1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
1991-2004

Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy

The church dedicated to Padre Pio is a sacred building with ample open space for the public, yet its design is deliberately non-monumental and welcoming. The project was based on two fundamental principles: the use of a single type of stone that would be in harmony with its surroundings, and the idea of a church that was open to all. A piazza leads naturally into the main body of the church, the forward-sweeping wing-shaped roof and the ample glass frontal panes – with the story of Revelations on great coloured tapestries – are clear messages of inclusion.

More Info

The yearly increase in pilgrims visiting the town of San Giovanni Rotondo called for the construction of a new church, one with a wide path leading to it and large open spaces to receive and organise the masses of pilgrims who periodically flock to this raised plain in the Gargano region of Italy, home to Padre Pio. The church was built adjacent to the monastery and, despite its vast size, its innovative architecture carves out a protected place of prayer, a shared space that blends in with its surroundings and looks out towards the distant sea.

The arched structure of the church was made out of blocks of beige Apricena stone. The decision to use this stone as the sole building material for the new church was fundamental and rendered it a homogenous whole. The fact that the church was being built in a seismically active region was further impetus to explore new and innovative structural solutions. Rigidity usually means fragility, but thanks to the techniques used to assemble and pre-compress the massive blocks, this monumental arched project is able to dissipate energy and absorb the stresses generated by earthquakes.

The 22 supporting arches are lined up in two rows (interior and exterior) in a radial pattern that flows outwards from the altar, with decreasing sizes and an accelerated rhythm as they move further away. The arches support the secondary wooden structure for the overlapping roof panels, secured onto sets of steel struts. Even this distant spacing of elements, so that the roof appears to float in empty space, is an integral feature of the structural autonomy of the parts, allowing them to move independently during an earthquake and thus increasing their resistance.

The rounded surfaces of the roof follow the spiral thrust of the structure and lean on one another lightly, letting sunlight filter through to the inside. Just like in 17th-century churches and paintings, a single ray of light shines on the altar, the centre of the liturgical celebrations.

Credits

Client: Provincia dei Frati Minori Cappuccini di Foggia

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects – G.Grandi, senior partner in charge

First phase, 1991–1996:
Design team: K.Fraser, V.Di Turi, M.Palmore, C.Manfreddo, M.Rossato, S.Ishida (senior partner), L.Lin, D.Magnano, P. Bodega, E.Fitzgerald, with M.Byrne, B.Ditchbum, H.Hirsch, A.Saheba, G.Stirk; I.Corte, S.D’Atri (Cad Operators); D. Cavagna, S. Rossi (models)
Consultants: Ove Arup & Partners + Co.Re. Ingegneria (structure); Ove Arup & Partners / Manens Intertecnica (services); Müller BBM (acoustics); STED, Austin Italia (cost consultants); Tecnocons (fire prevention); E.Trabella (planting); Studio Ambiente (urban planning); G. Grasso o.p. (lithurgical advisor)

Second phase, 1997–2004:
Design team: V.Grassi (associate) with V.Di Turi, D.Magnano, M.Rossato, S.Scarabicchi and M.Belviso, E.Mijic, C.Pafumi, M.Piazza, G.Robotti, W.Vassal, D.Vespier; I.Corte, S.D’Atri (Cad Operators); D.Cavagna, F.Cappellini, S.Rossi (models)
Consultants : Favero & Milan (structure); Manens Intertecnica (services); Müller BBM (acoustics); HR Wallingford (roof drainage system); Tecnocons + C.Manfreddo (fire prevention); P.Castiglioni (lighting); F.Origoni (graphic design); D.Lagazzi (stone consultant); N.Albertani (timber consultant); Mons. C.Valenziano (lithurgical advisor); M.Codognato (art consultant); G. Muciaccia (site supervision)

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