MoDus Architects Sculpts a Concrete, Tree-Hugging Visitor Center on the Italy-Austria Border
“Architectural homicide” is the fate described by Sandy Attia of a series of structures that once welcomed visitors to Brixen, a resort town on the Italy-Austria border that’s also known as Bressanone. First, in the 1800’s, there was an eccentric loggia, followed by a pair of modernist pavilions in the 20th century. All have been demolished—“making way for the next victim,” the MoDus Architects founder says wryly of the site located at the entrance to the city’s historic center.
What stands there today is MoDus’s TreeHugger, the 4,600-square-foot visitor center that won an architecture competition organized by the city and the Bressanone Tourist Association. Although its curved poured-concrete form looks monolithic, it was actually constructed around the site’s existing plane tree and features an interior courtyard of sorts that brings in light to the tourism staff offices on the second floor. The building’s uplifted corners pay tribute to the pagodas populating the gardens of the Bishop’s Palace, which is next door. “We raised its body on tiptoes,” co-founder Matteo Scagnol says of the structure.
But the elevation also “frees up the ground level, giving it to the city as a public space,” he adds. Indeed, the street-level space is almost entirely glazed, welcoming tourists and locals into the information-booth and library areas and opening onto a plaza. But is TreeHugger here to stay? Quips Attia: “At least for a while.”