Between Baroque and Neorganic
Camillo Zucchelli, Pietro Matteotti
Any project involving a church necessarily touches on relationships of a theological, liturgical and aesthetic nature. Spatial and decorative designs take on a deep symbolic meaning, a significance suspended between the sanctity of the liturgical act, the beauty of the work of art and the technical skill of architecture. The project for the church of San Giuseppe refers to the natural world as an element of Creation in its various manifestations, ranging from creatures of the land to those of the air and the sea, as in the case of the Nautilus, a mollusc whose shape inspired the spatial configuration of the church located in the Alcide de Gasperi neighbourhood of Riva del Garda, a town in the province of Trento. The project concerns the internal floor coverings of a church that began construction in the 1960s to a design by architect Camillo Zucchelli and, after a number of vicissitudes, was completed in 2006, exactly forty years after it was consecrated. An ambitious and original project, the form of the church of San Giuseppe originates from the complex and extraordinary biological structure of the shell of Nautilus, a marine mollusc that is capable of withstanding bathymetric pressures at depths of more than five hundred metres.
Designed by engineer Pietro Matteotti, the floor originates from a kind of plane projection of the organic shapes of the architectural structure. The operation respects the construction morphology chosen by the architect Zucchelli. Installed by the company Dossi Giovanni, the floor covering consists of materials from the Cotto del Cardinale collection, a series inspired by the terracotta pavers used in some of Rome’s most splendid sixteenth century noble buildings.
Interweaving the sacred and profane of the Baroque with the organic forms of the Nautilus, the floor covering creates an atmosphere with a wealth of colours dominated by dark purple in the collection produced by Tagina Ceramiche d’Arte, a company that uses technologies capable of manufacturing mass-produced ceramic products with handmade characteristics, giving them considerable added value. As architectural projects, places of worship sit uneasily with the aesthetics of a mass-produced industrial product conceived as an infinite multiplication of identical elements. Even a contemporary church must maintain its links with the history of sacred architecture and therefore with the models of the past when every constituent element of the structure was made by hand, celebrating the value of human activity as a symbol for building the house of God. Tagina’s product has small imperfections and ever-changing details that make it ideal for use in unique spaces like churches.
Cotto del Cardinale