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Project team:

1. Paolo Galantini (Team Leader)

2. Marco Biondi

Location: Monselice, Padua

The intervention was developed starting from the deep knowledge of the building, its history, its construction events, the materials, techniques and technologies used, in order to insert a new architecture in a consolidated context, albeit with limits.

The project aims to take care of the building, improving its expressive capacity of meanings, choosing the path of listening and dialogue with the context in which one intervenes without denying it.

The intervention aims to establish a relationship of enhancement of the form and of the existing spaces, which does not enter into contrast with the existing building but strengthens the communicative expression of the building to create a clear and light system whose main premise is the optimization of the existing.

From a constructive point of view, the architectural intervention, together with the design of the liturgical fires, includes two wooden structures, one positioned in the presbytery and one in correspondence with the central blind dome. The structures incorporate the structural order of the apse and the dome.

In the presbytery area, a wooden structure of supporting ribs and strips will be created that redefine the shape of the apse, lowering it and enclosing it, creating a more intimate space. In this way, thanks to the evocative power of the wooden material, it is possible to give meaning and figurative completeness to an apse that is incomplete, in which the liturgical fires are lost and overlapped.

The insertion of the wooden structure has allowed the creation of a gallery-path in which to exhibit the works of art present, whose small size, compared to the large existing space, causes its current scarce valorization. This element evokes the shape of the apse ambulatory (from the Latin ambulare, "to walk, typical of pilgrimage basilicas, which allowed pilgrims to walk around the altar.

A second wooden structure, made with the same technology, will be inserted in the central dome. These dense wood textures, which draw a reduced apse and a new dome, create a suggestive succession of subtle lights and shadows, respectful of the dialogue with the existing volumes but contrasting with the massive and rough materiality of the concrete structures, enriching the spaces below.

The construction system thus conceived also responds to the prerogatives of sustainability and reversibility, which find a fundamental element in dry installation.

The new structure, in the presbyteral area, with its sound-absorbing and sound-diffusing qualities allows to improve its acoustic characteristics. Through the appropriate sizing of the wooden slats with the correct profile it is possible to break the wave fronts incident on the walls and ceiling, making the reflections more pleasant to the hearing and more controlled, approaching what happens in the audiences of large theaters historians.

The liturgical hall has been redesigned by directing interest to the various poles to which the attention of the assembly must converge: the altar, the ambo, the seat for the presidency and the choir.

The presbytery was rethought starting from the fundamental role of the altar with respect to the Eucharistic liturgy, the heart of the celebrating community, through the wooden apse, itself conceivable as a new eminence.

Starting from the dedication of the cathedral to the figure of Saint Joseph, referring to the apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos of the Holy Father John Paul II on the figure and mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church, the project focused on his role as Father, understood with two meanings: Father of the holy family and patron of the Church. The holy family, expression of the first domestic Church, represents the cradle of life and the sanctuary of love, the wooden apse expresses both verticality and therefore eschatological tension as well as recollection and custody. The liturgy recalls that God placed St. Joseph at the head of his family as a faithful and prudent servant, so that he would guard his only-begotten Son as a father Missale Romanum, Praefatio in Sollemnitate S. Ioseph Sponsi BVM.

The wooden structure that houses the altar stands out in the embrace towards the cult.

The altar underlined by the square base and its essential forms, is located in a central position, in correspondence with the longitudinal axis of the cathedral, ensuring its focal function of the liturgical space. Made of local Vicenza stone, it sees the insertion of wood in the cross, the eternal symbol of Christianity and the human nature of Christ.

The ambo, in which we find the same signs and materials as the altar, comes out of the presbytery and is placed near the assembly, but in a higher position than the latter.

The ambo is therefore located at an intermediate level between the hall and the altar, ensuring the liturgical hierarchy of the word.

The seat of the president, made of oak wood, is located laterally to the altar, in the presbytery, to facilitate dialogue with the faithful and the guidance of prayer. Wooden seats were also designed for the concelebrants, the deacon, the ministers and the altar servers.

Starting from the Greek cross shape of the planimetric layout, guided by the presence of the two side altars in correspondence with the transverse arm of the cross, the tabernacle and the choir are relocated inside the assembly, in order to favor their complete usability and visibility. .

The existing altar on which the tabernacle is positioned is demolished, and the latter is relocated on the altar on the east side.

The choir seat is placed on the opposite side with the insertion of two wooden platforms and after the demolition of the existing altar on the west side, where the existing organ will be inserted. The place for the celebration of the sacrament of penance was identified in the two rooms existing on the sides of the assembly, near the baptismal area, underlining the relationship between the sacrament of entry and Penance: as is known, in fact, the subsequent remission of sins at Baptism he renews the initial grace of this sacrament.

Thus, by identifying a space that precedes the tabernacle and the altar, we wanted to recall the path of the penitent who, like the Publican at the Temple, asks for forgiveness and is then invited by the Merciful Father to sit at the table of the feast for his found son. .

The baptismal font was also redesigned by placing it at the entrance of the cathedral hall along the longitudinal axis, also allowing the comfortable carrying out of the rite of baptism which is articulated with the various paths. The possibility of facing the benches towards this liturgical fire translates into a different articulation of the space that favors a complete participation in the baptismal liturgy.

The intervention also suggests replacing the existing benches with new ones, in walnut wood, in line with the typology of the new elements.

Various routes have been designed for internal circulation as well as for the processions and other movements that the different celebrations require. The new spatial and architectural arrangement is reflected in the symbolic axiality that refers both to the processional entrance into the Cathedral, and to the ritual grafting into the body of the assembly marked by the sacraments of Christian initiation: at the door, the baptismal font, in in relation to this the seats for the celebration of the sacrament of penance, subsequently the table of the Eucharist, the ambo and the seat, the place of the presidency and the sacrament of confirmation, surrounded by the new wooden apse.

The furnishings have been defined by preferring minimalistic formal and artistic solutions with a marked expressiveness, in which the link between form, function and symbolism is very strong.

Each object has been conceived simplified in an essential form, the result of which is not an element in which the absence of decorations dominates but a strongly conceptual and expressive body in its sobriety, capable of creating and defining the space around itself.

The guideline of the entire intervention is the desire to create a timeless liturgical adaptation with a high capacity for spiritual involvement, which is able to give a profound meaning to the liturgical celebration.

The purity of the volumes highlights, as Guardini wrote in 1931, that the deliberate absence of an overload of elements is not empty, it is silence. And in silence it is God.

The shapes of the liturgical objects, characterized by simple and contemporary lines, are played on the shapes of the square and the rectangle and are conceived as large blocks of stone, made with poor materials, ennobled by simplicity and their true essence. in which substance and not decorations dominate.

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