Sleek, sinuous, modern: in this article we will be taking a look at some of the most beautiful modern architecture in Modena.
Modena is known for its rare jewels of ancient architecture, such as the cathedral and its bell tower the Torre Ghirlandina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and other buildings which make up the city's history, such as the Ducal Palace, which now houses a portion of the Italian Military Academy.
However, even lovers of modern and contemporary architecture will not be disappointed with a visit to Modena.
Here is an itinerary which will provide some real and unexpected thrills for “archilovers”: Modena’s twentieth-century architecture, some of which was designed and built by internationally famous architects, includes buildings and installations which are today an integral part of the city fabric, and whose presence intertwines with the more historic ones.
Would you like to know which?
The first is undoubtedly the Mercato Storico Albinelli, a covered market which is probably the city's first example of modern architecture, dating back to the early 1900s. The heart of local gastronomy since its inception, it was a cutting-edge design at the time: for example, the particular focus on hygiene, with splendid pink marble counters for the fishmongers, running water at every stall and flooring designed to be easy to clean.
Today it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful works of modern art in Modena and one of the best preserved Italian markets. It is a liberty-style jewel which drew its inspiration from the first French covered markets. It features typical black and gold signs on the masonry stalls, a splendid wrought-iron gate, and elegant spirals, once again made of iron, connecting the load-bearing columns.
At the centre is the beautiful “fanciullina con canestro di frutta” (girl with basket of fruit) fountain by Graziosi.
Inaugurated in May 2008, the Chiesa di Gesù Redentore (Church of Jesus the Redeemer) was designed by Milanese architect Mauro Galantino, winner of the national competition held by the Episcopal Conference of Italy for qualification of religious architecture.
It is the largest church in the diocese of Modena and undoubtedly one of the city's more "unusual" structures, an example of the minimalist expression of Italian contemporary architecture.
The design, created between 2001 and 2005, aims to convey a sense of serenity, beauty and mysticism, and features linear stone surfaces and transparent façades. The style is simple, with skilful use of light; the design and structure are minimalist, and incorporate high-quality materials.
The Church of Jesus the Redeemer, as well as being an exceptional example of contemporary architecture, is also undoubtedly a building capable of exciting and moving visitors.
The San Cataldo Cemetery – Cimitero di San Cataldo Aldo Rossi – is the new part of Modena's cemetery, built on the basis of the design by architect Aldo Rossi in 1971 but to date not completed.
It is the masterly expression of the poetics of Aldo Rossi, who based his idea on the meaning that he himself attributed to death and memory.
It is laid out as an analogic route of buildings, which form a sort of “city of the dead” counterposed to that of the living, at the centre of which stands the great cube (the ossuary), a square construction with numerous small geometric windows through which light can shine.
The modern portion which perfectly embraces the original Ferrari building, site of Modena's Enzo Ferrari Museum, is a futuristic structure designed by English architect Jan Kaplicky's Future Systems practice in 2012.
It is composed of an inclined glass façade and a metal roof reminiscent of the silhouette of an imposing yellow “bonnet”, evoking the tradition of legendary racing team and supercar manufacturer Ferrari.
A structure which envelops and embraces the house where Enzo Ferrari was born, where visitors can experience the story of the founder – first as a driver and creator of the Scuderia in the 1930s, and then as a manufacturer since 1947 – along with some of his most significant cars.
The story is also told through a spectacular film which envelops the audience and allows them to place Enzo Ferrari in the different eras, amongst drivers, car models and well-known personalities.
Along Via Vignolese, on the “Vignolese-Tangenziale” roundabout, you can't help but notice the Grande Grappolo d’Uva – a huge bunch of grapes over 12 metres tall – with over 240 blown glass grapes!
This enormous work was created by Modenese maestro Erio Carnevali as an homage to Lambrusco wine, and donated by the Consortium to the Municipality of Modena.
Imposing in terms of size, the bunch of grapes is also extraordinarily beautiful, one of the largest art works made from Murano glass in the world.
The Oca Gigante Kimera (Kimera Giant Goose) sculpture, located between Via Formigina and Strada per Cognento, was created by Carlo Cremaschi and is a giant reproduction of a goose toy with wheels.
Around six metres tall and made entirely from steel (16 tonnes!), Kimera represents "a large rusty toy abandoned by a giant child" and aims to pay homage to the twentieth century, a century of “cruelty and sweetness, intelligence and brutality, powerful delusions, great hope and ruinous falls”.
At the same time both light and heavy, this work was constructed using industrial technology and rests directly on the ground: an unusual installation with enormous symbolism.