Uniting the sacred and profane
On the one hand a church dating from the first half of the seventeenth century, dedicated to the Madonna of Ghisallo (according to an ancient legend, the name derives from a man named Ghisallo who, in medieval times, was attacked by bandits at that location and made a vow to the Madonna that he would build a church if he survived), the other the Museum of Cycling with its exuberant modernity.
Inserted in a panoramic amphitheatre of outstanding beauty, the two buildings relate to the context on the basis of two different concepts. While the church is not much larger than an oratory, the museum is envisaged as a poetic work, a tribute to the natural landscape. Its form expanding out into the surroundings and the wave-shaped section of the roof should be interpreted as a fragment of alpine skyline reduced to an architectural scale.
In search of a new relationship between the built environment and the landscape, architect Davide Bergna chose the language of planimetric complexity, reconfiguring the spirit of the site through a three-dimensional project inspired by the location but without destroying its existing characteristics. The project combines building science and architectural vision, manipulating the volumes according to the vitality of the contour lines.
Curves and counter-curves, concave surfaces opposing convex surfaces serve to define the interior spaces while allowing overhead lighting to penetrate and illuminate the display space. Large windows frame the interior spaces, projecting the museum into the outside world. The church is organised as a seamless, organic whole with fluid pathways that wind their way through cognitive and sacred spaces, paved with Sky tiles from the Color Concrete series by Fiordo Industrie Ceramiche (a division of Panariagroup Industrie Ceramiche S.p.A.).
The design concept focuses on an articulated display system capable of integrating various typologies: an area devoted to memorabilia, photographs, clothing and bicycles once owned by famous champions that also offers an overview of the technological development of competitive cycling, while multimedia tools offer an engaging way of accessing information. An accessory section of the Museum is located 12 metres below the display floor, the special arrangement of columns creating an arcade area facing the valley where the lake enhances the natural beauty of the landscape. Inside, the spaces devoted to the library also have multiple functions and are used for theme exhibitions, conferences and other events devoted to the world of cycling. While the museum performs its cultural function during the day, at night the internal lighting transforms the architectural envelope into a kind of magic lantern that projects stories and personalities onto the rocky slopes of the mountainside.