The book describes the renovation and conversion of the former Montecatini factory in Bolzano, now transformed into the technological and scientific research hub NOI Techpark hosting public institutes, universities and private companies. The book is curated by Marco Mulazzani, while the illustrations by Alessandra Chemollo detail the renovation project.
The Montecatini factory complex, once the biggest producer of aluminium in the whole of Italy, opened in Bolzano in 1936. It had been designed by INA (National Aluminium Institute), the Montecatini technical office based in Milan. The complex comprised a low-rise office building facing the street, then dormitories for the factory workers, labs and services, a shop, a social club for the employees, an infirmary and a chapel. Behind these were the monumental electric power converters and the foundries. The factory began to be dismantled in the 1990s. However thanks to NOI Techpark the complex has now been given a new lease on life, based on research and technological innovation. The project by Claudio Lucchin & associate architects Angelo Rinaldo Daniela Varnier, Chapman Taylor architects and Mauro Dell’Orco, the winner of the 2008 international competition for the requalification of the ex Alumix area, tackled the tricky issue of repurposing the pre-existing buildings and structures and adding a new building – the “Black Monolith” – which was pivotal both functionally and symbolically in drawing the whole redevelopment project together.
The juxtaposition between new and old lies at the heart of the NOI Techpark. The old buildings that have outlived their purpose, but are still considered “valuable”, are transformed into “heritage” thanks to their new-found use. With the “Black Monolith” as the pivotal driving force required to convert a factory into a research hub, they contribute to the overall value of the architectural complex.