The Glass Church of Baranzate is back to its best
Italy is a treasure trove of beauty and the Glass Church of Baranzate is certainly one of the highlights. It is small, compact, light and futuristic all at once.
The Nostra Signora della Misericordia church (also known as the “Glass Church” on account of its iconic structure in transparent glass), was built between 1956 and 1958 in Baranzate, a town in the north-west of Milan and signalled a real epochal shift in the design features and construction techniques used for religious buildings in our country.
The original project was led by architects Angelo Mangiarotti and Bruno Morassutti, alongside the engineer Aldo Favini. In keeping with the doctrine of the modernist revolution, the project was characterised by the use of specific materials, such as concrete, steel and glass. The result was a piece of architecture that, by virtue of its combination of tradition and the future, we had no hesitation in defining as:
“[…] a work capable of transcending its era, that still stands out today for its originality, the innovative roof structure in prestressed reinforced concrete and the iconic transparent glass shell.”
However, the passing of time has inevitably taken its toll on this small church – the product of a grand project. That’s why, in December 2015, a restoration project was started on the small Glass Church of Baranzate. According to the press release issued by Casalgrande Padana, the supplier of the ceramic tiles for the interior flooring, the project represented:
“[…] a story within the story, due to the sheer length of the project and the scientific attention-to-detail that characterised the whole affair, from the analysis of the original structure to the restoration itself, where operative evidence showed this to be necessary.”
After being placed under supervision in 2003, the restoration project was launched by Morassutti with the collaboration of Giulio Barazzetta, of SBG architetti (On their website you can find a whole section dedicated to the Nostra Signora della Misericordia church in Baranzate along with a special gallery). After Morassutti’s death, Barazzetta finished the project by drawing on the skills of various parties to implement an integrated design process and complete the ambitious architectural restoration project.
Of the many organisations involved in the restoration project, one of the stand-out names is that of Casalgrande Padana, which took part as the sole supplier of ceramic products. This was no mean feat, given the requirement to produce tiles in line with the original format (so as to strictly adhere to the original design layout) and colour (which was faithfully reproduced, with particular attention paid to the reproduction of the surface finish, both in terms of the grain and the reflectance). Casalgrande Grande supplied and laid 1000 square metres of porcelain stoneware tiles for the Glass Church of Baranzate (these were used for the flooring of the unique single nave that characterises the “Glass Church”).
If you go to Baranzate and pay a visit to the small and tranquil Nostra Signora della Misericordia church, you will be able to appreciate a flawless mix of past and future, of cutting-edge design, expertise and know-how applied in the creation of ceramic tiles, an aesthetic choice that – when brought together – gives renewed lightness and splendour to this humble glass treasure chest, within which lies an important part of our country’s beauty.