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Art Museum - Fondazione Luigi Rovati

The Fondazione Luigi Rovati, scientific-cultural institution founded in 2016 and named after
Luigi Rovati, in that same year, sponsored the regeneration and renovation of the historical Palazzo del Principe di Piombino to house an important collection of Etruscan vases and other artefacts. 

When the work was completed in 2022, a process to approach and gradually open up to the public began, in line with the Foundation's cultural infrastructure model that goes beyond the traditional concept of a museum displaying art exhibitions, focusing more on establishing a place of thought, experimentation and sharing. The Fondazione Luigi Rovati develops its own activity in line with skills acquired both in artistic-cultural and scientific environments, in a continuum between art and science blueprinted by Professor Luigi Rovati, and from whom the Foundation takes its name. The purpose of all the activities is to create value impact and public interest.

The Palace in Corso Venezia 52 is a single construction over seven floors, two of which are underground, covering an overall surface of 3,000m2. The architectural plans for expansion and regeneration awarded by the client to MCA – Mario Cucinella Architects, involves three macro-projects. The first one involves upgrading the basement level and the creation of an underground museum to house the Etruscan collection. This is the actual cornerstone of the project work, an outstanding architectural element devised in total harmony with the palace's project. Covered entirely in macigno stone laid horizontally on stratified levels, the new space features sinusoidal shapes. The second project is a careful conservation and restoration operation of the rooms on the first floor, a museum area designed to exhibit contemporary works of art conversing with archaeological artefacts.

The other floors in the building house the departments linked to the museum's activities: offices, study room, conference room, areas for temporary exhibitions and areas to store collections. The ground floor houses a large entrance hall acting as a sorting space, a permanently accessible hall housing the ticket office, museum shop, coffee shop-bistro, entrance to the restaurant located on the top floor and the garden with exhibition pavilion.
The third part of the project is the garden, a space hidden behind perimeter walls, closed in on three sides, and offering a private, green area reserved for public use.

The lighting project developed by the architect Piero Castiglioni takes into consideration the functions of the different rooms while simultaneously enhancing the historical and contemporary surroundings created by the architect, Mario Cucinella.
In the archive area, for example, accessible only to authorised personnel and the museum's curators, the general lighting has been achieved using IN60 linear luminaries with white finish with some special versions for non-standard lengths. As integration, accent lighting comes from Palco spotlights ( Ø 51mm) with spot and medium optics installed on Low Voltage tracks. 

In the basement, the museum's true exhibiting soul, the lighting requested by the MCA studio involves lighting units incorporated into the architectural organic shapes. The grazing light from the Underscore InOut luminaires located under the floor highlight volumes and textures in the space. The Underscore InOut luminaires follow the curvilinear flow of the perimeter and are inserted in a protected cyma moulding in relation to the paving with a light strip pointing towards the wall. The general lighting in this area comes from the small diameter (Ø 38 mm) Laser recess lights and with a special RAL finish to chromatically blend into the surroundings. The vast central entrance hall on the ground floor is a meeting point for visitors and is the intersection off which the different areas on the floor branch out: the bookshop, reception, bistro and access to the internal garden. In this case, the artificial lighting has been designed indirectly: View wall lights and Underscore light lines are positioned on two different levels and point upwards to highlight the vault and coffers.

Laser Blade XS recess lights with a white finish have been used for the bookshop and reception areas, in general light version, except for the specific area of the reception where the same kind of recess light was used but with controlled luminance. Laser Blade XS in minimal version with medium and spot optics in the vestibule doors overlooking the garden area were used to highlight the objects on display in the transit area. 

The main stairs leading from the ground floor to the second floor have two cyma mouldings in which Underscore InOut light lines have been inserted in Top Bend and Side Bend version, depending on the radius of curvature. A further special product was developed for the Bistro stairs. It was vertically inserted on the part of the wall that is the cornerstone of the turn on the stairs. 

Ascending the stairs, you come to the mezzanine level where the Fondazione Rovati's offices are housed with alternating open spaces and meeting rooms. The general lighting was created with Laser Blade XS Contrast recess lights along the perimeter of the rooms, while the specific lighting for the workstations is entrusted to IN90 pendant linear modules with microprismatic screens to achieve a controlled luminance and a UGR<19. 

