Nestled in the historic core of Udine, a vibrant city in Northern Italy, La Vetrina dell’Ingegno—The Showcase of Ingenuity—stands as more than a mere renovation; it’s a full-fledged renaissance of form and function. Crafted by Alessandro Verona Studio, this thirteenth-century Tower of Santa Maria has been meticulously transformed. The redesign masterfully weaves together cutting-edge architectural innovation, a deep respect for historical legacy, and the subtleties of contemporary aesthetics.
La Vetrina dell’Ingegno Technical Information
- Architects1-5: Alessandro Verona Studio
- Location: Udine, Italy
- Client: Confindustria Udine
- Topics: Towers, Museums
- Project Year: 2020 – 2022
- Photographs: © Massimo Crivellari
The project establishes a deliberate distance from the existing context, free from nostalgic sentiments. Our objective was to spark a meaningful conversation between contemporary design and history.
– Alessandro Verona
La Vetrina dell’Ingegno Photographs
The Multifaceted Transformation of Udine’s Tower of Santa Maria
Sited within the fourth ring of walls of Udine’s historic center, the Tower of Santa Maria has served varied roles across the ages. From its original function as a defensive structure, to later uses such as a private residence, shop, art studio, and even a “Museum of the City,” this tower has witnessed myriad transformations. Under the purview of Confindustria Udine, who owns the building, Alessandro Verona Studio took on the formidable task of its most recent metamorphosis.
The design objective was clear: the transformation of the Tower of Santa Maria into a museum that serves as a monument to the region’s rich industrial history. Kicking off in October 2020, the project was successfully inaugurated in December 2022. The design was ambitious, involving not just restoration, but also a revamping of the tower’s functionality and interaction with the urban fabric.
The Elements of Transformation
Taking a holistic approach to accessibility, the project has made every level of the five-story tower reachable. An efficient elevator replaced the preexisting external staircase, thereby ensuring seamless mobility. The ground floor extension, which integrates a hall, presentation area, and exhibition space, incorporates universal design principles.
Alessandro Verona Studio adopted a carefully considered material palette to create a dialogue between the old and new elements. Aurisina stone flooring and a Venetian spatolato ceiling transform the external courtyard into an interior, while a metal and frosted glass joint reconciles the geometric disparities between the old and new structures.
One of the most striking aspects of this renovation is the new elevator structure, which serves as a contrasting element against the tower. Shaped like an abstract blade, this contemporary insertion deliberately stands apart from the historic stone mass. It’s a critical distance that Verona describes as “free from nostalgic sentiments,” intended to spark a meaningful conversation between the past and the present.
The project brings to life a permanent exhibition space detailing the history of Udine’s industrial associations and a meeting area on the ground floor. Temporary exhibitions across the tower’s floors highlight the various product sectors of Confindustria Udine, offering a revolving lens into the region’s industrial accomplishments.
La Vetrina dell’Ingegno Plans
La Vetrina dell’Ingegno Image Gallery
About AV/S Alessandro Verona Studio
AV/S Alessandro Verona Studio is an architectural firm with a focus on urban redevelopment, public buildings, and various other spaces for both business and private sectors. Led by Alessandro Verona, an IUAV in Venice alumnus mentored by noted architects Vittorio Gregotti and Filippo Messina, the firm employs a holistic approach to architecture that blends program, form, and space. This results in innovative designs that blur the lines between the interior and exterior environments. The firm also places a strong emphasis on urban design and the reimagining of public spaces like squares.
Notes & Additional Credits
- Design Team: Alessandro Verona, Emanuele Crainich, Ilenia Iuri, Ana Paola Roca Vera
- Structural engineering: Andrea Craighero
- Mechanical engineering: ETA Progetti
- Contractor: Cella Costruzioni
- Subcontractors: Castellani Impianti, Gover Impianti Elettrici