S. Benedetto Complex [with Rafael Moneo]

Norcia is a town accustomed to the devastation of earthquakes as the history of the Basilica of San Benedetto illustrates.  For centuries the periodic destruction and rebuilding of the Basilica has offered testament to the enduring and evolving values essential to Norcia, Perugia, Italy and all of Europe. As the home of the patron Saint of Europe, the reconstruction of the Basilica is a delicate operation that should balance the needs of restoring the church as a home of prayer, recovering the plaza as the heart of the city, and introducing a cultural center that celebrates and explains the rich history of this cornerstone of European culture. The Basilica and its artifacts, the campanile, the Portico delle Misure, the Monastero, the Roman ruins and the public space that they nurture must all be rebuilt after the destruction of the 2016 earthquake.

This project combines a delicate and respectful approach to the restoration of these monuments with an inspired and modern sensibility to recreate an atmosphere that is both serene and contemporary.

Typology: Cultural
Location: Norcia, Italy
Year: 2020
Site area: 2,000 sqm
Client: MiBACT
Status: Competition
Architects: Rafael Moneo Studio (Rafel Moneo, Hayden Salter), Alfio Barabani Architects, Oblyk Studio
Consultants: Fabio Bianconi, Marco Filippucci, Paolo Forlini, Francesco Mancini
Design team: Eleonora Socci, Federica Rossi
Structures: Area Progetto Associati
Mechanical systems and lighting: Flu Project, Drisaldi Associati



Within the church, the interior space seeks to return the Basilica to a familiar condition, respectfully restoring the contours of the original temple while introducing this floating landscape above that emphasizes the unity of the church and fortifies the careful articulation of the nave, the transept and presbytery. The long perspective towards the altar is gently framed by a curving light wood slat ceiling which is suspended from above. A warm colored limestone floor echoes the tones of the ceiling above and emphasizes the cruciform layout of the Basilica. The access to the crypt is from the stairs in the campanile on the south side. Once below, a visitor has the opportunity to visit the roman ruins and resume the cultural itinerary beyond the basilica itself. The crypt is united with the Monastero at the level of the roman ruins.

The gentle sweeping curve of the nave ceiling is met at the transept by a complementary billowing curve, both framing and enhancing a view of the altar and apse. Pews are arranged around the presbytery.


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