Italian architecture firm MoDusArchitects recently completed TreeHugger, a new building from sculptural volume and sinuous shapes, which houses the Tourist Information Office of the city of Bressanone (Bolzano), winner of a competition launched in 2016.
Located on the edge of the historic center of the South Tyrolean city, next to the Bishop's Palace, the bush-hammered concrete building with a decisive character is the latest episode in a series of "premeditated murders" of architectures that followed one another from the 1800s to the 70s. TreeHugger takes up the spatial qualities and lightness of the previous structures, also dedicated to welcoming visitors, thanks to elements such as thin columns, deep loggias and measured objects.
With momentum, the project breaks away from the ground, offering itself to the city in the form of public space. This is how they are created new visual connections, not only with the main building of the Bishop's Palace, but also with the two Chinese and Japanese pavilions, of smaller dimensions, arranged at the corners of the stately gardens. The unusual and sinuous curves of the pavilions are reinterpreted in the building designed by MoDusArchitects which is transformed into the new gateway to the city of Bressanone.
The area is characterized by the presence of a monumental plane tree of considerable size that shapes the guidelines of the design. TreeHugger wraps itself around the tree to seal an indissoluble union between nature and architecture. The aesthetic and tactile qualities of the rough walls in exposed bush-hammered concrete are in juxtaposition with the bark of the plane tree and imitate each other.
Leveraging the trunk as the fulcrum, five arched spans free the building from the ground, and wrap around the tree framing its foliage. In order to obtain continuity with the external concrete shell, the full-height walls were cast with a single gesture and in successive sections thus forming a continuous ring 9 meters high, inside which the concrete slabs were inserted. .
The curvature of the walls, together with the attic, generates a synergistic composition in which form, structure and facades become a single entity. To allow maximum transparency and permeability, the ground floor, which houses the public spaces and information desks, is almost entirely glazed. While the entrance, clearly identified by the recessed windows and the large overhang, opens towards the new square. Finally, the sequence of convex walls gives the upper floor, which contains the administrative offices, an introverted and hermetic character.
With its inviting curves, mitigated by the strong tectonics of concrete, TreeHugger lights up a dialogue with the historical context and, as a new hub dedicated to sharing local culture, it attracts a diverse audience of visitors and passers-by.
Project name: TreeHugger (Tourist Information Office)
Architecture Office: MoDusArchitects (Sandy Attia, Matteo Scagnol)
Project team: Irene Braito, Filippo Pesavento
Location: Bressanone (Bolzano, Italy)
Conclusion year: September 2019
Build Area: 430 sqm
Client: Tourist Office of Bressanone
Photographer: © Oskar Da Riz