architect: Maurice Nio - NIO architecten

location: Prato, Italy

year: 2016

Growing waiting for the Grand Opening of the new Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, scheduled for next October 16th, 2016, after the completion of the futuristic expansion by Dutch architect Maurice Nio and the upgrading of the Italo Gamberini original building. The Pecci Centre will be the only public institution dedicated to contemporary art in Italy, and one of the few in Europe, to inaugurate a new building in 2010-2020 decade.
In this occasion Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci presents the exhibition "The End of the World", curated Director Fabio Cavallucci with the cooperation of a large group of international advisors composed by Antonia Alampi, Luca Barni, Myriam Ben Salah, Marco Brizzi, Lorenzo Bruni, Jota Castro, Wlodek Goldkorn, Katia Krupennikova, Morad Montazami, Giulia Poli, Luisa Santacesaria, Monika Szewczyk and Pier Luigi Tazzi.

"The title "The end of the world" is born from the idea that what we have known so far is obsolete - said Fabio Cavallucci, Centro Pecci Director - The exhibition is not the representation of an impending catastrophic future, but with awareness of the uncertainty prevailing in our world and reflection on the scenarios that surround us. The media, too conceptual, interpretation of reality that we knew are no longer able to understand the present time. Hence, from this structural change, comes a widespread sense of order." Through the works of over 50 artists and international artists and an exhibit that will extend over the entire exhibition area of over 3000 square meter museum, the exhibition is configured as a kind of distance exercise, which led him to see our present from afar.

“Sensing the waves”, Nuova ala progettata da Maurice Nio - photo by Ivan D’Alì
“Sensing the waves”, Nuova ala progettata da Maurice Nio - photo by Ivan D’Alì


In 1988 was born in Prato the first center dedicated to contemporary art in Italy. An idea by the entrepreneur Enrico Pecci, he has been donated by the city in memory of his son Luigi, the Centre was established with the support of several founding members, including the City of Prato, the Industrial Union, the Cassa di Risparmio di Prato and gross array of private citizens, Italian rare example of cooperation between public institutions and private patrons. Its mission was to promote awareness of the emerging art - national and international-through programs of temporary exhibitions, educational activities, documentation and information, entertainment and multimedia events. The Pecci Centre has a unique collection in Italy with more than 1,000 works by major international artists from Anish Kapoor to Jan Fabre, by Jannis Kounellis Sol LeWitt, as well as the great Italians of the last century, such as Mario Merz and Michelangelo Pistoletto. The collection was unfortunately sacrificed for a long time in storage for lack of exhibition space.
To ensure the correct appreciation of this heritage, the beginning of the twenty-first century the Pecci Centre has decided to double the exhibition space and, at the same time, to restructure the original building Gamberini, who by now had some critics and obsolete aspects. The expansion work, supported by the Municipality of Prato and Tuscany Region through the European Funds, began in 2006 and were focused on building a new wing with a strong architectural impact, linked to the original location, which in the meantime have been retrained and enhanced features and services. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Italy has supported the birth of the new building. The complex, at the conclusion of the work, will cover an area of nearly 10,000 square meters, and in addition to the exhibition space will host an archive and a specialized library, which has assets of more than 50,000 volumes, an open air theater with 1,000 seats, a 140-seat movie theater / auditorium, one performance space 400, a bookshop, a pub / bistro and a restaurant, as well as workshops and various meeting rooms. And so today, after almost thirty years of activity, the Pecci Centre doubles. In two ways: expanding its headquarters and the cultural program. Two profoundly related initiatives with each other because they were born from a common goal: to equip the Centre for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci of a new cultural energy, able to express themselves both through the exhibition content either through built spaces. Energy required to penetrate and to involve the area through a new architecture, built and designed to give new features to the existing structure, to double the surface, to establish new relations between the museum and the city, between art and the region .
Enlargement is signed by Maurice Nio Dutch, founder of the studio NIO architecten Rotterdam - one of the most original interpreters of the architectural culture of our time. Commissioned by the Pecci family in 2006, the project is driven by the desire to own the new cultural program of the museum. The collection of works in progress and -costantemente oriented in recent years to also favor the Italian artistic production and regional-stressed the urgent need for new environments, intended to permanently house the rich heritage of the collection.

Scala della nuova ala progettata da Maurice nio - photo by Ivan D’Alì
Scala della nuova ala progettata da Maurice nio - photo by Ivan D’Alì

The Nio project aims to promote the permeability between the center and its territory. The existing building is completely preserved and left intact in all its aspects. At it approaches, in the form of a ring, a new volume, taking the design of the original surrounding parkland, it is oriented towards the public realm. With the new entrance, the bookshop and the restaurant located within a transparent body on the ground floor, the Center addresses outside, urges curiosity, invites interaction, opens to the city, mediated by an experimental garden and a large square. The highest point of the exhibition complex is reached by an element similar to an antenna capable, on the one hand, to represent the will of capturing the new forms of creativity alive in the territory, the other to denounce the important presence of a place dedicated their promotion of immediatavisibilità both for those coming from both Perchi get to walk to town. Since primaformulazione project, Maurice Nio has chosen for the new building a title strongly evocative flavor: Sensing the Waves, suggesting the receptor suafunzione (and maybe even the transmitter) able to capture and disseminate this time vibration.
Below the antenna, a new map of functions and pathways binds the original Italo Gamberini building to Maurice Nio. The Dutch project is based on a systematic rethinking of the exhibition features that are manifested outside through larealizzazione an ambiguous object, unexpected, unusual offering itself to multiple interpretations. A thin and reasoned language that sembraguardare beyond consuetarealizzazione, internationally, the art centers such as large urban icons. Confirming the attention towards the international arena and consolidating its ties with the territory, the Centro Pecci assumes from today another important goal with which to face the coming decades.

"Compared to the rigid, mechanical character of the existing structure -in part inspired by Prato industries -, the new project," says Nio, "proposes a woven language of fluid shapes and dreamy. It embraces and surrounds the original building, touching it only when necessary. "

name of the project: Sensing the waves
location: Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, viale della Repubblica 277, Prato, Italia
architect and artistic director: Maurice Nio (NIO architecten) /
geolog: Debora Bresci (dal 2007 al 2011), Damiano Franzoni (2012 al 2016)
structural engeneering: Ingenieursbureau Zonneveld, Iacopo Ceramelli, Alberto Antonelli, Daniele Storai
cost: Euro 14.400.000
schedule: design 2006
start: 2007
completion: 2016
total expansion by NIO architecten: 7.815 sqm 
total surface of Italo Gamberini building: 4.310 sqm 
total surface: 12.125 sqm