Noi TechPark is an intervention of urban requalification of the industrial district of Bolzano. The Technological Park is located in the ex-Montecatini factories, becoming a great example of industrial archeology reuse.
This was a negleted area of the city, which felt into disuse for 30 years: this reconversion gives back to the citizens a public space chatacterized by innovation, research and new entrepreneurship .
The ex-Montecatini areas, in the industrial district of Bolzano, are tangible pieces of history (of the town and its society) which appear to be frozen in time.
During the fascist period Mussolini imposed the construction of big factories in town in order to italianize South Tirol.
Between 1934 and 1939, Montecatini had been the first company to settle, followed by Lancia, Falck the steel company, and the Magnesium Factory.
During the second post-war period, Montecatini became the biggest Italian aluminium factory. This had been possible also thanks to the hydroelectric power plants in the province, being able to supply all the required energy for the two main lines of transformation of the Bauxite into Aluminium.
The beginning of the 80's is characterized by a productive decline which led the production to a halt and the closure of the factory by the early 90's.This had been followed by the acquisition of the estates by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano.
In 2004 the two main factories (of transformation of the electric energy) and the facilities buildings facing the street will be recognized as monuments of historical heritage. So then began the debate of their possible use.
Most people were in favour of its use as a museum, as a response of the great success of "Manifesta 7", the European art biennial, which had taken place in the factory in 2008.
Meanwhile, the Province President at the time, Luis Durnwalder, against all odds proposed a research and innovation programme, which would combine in a unique location the University of Bolzano and other research activities scattered within the territory.
The high architectural quality of the existing buildings asked for a respectful comparison between them and the new design. This led the architect to re-integrate the signs of the dismantled factory into a futuristic conception.
The design within the new area includes the refurbishment of the existing buildings and a set of new buildings, called “Black Monolith”. The new buildings are conceived as a unique element running along the whole of the area as a vessel of the future recalling the idea of Knowledge. The traditional idea of "factory" and productive cycle becomes intangible and conceptual turning it into the ark of knowledge, innovation and production in terms of intellectual activity.
The new building appears as a Black Monolith recalling Kubrick’s masterpiece. This is a horizontal monolith plunged into the ground and surrounded by the existing buildings: the spark of intelligence made evolution possible. Where the black Kubrick Monolith is a vertical and dominant figure, here it is almost horizontal, slightly tilted expressing the insufficiency of our knowledge.
It recalls a torn down "Table of Law", a figurative image of how Humanity through the study of new theories unhinges and cracks the Laws of Nature.
The building becomes an ideological bridge, a transitional element from the primitive and rudimental man to the evolved one thanks to Science. The former is represented by the old factory, while the new building will show itself as the catalyst of evolution and innovation.
The Monolith represents something perfect which is still unknown, but we aim to unveil and discover. The future is ready to be shown to the world.
The building can also be interpreted through the “Ark of the Covenant” between Humanity and Technology, tradition and innovation, pragmatism (factory) and empiricism (laboratory), the architectural concept and the concrete technological production.
Such concepts take shape into a three-dimensional pure and linear building, in a black long parallelepipedon split in perfectly juxtaposed blocks.
Every block opens up into its centre with an inner court, in order to get natural light they will be completely glazed. The exterior is dark and its appearance is as sealed as possible, with some hairline crack openings. The cladding is a black layer of dense aluminum foam. The external view of the Black Monolith appears as a unique entity.
The research institutes are located in the aft of “the Ark” made by a one-way glass curtain wall. The bow is a cantilevered element supported by mirror covered pillars that emphasize the floating effect of the Monolith.
In its interior, the building is shaped by two big empty spaces: a winter garden courtyard as a representation of Nature’s attempt to take back the anthropized areas, and a big atrium that highlights the old water tower. As in former times, the latter is still used as a tank for water which nowadays allows the new building to be heated or cooled down.
The original entrance to the "ex Alumix" complex has been preserved. The former facilities building now hosts the new restaurant and bar.
Once you cross the thereshold you encounter a large outdoor area: a square. gardens, sport facilities and rest areas, dominated by the old factories and the new black building.
Under the monolith a large underground square has been excavated whose access stairway follows the inclination of the overlying element and becomes a suggestive open-air theater.
The areas reserved for parking and technical spaces has been enclosed to the basement floors.
The business incubator for start-ups is located in the old factory "Bolzano 1". On the ground and first floor there are offices and labs whose internal layout follows the existing structural frame. In the upper three floors, space perception become three-dimensional: wood and glass office boxes are supported by the existing bearing structure. The second factory “Bolzano 2” hosts many research labs directed by NOI TECHPARK institutions.