words Beatrice Galilee
Carmine red terracotta tiles cover the facade of a library wing in Nembro, northern Italy, by Genoa-based architecture practice Archea Associati. The three-storey building contains reading rooms and book storage for the main library, a 19th-century schoolhouse also renovated by the young practice.
The new wing, a stand-alone glass box, sits in front of a courtyard within the C-shaped main building, with access between them via an underground passage. The multi-faceted red facade was inspired by the image of book pages ruffling in the breeze. “Initially the tiles were supposed to move,” says Archea Associati’s Lara Tonnicchi. “But when we saw how heavy they were, we realised it would have been really dangerous!”
Each 36 x 36cm tile was handmade and glazed by a local terracotta manufacturer. With its striking red facade, the building stands out against its more sober surroundings. “The idea behind the red was because it was in such high contrast with this very natural, green area,” says Tonnicchi.
The tiles act as a light filter for the glass box, which contains books from the library’s collection in a nine-metre tall case at its centre, with reading areas around the perimeter next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.