Perhaps it is because Lucio Dalla, who sung of the heroic era of Tazio Nuvolari and Enzo Ferrari, was recently given his farewell. Perhaps it is because so many people came from far away — some from London, others from Prague — to pay tribute to Jan Kaplicky (1937-2009): radical architect, always true to himself, creator of this museum dedicated to the memory of Drake [Ferrari's nickname]. Perhaps it is because Modena is adorned with festive banners in canary yellow — the city's official color — fluttering flags that recall one of Enzo Ferrari's maxims, "If you can dream it, you can make it." All of these things make us feel truly involved in this event, aware that if it were just another building designed by another archistar, we wouldn't be here.
The Enzo Ferrari House Museum is much more: it is an expression of a region and a manufacturing district that took on a difficult challenge — to transform its industrial history into a work of art. This had already been done in Maranello by the Galleria Ferrari which attracts over 200,000 visitors each year, and in Bologna by the Ducati Museum. In fact, in Modena there is a concentration of out-of-the-ordinary automotive passion. Besides Ferrari and Maserati, over time the city has hosted a whole constellation of manufacturers, coach builders and teams like Stanguellini, Scaglietti and Centro Sud; during the 1950s and 60s, it became a car-racing capital. And so the new pavilion — which seems to wrap around father Alfredo's workshop and the house where Enzo Ferrari was born on February 18,1898 — hosts not only the Ferraris or Alfa Romeos that Ferrari drove as director of Alfa Corse but also Maseratis and Stanguellinis.
Jan Kaplicky passed away much too early — in 2009. But this building, through the efforts of Andrea Morgante, who inherited the project, and the tenacity of Mauro Tedeschini, President of the Enzo Ferrari Birthplace Foundation, fully reflects Kaplicky's initial idea, which appeared, when the results of the competition were published in 2004, a bit excessive for a city of ancient lineage like Modena, but which has today become truly convincing.
The curved volume that can be glimpsed as visitors cross the bridge over the railway is truly a positive jolt not only for this part of the city between the tracks and a row of anonymous buildings but for the entire city. Photos do not do it justice because the pavilion — with a floor area of 4,200 square metres — is, in reality, much lower that what one might imagine from the renderings. It starts at the same height as the Enzo Ferrari House, twelve meters, and then gently descends; almost half the volume develops below ground where it gets its energy. The Enzo Ferrari House Museum is, in fact, the first public museum in Italy to use geothermal energy.
Kaplicky started with a gesture: an open hand enclosing the old brick house — almost protecting it with an open index finger and thumb — to be used as gallery reconstructing the life of Enzo Ferrari. The gesture took on another meaning and was transformed into a curved line embedded in the ground: a large Modena-yellow roof given slight movement by its ten slightly raised openings. Its construction — an area of 3,300 square meters of curved aluminum slats — really put the engineers to the test.
The heart of the museum is a white space in which visitors walk on a slightly sloping floor to discover forty vintage cars displayed on platforms like works of art. In observing the vehicles' sleek lines and plastic volumes, one understands how Kaplicky modeled surfaces, slopes and walls as though they were one large organism. Level differences are absorbed by sloping floors while the walls become floors and are connected to the circular openings that lead to the classrooms and resource center dedicated to the memory of Sergio Scaglietti, Enzo Ferrari's trusted coach builder. Each element fluidly becomes part of something else as if the museum was itself, in turn, one of these beautiful cars. Not surprisingly, Nuvolari's notes resonate in the air. Laura Bossi
Enzo Ferrari House Museum
Architect: Jan Kaplicky (Future Systems)
Project architect: Andrea Morgante
Competition Team: Jan Kaplický, Andrea Morgante, Liz Middleton, Federico Celoni
Design Team (schematics, design development, construction documents): Andrea Morgante, Søren Aagaard, Oriana Cremella, Cristina Greco, Clancy Meyers, Liz Middleton, Itai Palti, Maria Persichella, Filippo Previtali, Daria Trovato
Artistic Director: Andrea Morgante (Shiro Studio)
Interior exhibition design: Jan Kaplicky (Future Systems), Andrea Morgante (Shiro Studio)
Consulting structural and environmental engineers (competition): Arup London
Project management and construction supervision: Politecnica
Structural design, engineering, environmentals, safety coordination during design and execution: Politecnica
Project team and site supervision: Politecnica - Francesca Federzoni (integration of specialist disciplines), Fabio Camorani (structures and site supervision), Fabio Camorani (mechanical systems), Francesco Frassineti (electricals), Paolo Muratori (assistant site supervision, building works), Stefano Simonini (Safety Coordination), Fatima Alagna and Renzo Pavignani (environmental design)
Contractor: Società Consortile Enzo CCC soc. coop. (team leader), Ing. Ferrari s.p.a, ITE Group s.r.l, CSM
Technical Director: Giuseppe Coppi (CdC - Modena)