The first floor is used for exhibitions with different rooms, each one with a specific layout. An artificial lighting solution was chosen in this area using Low voltage tracks, in minimal and recess version, along the perimeter of the rooms and Palco spotlights ( Ø 51 mm) with medium and spot optics, that provide general basic lighting. Still on the first floor, the corridor is also an exhibiting area where general lighting is provided indirectly from the View wall lights that light up the vaults, integrated by the lighting that focuses on the tapestries hanging along the corridor. For greater uniformity on the works considering they develop upwards, Palco spotlights with wall washer optics installed on LV track with fixed rod, were used.

The second floor is set aside for temporary exhibitions, events and meetings so the best lighting solution was identified in the use of tracks and spotlights for an accent lighting that integrates general lighting obtained from Underscore lines of light with opal diffuser screens. 

The Coffee Shop and Bistro overlook the garden courtyard. Both are run by Michelin-star chef Andrea Aprea who is also in charge of the restaurant on the top floor of the foundation. These two spaces have been designed by Flaviano Capriotti Architetti. In the bistro, the architect, Carpiotti aimed to revive the tradition of Milanese cafés from the 1900s. Everything revolves around a bronzed-brass semi-circular bar that punctuates the space and directs the gaze of guests towards the greenery outside. Here we can also find the work of art entitled Entrare nel tempo, omaggio a L.R., that the Fondazione Luigi Rovati commissioned from the artist Mauro Ceolin. The artificial lighting integrates the natural light from the windows, while obtaining an intense light on the tables in the evening, thanks to the Laser recess lights and Palco spotlights.

The Andrea Aprea restaurant is on the top floor of the Foundation and features eye-catching surroundings with panoramic glass wall over the Porta Venezia park and the city's skyline. The interior has a contemporary feel where quality materials converse with works of art. The site-specific work created by Andrea Sala, Il vestito di un riflesso particularly stands out. The relationship with the place and its important collection of Etruscan artefacts is maintained in the large central hall with walls covered in Bucchero ashlar (characteristic black ceramic the Etruscans used to make their vases) made to design by the architect. The artificial lighting is essential in defining the atmosphere of a place dedicated to taste: an imposing circular glass Murano and gold leaf lamp is the heart of the room and converses with the inclined perspectives of the walls and ceiling, transforming the whole environment into a kind of proscenium to assist the chef and his staff with their work in the open kitchen. Palco Spotlights on recessed track project light onto the tables.

Outside, the lighting concerns both the façade on Corso Venezia and the internal part of the building and garden. The lighting control designed for the internal façade highlights the rhythm of the structure: the upper part has a regular mesh of fixtures where Trick luminaires were installed with 180° blade of light effect to enhance the façade's shapes. For the central part, on the other hand, the iPro with spot and medium optics highlight the verticality of the façade and illuminate the fillings of the central arches. 

These spotlights have also been used, with a specific strap, on branches of trees, to achieve the effect of light coming from inside the foliage. The spotlights, as with all the luminaires used for the project, have DALI power supply units and are inserted in the control system to define the light scenes.
Lighting on the façade on Corso Venezia is based around small accents of light dedicated to specific architectural parts of the building and highlighting of the telamons, individually lit by a spotlight, while in order to create a three-dimensional effect on the façade, the balcony was backlit.
In order to respect the LEED parameters and relative Standards on Light Pollution, all the light sources are pointing downwards or, in any case, have sufficient protection to prevent the emission of light flow upwards. 


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  • Year
  • Client
    FIDIM- Fondazione Luigi Rovati
  • Architectural project:
    MCA Mario Cucinella Architects
  • Lighting project:
    Piero Castiglioni
  • Structural engineering:
    Milan Ingegneria
  • Plant Engineering:
    Manens – Tifs
  • Landscape Consulting:
    Greencure and Landscape
    Marilena Baggio
  • Bistro and Restaurant:
    Andrea Aprea
  • Architectural project:
    Flaviano Capriotti Architetti
  • Lighting Project:
    Rossi&Bianchi Lighting Design
  • Certified building:
    LEED- Certification GOLD
  • Photographer
    Michele Nastasi
    Giovanni De Sandre