NEW TOWN HALL
(with O. Zoeggeler and V. Negri)
Canazei, Trento, 1990-1997
This project, Pettena’s first public building, arose out of his interest, which was to be deepened in the coming years, in the restoration and conservation of the historic buildings. An interest that he gradually integrated into a broader field of research, consisting in the critical analysis of the urban and natural context. In this case the original building from the 1930s designed by Ettore Sottsass Senior, whose demolition was only avoided (partly thanks to Pettena) after a long and bitter controversy, has been flanked by a new construction (indispensable to meet the administrative needs of a municipality that has experienced continuous growth as a consequence of the influx of tourists in summer and winter), but one that is totally open to dialogue with the existing building. The lateral façade of the original building was taken as a source of inspiration for one of the lateral façades of a new volume that, at least on that side, has a very similar appearance to the earlier one: thus the two façades, the old and the new, separated but united by a glazed surface, form a single façade. Helping to define a square that had never been characterized as such, the main façade fills the gap that had been created in the urban fabric by this plot of land which, although centrally located, had been left vacant. The two volumes face one another, the modern building respecting the other without losing the right to speak the language of its own time.
Through the glazed connection, the new volume maintains a certain distance from the existing volume and is itself split into two parts, creating in practice a pedestrian intersection between the new and the old building and between the two sections of the new building: a pedestrian intersection that is laid out on two distinct levels. And since it is a public building, the walls linking the two constructions, as well as the outward-facing walls of the two parts of the new building, are glazed, so as to make this new piece of urban fabric climatically autonomous in a place where for a good half of the year the climate is particularly rigid: the space identified in this way becomes a public square, a common space utilized and appreciated as such. Thus, the town hall is considered a place of representation, of democratic government, that offers the public a function of its own, that takes on the functions of an urban fabric that would not otherwise exist, the functions of a square, of a meeting place.