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Port Museum in Trieste

Detailed proposal, final proposal and building site supervision


In the early 2000s, the Port Authority of Trieste established a Museum complex inside two recovered buildings, located at the Old Port of the city. These buildings, the Hydrodynamic Power Station and the Power Converter Substation, were originally dedicated to the production of energy for the entire sector.

This project involved the fitting out of the Hydrodynamic Power Station, the Power Converter Substation and the design of the surrounding open spaces, in order to give a new identity to the Museum complex.

The Hydrodynamic Power Station, built around 1890, was renovated in 2012. The original building is organized into three main parts, with a total area of approximately 2,000 sqm, divided as follows: the North, originally a power converter substation and now destined to become a conference room; the South, symmetrical to the North, the location of the workshops and the great hall of the vertical motor pumps; and finally the central part of about 900 m² which originally housed the boilers, subsequently divided into three rooms; one of these contained some original boilers, while the other were left without a clear purpose.

The exhibition design is concentrated in the central area of the building just described. The intervention decisively improves the use of this space with the realization of a permanent device, made of metal frames and pained infill iron sheets, that reproduces the area originally occupied by the series of boilers. The new thickness of the walls permits the installation of new display cases within the walls themselves. Thus, the exhibition space is maximized, permitting the display of different types of objects.

The Power Converter Substation, a building constructed around 1913 by Giorgio Zaninovich, a student of Otto Wagner, was renovated in 2014 and is made up of two main parts which form an L-shape. The first part houses the switch room and the control room, with busbars to 27,000 V, while the second part, facing the Hydrodynamic Power Station, houses a double-height room with two different switchboards in low and medium voltage, still perfectly preserved. This building is now dedicated to the historical archives of the Port Authority on the basement level, while the other levels serve as study rooms for the consultation of archival materials. A new entrance opens longitudinally towards the NE. Both the street level entrance and the first floor are finished in custom-designed oak. Additionally, on the first floor we re-proposed some spatial rules in close interaction with the geometrical elements of the building and the original architectural seriality of the machinery housed therein. This upgrades the spaces in close interaction with new typographic signals and installations.

Port Authority of Trieste

dimension: 3.270 sqm
budget: 563.800 euro
project: 2012-2013
completed: 2014

MHK srl
Tassinari Vetta

Francesco Bogoni
Matteo Sirinati

Alessandra Chemollo

— Polo museale del Porto. Trieste, Identità dell'architettura italiana n° 12, pg. 94-95, Edizioni Diabasis, 2014 — Allestimento museale e multimediale Sottostazione Elettrica, La Sottostazione Elettrica del Porto Vecchio di Trieste, pg. 102-109, Luglio editore, 2013

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