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Abitare il tempo. Italian contract goes to the Theatre

 
     

This ambitious design project was completed through the synergy of a handpicked team skilfully coordinated by Main Contractor Fontana Grande.


The restoration of the State Theatre of Musical Comedy in Baku provided Italian design studios, architects and contractors with the opportunity to build what would prove to be a “benchmark” for international calls for tenders linked to the world of culture (theatres, libraries, museums…).

Italian companies, expertise, and execution can compete with anyone on earth in terms of design, skills, and capacity, and the “Italian Contract goes to the Theatre” event staged during the Abitare il Tempo 100% Project (Verona, October 21-23) provided abundant testimony. This brilliant case history regards the restoration of the Azerbaijan State Theatre of Musical Comedy of Baku by a group of Italian companies led by General Contractor Fontana Grande (based in Schio, Vicenza).

Case history is an apt description because the trade fair booth was equipped to both document the project in its entirety (with timelines, work methods, utility system solutions, selection of materials, etc.) and introduce the players to the market for future projects, and also show other Italian companies the validity of the specific approach applied. “We wanted to prove that Italy has professionals and companies that can work together to provide a product of the highest quality previously defined clearly in all its technical and design aspects while meeting the customer’s every expectation for the coherence and completeness of the whole”.

The call for tenders was not the simplest ever staged, and competition was fierce. “Our competitors – Corrado Dalla Fontana recalls (FontanaGrande) – were highly specialized in producing extraordinary renderings. If the battle had been waged on those grounds, we probably would have lost. We chose a different, apparently more difficult approach: to present the project not as much or only as a “pretty picture” (end result) but rather instead as a “process”, pointing out the various steps in its construction, the complexity of the work, and the indispensable necessity for absolute coordination”.

Baku, with a population of around 3 million inhabitants, has more than 10 theatres: the Theatre of Musical Comedy, the Drama Theatre, the Russian Drama Theatre, the Theatre of Opera and Ballet... and these are by no means mere flagships. Baku is a city where people actually go to theatre, an institution deeply-rooted in the local lifestyle and the continuation of its culture. Perhaps for this reason a work like this had rarely been outsourced before and was previously managed directly by the State. The project submitted by the Italians won the day “also and above all – Corrado dalla Fontana continued – because of the type of design, which meshed precisely with the Customer’s need (for a classic theatre) and could be developed with coherence and completeness: an Italian theatre, a majestic, classic, Italian theatre with “all’italiana” styling, built by Italian hands, no less”. “We sought the involvement of a number of companies, primarily design studios with whom we’d already worked, and professionals of proven experience in all the fields necessary for a project of this kind (architecture, decoration, structural engineering, system engineering, acoustics, and stage design).

Given the shortage of time, it was also a good thing that we all spoke the same language. Bear in mind that the entire phase between the call for international tenders and the submittal of a project was completed in an amazingly short time: it took us just 3-4 days to pick a team that was ready in 2 or 3 weeks to go inspect the site, draft the preliminary design project complete with economic estimate, and then submit it to the client…within the next thirty days! As you may easily imagine, each step in a process like this is extremely delicate and has its own importance in making the winning offer”. As always, you need people who are willing and able to work whenever and however required. The project was impressive: instead of the rendering (which were presented later), the work team decided to submit colour plates drawn by hand that would make the theatre look even more “real” than any rendering. “Over 270 plates drawn by hand provided the visual synthesis of the work of all the different professionals, materials, and know-how. These ranged from companies specialized in architectural design and restoration to stone floor suppliers, plasterwork producers, wood flooring installers, clay processors, upholsterers and fabric producers, illumination technology firms. In every one of these phases we were able to obtain the cooperation of companies with extraordinary expertise”. Even in purely stylistic terms, the work was far from simple. “In regard to Italy’s extraordinary monumental heritage, we find superimposure everywhere: virtually any monument you care to visit invariably contains within itself elements from the time in which it was produced, others from previous times, even often some elements of “modernism”, or in other words, the future. The work we did in Baku was no exception, and we had to reach a balance in which every element of style was historically and artistically believable”. 100% Project - Abitare il Tempo


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