“This is a lovely story, the kind that should be remembered,” says the architect Michele De Lucchi. “The idea of a cultural center, about 2000 square meters for the arts, entertainment and education, filled me with enthusiasm. Every city has one, a place of expression. In Tolentino it was missing. How could I fail to take part, when Franco Moschini asked me?

Multidisciplinary work is the future. I have preserved the salient characteristics of the historic Piceno cinema-theater, an eclectic building constructed in 1926 up against the walls of the city, wedged between two streets, which for 90 years was a reference point in the life of the city. But I have updated its concept and revised the functioning of the internal spaces.

Flexibility and adaptability, the new mantra. Starting today, the Politeama has a hall for dance, three workshops for music and theater rehearsals, an audiovisual room, a main hall and a foyer with a cafe. The place is extraordinary: it embodies a great vision, that of an enlightened patron of the arts. And best wishes to imagine a better future.”

Still to be written. Because the new Politeama, reopened on 18 May, represents first of all a symbol of hope and rebirth for a city of 20,000 inhabitants that is going through a moment of extreme distress, connected with the challenges of reconstruction and a return to normal life after an earthquake.

“We dedicate this project,” Franco Moschini, president of the foundation of the same name that has financed the entire operation, “to the 5000 people of Tolentino who are still homeless. I am very pleased to give this building back to a community where I have had many positive experiences, a place to which I feel close by choice. The project probably would not have happened with the help of our friend Michele De Lucchi, who while we were talking, playing with his pencil, had already imagined what this place could become. It is a positive stimulus for Tolentino and for the will to move forward and do things. This project shows people it is possible to react, and to do so with an eye on beauty as well.”

The foyer is certainly beautiful, as the heart of the new multifunctional complex, containing a cafe open to the public, also when there are no events. The atmosphere is Viennese, with good desserts, oak facings, stone floors made with the Venetian terrazzo technique, a large belvedere window looking towards the valley.

The staircase is original, with a metal handrail, a strong factor of memory that adds character to the space, next to the new glass elevator. Both lead to the three halls, one per floor. “To make the volume breathe we have eliminated two floor slabs, letting natural light enter from the glazing on the roof,” De Lucchi says.

“The hall on ground level, directly accessed from the foyer, has been made by leveling the floor of the old seating area. With its ample size of 200 m2, special parquet and mobile acoustic dividers, it can be split into two spaces, guaranteeing versatility of use (from dance lessons to public gatherings and lectures).

The theater, with its stage and modern cinema equipment,” he continues, “has been placed on the second floor, inserting a new floor slab at the height of the old balcony. With 170 seats and a stage that is not raised, featuring Harlequin technical wood floors, it can host screenings, theater and dance events, concerts. The stepped arrangement offers perfect visibility from all points, while the suspended shells make it possible to adjust the room for different acoustic needs.”

The audiovisual room is smaller, with large windows, at the position of the former offices on the first floor: 35 seats, ideal for business meetings, seminars, project presentations. The corridor is like a historical gallery, with a story in words and images of the Politeama and its transformations.

The three rehearsal rooms for music, voice, theater and workshops are organized in the semi-basement; each has large glass walls, insulated for sound and equipped with an independent entrance. At this level, the medieval walls on the southern side of the Politeama have been left exposed, and their irregular golden stones set the rhythm of the spaces.

History enters a true dialogue with technology and the contemporary world. The furnishings are also important in this skillfully gauged landscape. They too are attractive and appropriate, made by Gebrüder Thonet Vienna (GTV) as the general contractor, the historic and iconic Viennese brand owned by Moschini Spa since 2003. Some of the furnishings are custom-made (under the new brand Wiener GTV Design).

Like the Hot stackable seats in the conference-audiovisual room (with shells and armrests in curved wood and metal legs). Or the new Politeama seats in the theater, again designed by De Lucchi, whose blue covers stand out amidst the warm tones of wood panels and the anthracite gray of the walls. They reflect the mastery of GTV in the working of curved wood, with (beech) armrests that form a deep U at the sides of the upholstered seat.

Other furnishings are standard pieces, like the Radetzky seats and the Rehbeintisch tables that create a 19th-century atmosphere of Viennese gathering places in the cafe. The Targa sofa designed by GamFratesi has been adapted in a bench version.

“These are all products that interpret the style and paradigms of reference,” says Riccardo Pigati, CEO of the licensee of Gebrüder Thonet Vienna (GTV), “of a brand with a very long tradition in the creation of theaters, cafes and cultural spaces. A true contract supplier, before that term became popular. But they have all been updated to comply with regulations, while providing great comfort, looks, material-chromatic mixtures and finishes.

We remain industrial artisans, and this is the added value. Specifically, the customization has extended to the production of sound-absorbing walls in the various halls. Contract solutions that go beyond furniture.” Another great history that looks to the future. As the sun continues to shine on the Politeama

Photos Santi Caleca – Article Antonella Boisi