Transformation of Pierluigi Nervi former tobacco factory into research and expo facilities
Built by Nervi-Bartoli from 1949, the Manifattura Tabacchi was a symbol of the rebirth of Bologna after World War II (44 percent of the city was destroyed or severely damaged). The Manifattura was not only an efficient industrial machine, but also a concrete sign of modernity for the Bolognese. Until its closure in 1998, the Manifattura functioned as a city within the city: the daily meeting point of a thousand workers.
As a city, the former Manifattura is a conglomeration of shapes and spaces of varying sizes, prestige buildings and small buildings, monumental but also minute and narrow structures, paths, shortcuts, tunnels, plazas, courtyards and urban areas. Instead of demolishing and rebuilding to facilitate the inclusion of new features, OMA's project maximizes the reuse of what already existing - both the monumental parts, designed by Nervi, and the modest, anonymous ones, added later in the 50s and 60s.
The convention centre, car park, new power station, the extension of the deposito Ballette, a small courtyard building for offices, and a number of additional operations and extensions constitute the entirety of the new.
The original, monumental structures will be occupied by scientific labs. Workshops, offices, machinery and rooms for experimentation will occupy the warehouses, where tobacco used to be processed and packaged.
Reflecting on the program, we decided to address the demand for exhibition space in a different manner than proposed by the brief. The conversion of large former industrial areas into exhibition space is by now a familiar phenomenon; on the one hand these changes enhance the original space, on the the other hand the transformation marks the end of its identity as productive space. Accordingly, the more monumental spaces of the Technolpolo will be reserved for science, while exhibitions will take place in new spaces.
The combination of new interventions, transformations, and the decommissioning and demolition of the less valuable residues, built after 1960, make the new Tecnopolo an effective urban plan, a complex area of science and research permeable to the public, and connected to the city, able to retrieve, uncover and make available the richness of the space and of the technical facilities of the former factory.