In the Gran Sasso National Park, the new multifunctional center restores the balance between man and nature and becomes the focal point of the community of Spelonga, destroyed during the earthquake of 2016

A public building has just been opened as part of the renewal of Spelonga, a municipality of Arquata del Tronto (AP), redesigning the panorama of one of the zones most badly hit by the earthquake of August 2016 in central Italy.

The design is by Gianluca Fontana, partner of the studio LGSMA, and is part of a wider-ranging project that calls for the creation of two other constructions for public use in the near future.

The building and the outdoor space around it organizes its uses and forms starting from the landscape of the mountains in the Marches, establishing a strong bond with the territory.

The work, conducted in dialogue with the local community and its needs, has quickly become a new gathering point for residents, providing a piazza that restores the link with the natural environment.

The structure replicates the profiles of the peaks surrounding the town, located inside the National Park of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga. Large triangular glass facades form the entrances, bringing in the vivid light of the mountain panorama, while permitting visual continuity between inside and outside, artificial and natural.

“The intense light of the Monti della Laga sets clear contours,” says Gianluca Fontana, “in the profiles of the mountains and in those of the buildings, formulating space and underscoring volumes. I wanted to pay homage to that light, making it the central focus of the project.”

The materials selected also embody this orientation. In particular, the external claddings have been developed by Gianluca Fontana in collaboration with the company Terreal Italia, as a custom solution; terracotta tiles that reference local materials, dominated by the brown earth tones of Monti della Laga, granting the surfaces of the structure a vibrant effect of shifting light and shadow.

The internal space, of 160 square meters, makes abundant use of wood, with a wall completely covered in this material that continues on the ceiling of the space.

The archetypal form of the triangle and the pyramid of the structure comes from the desire to return to the primordial shapes of construction. Fontana explains: “The triangle suggests a return to degree zero of architecture, that of the first rural settlements, which in a context of destruction caused by the earthquake cannot help to be seen as a statement of intent.”

As in a piazza, different activities can take place simultaneously, without interfering with each other. The interior provides a screening room, a library and a place of worship, as well as exhibits of historical relics from the 1500s, with important references to local history.

Outdoors, the stepped structure of the roof makes it possible to create a seating area for open-air performances; the steps lead to a panoramic terrace with binoculars for gazing at the impressive peaks of Monte Vettore and the Monti Sibillini National Park.

Photo: Antonio Saladini