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Reclaiming culture from Naples to Milan

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

Disused factories and abandoned warehouses are opening their doors to an eclectic series of cultural initiatives. Let's take a look . . .

Naples - Città della ScienzaFinding suitable spaces for new cultural initiatives can be a bit of a headache in Italy's picturesque but cramped Renaissance city centres. A new generation of town planners and arts administrators are moving out of town into the old industrial estates and are creating spacious, bright and modern structures for contemporary Italian culture. We visit three of them in Naples, Parma and Milan.

Hi-tech Naples
The bizarrely named ILVA-ITALSIDER industrial estate, just west of Naples, was once the centre of Southern Italy's industrial revolution. Nowadays many of the factories have closed and the area has become the focus of a cultural renaissance. Old industrial buildings have been reclaimed and transformed into museums, conference centres and concert halls and elaborate plans are underway to develop an avant-garde tourist port. The area's 'trendy' label has made it into a popular concert venue and home to the yearly Neapolis Rock Festival. But the real crowd puller is the recently opened Science Centre: 12,000 square metres of prime industrial space from the 1800s which has been converted into a stunning science museum. Inspired by similar facilities such as San Francisco's Science Center, London's Science Museum and Cité des Sciences in Paris, the centre is the first of its kind in Italy and, in the five years since its opening, has become synonymous with cutting-edge technology in Italy. The centre's aim is to bring science and technology to life through a series of interactive exhibitions, workshops and games. Go along and touch technology for yourselves.

Parma's sweet sound of music
While Naples regenerates industrial estates in the name of science, Parma reclaims its old factories for its musical heritage. Let's take a look at the magnificent Niccolò Paganini Auditorium which was opened on the site of the old Eridania sugar factory. The building, which was first opened in 1899, was converted by none other than Renzo Piano and was inaugurated with a concert of the Scala Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the maestro himself - Riccardo Muti.
The project - which cost a total of 14 million Euro - was funded by the Italian government, Parma city council and local pasta multinational Barilla and left the building's original brick exterior untouched.

Next stop, Milan

We now move further north to Milan where art enthusiasts eagerly await the opening of the Museo del Presente (Present Day Museum), scheduled for Spring 2002. The museum is situated in a disused gas works in the former Bovisa industrial estate. The museum will boast some 4,700 square metres of exhibition space as well as a series of meeting points, cafés and concert areas where you can come for a cultural breather in the relentless rhythm of city life.

Citta' della Scienza - e' Official site (Italian only)
Niccolo' Paganini Auditorium - e' Photographs before and after Renzo Piano's conversion
Renzo Piano - e' The official site of Genoa's most famous architect

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