The MUST-SEE Contemporary Architecture in Bologna and Beyond

Modern Architecture Emilia Romagna

We are a land of middle age towers, covered portici, romantic castles.

But the future is unwritten and many famous contemporary architects already took their pen to write it.

Explore the remarkable modern architectures in Bologna and Emilia Romagna.

Kenzo Tange's Fiera District - Bologna

Architecture Bologna Kenzo Tange Fiera

Bologna is the city of towers, right?
Yeah but not just those towers.

Back in the 1970s' Japanese architect Kenzo Tange decided to add something different to Bologna's skyline inside the Fiera District.

You can find there the tallest prefabricated buildings in all of Italy, covering a whopping 20,000 square meters.

Tange's meticulous attention to solar shading and visual harmony sets these structures apart.

Spoiler alert: if you visit them on a rainy night you think to be a Blade Runner.

Le Corbusier's Esprit Nouveau Pavilion - Bologna

Esprit Nouveau Le Corbusier Bologna

Just a few steps from Tange's tower, another masterpiece of modern architecture.

Step back in time to 1925 Paris, where Le Corbusier's vision came to life to create the Pavilion de l'Esprit Nouveau for the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Back in 1977, two local architects made a bold decision to recreate a faithful replica down to the smallest detail.

And guess what?

Today, it stands as the only existing pavilion recognized by the Fondation Le Corbusier.

What's fascinating about the Bolognese Pavilion is that it's a spitting image of its Parisian counterpart, inside and out, right down to the incorporation of a tree into its structure.

Now, about that tree - one of the quirkiest details of the structure. Did you know that it wasn't originally part of Le Corbusier's plan? He had to add it later because it happened to be in the garden area of the Grand Palais where the Pavilion was constructed.

Alvar Aalto's Church of Santa Maria Assunta - Riola di Vergato, Bologna

Alvar aalto riola bologna church outside

The story of Alvar Aalto's church in Riola, near Bologna, is the one for movies (and it actually ended up there).

Long story short, it's the only existing work of the Finnish architect in Italy.

Following the Church's call for new communication approaches in the 1950s, the asymmetrical layout and single nave of the Riola church aimed to foster active participation.

Aalto not only crafted the structures but also the interior furnishings, with the vault allowing ample light, especially onto the altar.

You'd need to rent a car to visit Aalto's church, but I promise you won't be disappointed.

Aldo Rossi's San Cataldo Cemetery - Modena

Modena Cemetery

When you see the San Cataldo Cemetery in Modena, designed by Aldo Rossi, you'll notice it looks like a city.

It has straight, covered pathways along the edges and in the center, running on the ground, upper floors, and underground.

On the outside, you'll notice the cemetery is enclosed by a wall with windows. In the middle of the area, you'll find a big reg cube. It holds the memorial for those who died in wars and it was portrayed with stunning images by photographer Luigi Ghirri.

The cemetery you can admire today is only a small part of the original project designed by Rossi. The future will tell if it will ever be completed.

Among the people buried in this place, you can find Enzo Ferrari.

Santiago Calatrava's Mediopadana Train Station - Reggio Emilia

Architecture Reggio Emilia Calatrava Station

Ever thought about train stations as more than just places to pass through?

Well, they're way cooler than you might think.

Take the Mediopadana AV station in Reggio Emilia. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it's like a futuristic masterpiece, adding serious value to the city.

Now, let's talk numbers.
This station is massive. Picture a bunch of steel portals forming this undulating structure that stretches nearly 500 meters long. It's like the weight of one and a half Eiffel Towers!

The station's got an eco-friendly vibe too. Lots of trees cover the outside, blending it beautifully with the surroundings.

So, next time you're planning a trip, why not make a pit stop in Reggio Emilia?

Renzo Piano's Paganini Auditorium - Parma

Architecture Parma Renzo Piano Auditorium

If you're wondering what to visit in Parma, make sure to put the Paganini Auditorium on your list.

It's set in the old Eridania sugar refinery, which dates back to 1899. They stopped making sugar there back in 1968, but instead of letting it fade into obscurity, Renzo Piano came along with a brilliant plan.

He decided to jazz up the joint by tearing down two of the refinery's walls and turning it into a kind of giant telescope. Huge windows frame the foyer and music rooms, with the park outside becoming this natural backdrop for all the action.
It's like being part of a grand performance every time you step inside.

Now, what's inside is just as impressive.

You've got a massive room that can fit 780 people, along with all the extras like dressing rooms, a bar (because who doesn't love a good pre-show drink?), office and cloakrooms.

So, whether you're a music lover, an architecture buff, or just someone looking for a cool spot to check out in Parma, the Paganini Auditorium has got you covered.

[photo credits: Trevor Patt, Silvia Perucchetti, Maick Coolen]

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