Villa Pastega Manera was built in the seventeenth century by the Pastega family from Veneto. The villa, with its barchesse and chapel, which is built on an area of around 51.000 m2, was chosen to house “Fabrica”. This project included the creation of study areas, laboratories, offices, facilities such as a library and auditorium, a cinema, meeting and refreshment areas. From 1993 to 1995 the villa was restored and the annexes were renovated. This work was accompanied by an in-depth study of traditional techniques, including the creation of a collection of over 200 material samples (two identical collections, one in Treviso and another in Osaka). Old bricks were used, as well as opus signinum plastering and marmorino finishings; floors were re-laid in the Palladian style, or using floorboards.
The project included redesigning the villa’s hall – elliptical, double-height and uninterrupted from the front to the back of the villa – the creation of an auditorium in the greater barchessa and of a glassed-in area connecting the two barchesse, which replaced the existing, unsafe brickwork. The auditorium’s curved, bare concrete wall projects from the barchessa’s outer facade; towards the inner portico a large opening offers a view over the courtyard and the large pool on both sides of the new access path to the smaller barchessa. This path, marked by a series of free-standing columns with truncated-cone capitals, creates a sort of spatial and geometric preview to the main fabric extending, in a straight line, beyond the barchessa and on almost to the boundary of the area.
The long parallelepiped - that was built during the second stage of construction together with the new areas, most of which are underground, and the elliptical piazza - consists of a series of solids and voids between two retaining side walls. The internal pathway passes between offices and laboratories and leads to the lower levels or up and out into the open, on the terraces. Because of their particular character and dimensions, however, these transit areas play the role of both halls and galleries, waiting areas and “places for communion and communication between people, between people and history or nature”, according to Tadao Ando.
The use of natural elements, such as light and air, as part of the architecture reaches its climax in the huge elliptical piazza, excavated eight metres deep. Where it intersects with the ellipse’s curve, the straight building is literally cut to the quick, revealing its inner layout and structure, culminating in the series of free-standing columns on the terrace that “continues” the line of columns leading to the barchessa. On the opposite side, the ellipse’s virtual space intersects with a huge sunken terraced stairway which gives access from the villa’s driveway down to the centre of the piazza. The rooms around this area keep constant visual contact with the piazza through floor-to-ceiling windows. This area leads to a remarkable underground zone – a sort of spiral driven into the ground – that is illuminated from above and is used as a display area. The bare reinforced concrete structure was built using form moulds which define its vertical and planimetrical profile and dimensions; the door and window frames are hot-galvanised steel. The enclosed surfaces total 11,000 m2, the volume of the construction is 16,420 m3, most of which is underground.