New San Cipriano Monastery


Special projects

The project for the new Benedictine monastery of St. Cipriano in Prosecco, Trieste is undoubtedly the most absorbing of all the works presented in this booklet. The theme was complex and the context of the construction of this unique building was particularly delicate. As voluntaries, we assisted the nuns of the Monastery of St. Cipriano in all stages: from draft design to fund raising, from management of the building site to cataloging and furniture removal. The design satisfies the classical canons of the monastery according to the Rule of St. Benedict: a structure built around a central cloister and a church for religious services. No concession to formalism was made, not even in structural details. However, there was a quest for severity and clarity, for simplicity and economy. Due to the monastery’s significant size (approximately 5000 sq. m) and due to its location - an oak woodland hanging over the gulf of Trieste - the main aim was towards architecture that, although characterized by an architectural plan of great expressive strength and by volumes of significant dimensions, could also integrate and dialogue with the surrounding environment. This had to be accomplished, however, without shying away from its rationalist plan and its rigorous forms; or even worse, renouncing the necessity of its humble solemnity. Secondly, the desire was to build an “already existing” and “inhabited” building rather than just a “new” building. The nuns had to relocate from a place inhabited for more than 600 years to a complex built in two years. In our opinion, this was accomplished thanks: to the adoption of a forced account system; extensive use of construction materials donated by private donors; traditional construction systems such as chestnut trusses; but most of all thanks to the skilled-workers that contributed to the construction of the monastery who shared and participated in the project’s goals. Without doubt, the most pleasing words on the day of the inauguration were those which asked if “we had refurbished an existing building”. This was our intention, and to a great extent, this was achieved.