ECÒL by Luca Boscardin

Nestled within the dynamic spaces of the Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art in Prato, Italy, a vibrant array of geometric forms dance with colorful lines, breaks, and curves, breathing life into the courtyard. Positioned along the entrance pathway, between the original structure of the museum and its newest addition, emerges a new playground designed for children and teenagers alike.

Known as L’Anima(le) del museo, the project is the result of the collaboration between ECÒL and Luca Boscardin, artfully weaving together architecture, graphic design, and sculpture to conjure and embody the essence of a fantastical creature, inviting visitors into a realm of imagination and wonder.

This space of indeterminate yet profound significance, situated between the architectural narratives of two distinct eras, is one of the diverse offerings of the Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art in Prato, featuring exhibition halls, educational workshops, a cinema, bookshop, and more.

Originally conceived by Italo Gamberini in 1988, the older structure is characterized by a fragmented geometry, composed of square-based parallelepiped modules housing exhibition rooms on its upper levels, while sinuous environments with curved walls gracefully accommodate various functions on the ground floor.

Photo © Claudia Gori

This juxtaposition of shapes and forms seamlessly blends with the surrounding path, creating a harmonious flow for visitors. Maurice Nio’s extension, built in 2016, further enriches this architectural apestry, echoing the motif of circularity in its pathways—a defining feature that shapes both the museum’s essence and the visitor’s journey.

Adjacent to the original building, this addition introduces a curvilinear body that not only embraces its predecessor but also expands its distributional and functional potentialities. Deliberately, Nio left an interstice between the two structures, a space left open to interpretation and possibility.

Photo © Claudia Gori

This is the site of the collaborative project envisioned by ECÒL with Luca Boscardin, which weaves together the geometric principles of the two different architectures to create a unique playground: a new vibrant space, dense, open to interaction and play. Within this realm, geometries converge to form a canvas akin to that of a fantastical creature.

Three-dimensional elements rise from the ground, hinting at various parts of the creature’s anatomy — the mouth, antennas, claws, a scar, and the tail — immersing young visitors in a world where imagination ECÒL with Luca Boscardin. L’Anima(le) del museo. Just like the Anima(le), the project by ECÒL and Luca Boscardin possesses an elusive and evasive essence.

Photo © Claudia Gori

Formally conceived as a playground to complement the activities of the Education Department at the Pecci Center, this intervention fosters an architectural concept derived from existing structures, the interstitial spaces between buildings, and the programmatic ambiguity initially articulated by Maurice Nio across the museum’s structures—a realm conducive to imagination.

In fact, the museum’s extension, envisioned by the Dutch architect, had already broached this theme in juxtaposition to Gamberini’s modernist edifice. The new body of the museum, particularly the novel vertical element — an architectural landmark conceived by Maurice Nio to symbolize an antenna capturing signals from the future — beckoned various interpretations even prior to its completion.

Photo © Claudia Gori

Distinguished in recent years for regenerative interventions that employ unconventional methods to revitalize public spaces, ECÒL boasts extensive experience with the city of Prato, exploring its urban and communal dimensions. The collaboration with Luca Boscardin, who contributes his expertise as a designer and illustrator, has injected vitality and unleashed the project’s imaginative potential.

Much like the enigmatic creature dwelling within the museum, this project navigates through crevices and subtly reveals itself, ultimately blossoming into a realm of experiences and interactions. It breathes new life into the dialogue with existing structures, inviting a renewed exploration and reimagining of their purpose and possibilities. L’Anima(le) del museo doesn’t instill fear; rather, it extends an invitation to play, transforming an ordinary public space into an unexpected realm of exploration. Source by Luca Boscardin.

Photo © Claudia Gori

Location: Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci di Prato, Italy

Project: Luca Boscardin

Collaborators: Elena Rosati, Anna Kralova, Anna Kubiak, Anna Macellari

Participation: Sociolab

Companies Metalworking: Dmetal (production and assembly of statues)

Construction works: Buildingmp (construction of plinths for the statues)

Client: Municipality of Prato, Italy

Project size: 675 mq

Inauguration: 5 April 2024

Photographs: Claudia Gori, Courtesy of The Architecture Curator

Photo © Claudia Gori

Photo © Claudia Gori

Photo © Claudia Gori

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