Minimalissimo

Gubbio Cemetery Extension

architecture
Location
Gubbio, Italy
Architecture
Andrea Dragoni
Photography
Alessandra Chemollo

Gubbio Cemetery is a monumental brick structure that rests on the hillside of Gubbio town in Italy. The area's Medieval planning fabric was created in relation to its ancient history, with narrow streets and subdue architecture. Many notable landmarks retain their timeworn facades, but the new extension to the Gubbio Cemetery breaks the mould to introduce a more contemporary congregation of geometric volumes.

Designed with the vision of Andrea Dragoni, the rectilinear plan is said to reflect the town's rural layouts. However, upon closer inspection, they noticeably contrast each other to amplify the old and the new. Where history is preserved on the surfaces of grey stones, the newly built space has a polished outline made of travertine. This contrast does not separate the project from its context, but rather adds other layers to Gubbio. The new form of limestone being used shares a natural touch and a similar hue, warming the eyes of passersby.

Entering Gubbio Cemetery, one can see that Andrea Dragoni tributes the original structure by replicating existing cubic forms for his design. Six opposing units face each other with a gridded system to hold the remains of one, with four courtyards being carved out in the middle to create interstitial spaces for contemplation. At those moments, vast openings directly lead up to the sky like a symbolic gesture. Also at those moments, one can take a break and meditate in silence.

The repetition of form in Gubbio Cemetary Extension creates an infinite viewpoint, mesmerising and invoking thoughts. Scattered throughout the design are breaking moments that redefine public spaces, including a grand structure lying at the entrance of the extension, artworks by Sauro Cardinali and Nicola Renzi, and thin slices across the new structures to inform the change of time.

In a way, Andrea Dragoni has transformed the cemetery into a space desired to be visited. It's remarkable how design can reconstruct stigma of a building function. With the new extension, Gubbio Cemetery can be seen as a museum in itself, where memories of the past are stored like artifacts to be spectated and treasured.

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