Modern library of the Camaldoli monastery
The Discovery and Binaria mobile shelving systems have been chosen to play a central role in a contemporary project for a sublime historical and spiritual setting. They can now be found in the heart of the monastery complex of the Camaldoli Benedictine community, which was established a thousand years ago in the Casentino forests, near Arezzo.
The Camaldoli community of Benedictine monks was founded in the early 11th century by Saint Romuald. In a single setting with natural surroundings, it brings together the seclusion of a Holy Hermitage with the community life of a Monastery, where a modern library designed by architects Menichetti + Caldarelli has been built.
The library is in the basement of the complex and it features a network of corridors leading between long, narrow rooms. Under the old stone and brick vaulted ceilings, centre stage is taken by the simple, orderly rows of Fantin mobile shelving systems.
«We wanted it to be possible to read the different strata of the library like a book,» – states architect Stefano Menichetti – «Therefore, we ensured that the layers, signs of passing time and traces of human action all remained clearly visible. We were immediately impressed not only by the extremely clean-cut designs of Fantin’s products, but also by their technical characteristics, which enabled us to increase the storage capacity in the library premises. Thanks to Fantin, the project was analysed and completed flawlessly».
There is a balanced blend of the past and the present in the perfectly poised interior design scheme. Fantin’s metal furnishing solutions – all of which have non-toxic white powder coatings in this case – safeguard memories and facilitate access to a collection of approximately 35,000 books, parchments, manuscripts and registers which can be consulted not only by monks carrying out spiritual research but also by pilgrims and visitors from all over the world.
“Menichetti + Caldarelli was the first architecture firm to grasp the potential of Discovery and Binaria, which were designed with creations just like this in mind,” states Salvatore Indriolo, Fantin’s Art Director. “These mobile shelving systems are visually appealing and delightful to use, as part of a flexible, timeless architectural solution”.
The following were installed in the modern library in Camaldoli: two large Discovery units with 15 and 24 modules, a Binaria unit with 14 modules, Opera drawer units and Uno shelves, extending for a number of metres in length.
«The Camaldoli monastic community had been thinking about creating a new library for years. However, there were questions about where it should be and how it should be organized,” reveals Father Alessandro Barban, the Prior General of the Camaldoli Monastic Community. “It was necessary to take into account the space available in the monastery while also catering to the specific organizational needs of the contemporary world. The architects at Menichetti + Caldarelli came up with a project that masterfully, flawlessly fused the age-old structure, digital organization and artistic beauty, using Fantin furniture to create a place to preserve memories stretching from the 13th century to the present day. Stepping into the library allows visitors to get away from the hectic pace of everyday life and move into a profound existential realm where listening and reading prevail… It is a place where time and space come together to create an atmosphere for study and research, where intellectual insight is a gift of the spirit».
As Father Alessandro Barban goes on to say, «The Fantin storage systems are beautiful in their simplicity. We placed great importance on beauty as a quality and a means of portraying contemporaneity: we needed furnishings with clean-cut, simple and modern lines. I’m very pleased with the Fantin furniture, which fits in perfectly in our premises and comes in a spotless white tone representing purity. White can clear the clutter from the minds of people who are studying and carrying out research. It sends positive echoes through our brains, so there couldn’t have been a better choice. As well as its understated beauty, we are very pleased that the Fantin furniture is both sturdy and practical. Camaldoli library is old and modern at the same time. It is a place where we come into physical contact with the volumes, we feel the weight of the books, touch them and open them, thus setting free light thoughts that are in stark contrast with the weight of the paper… The gravity of heavy books and the lightness within them await us and help us to rediscover ourselves and our loftiest human nature. The Fantin furniture has the crucial task of safeguarding the tools that pave the way – through a sort of miracle – to thoughts on a higher level and deeper emotional and cultural development in humankind».
Photos: Francesco Degli Innocenti
Wooden tables and other furnishings: Lago