The steel fortress

Designer: Arch. Agostino Hirschstein, Arch. Francesco Da Rin
Project: Museo della Grande Guerra nelle Dolomiti
Work management for the first lot of the roofing: Arch. Mario Baldin, Soprintendenza B.B.A.A. Veneto Or.
Structural project: Arch. Agostino Hirschstein
Client: Comune di Cortina D'Ampezzo - Regole D'Ampezzo
Financer: Cariverona e privati
Time of construction: 1999-2000
Steel profiles: Palladio Spa
Photographs: Arch. Francesco Da Rin, Arch. Emilia Perego, Arch. Agostino Hirschstein Arch. Marino Baldin
The formal and the functional restoration of buildings that have marked history has always been one of the most interesting topics of architectonical working.

Despite this, the operation of “re-discovering”, giving new life to what has been forgotten, perhaps people were forced to forget or did so by choice, is not always able to give new meaning to architectonic works which were thought and planned to meet needs that nowadays are completely meaningless.
The reclaiming of the “Tre Sassi” fortress in Valparola (Cortina D’Ampezzo) as a museum, is the visible evidence of the greatest disaster which can affect humanity, thanks to the skilful work of the architects Hirschstein and Da Rin, it has recovered a new dimension linked to the need of remembering sad events. On the one hand the restoration design wanted to give back the image of the blockhouse as a real evidence of the war experience, and on the other hand it wanted to guarantee the running of museum activities inside the building by the complete restoration of the corridors and spaces of the old fortress. The fundamental element used to carry out these design needs was steel. Thanks to its great flexibility of use, it is particularly suitable to carry out structural solutions which allow the complete use of the spaces dedicated to the exhibition. Its use was highly valuable in creating the possibility to differentiate, also visibly, between the new functional planned structures and the original existing fortified building. The surprising flexibility of steel makes it the real creator in the carrying out significant structural elements concerning the technological aspect and also safety and attractiveness. This is why a particular importance is given to the ceilings on the first level and to the fastenings which close in the external openings of the old building. The ceilings have a supporting frame of steel profiles with intrados from corrugated sheet iron which stand out about 10 cm from the wall intentionally projecting itself over what the fortress once was. Considering the functional aspect, they allow all the displaying rooms to be horizontally connected as well as the housing of technological plaints which would have spoilt the old vertical structures.
The steel profiles of the external closings with strengthened glass, guarantee safety of the displayed objects and control the micro-climate of the internal spaces, an important aspect for a building located at a significant altitude. Also outside of the fortress the use of steel was quite important to carry out a footbridge and safety stairs to assure proper access to the exits even in the event of an emergency.
A subtle and enchanting game is created between the imposing structure of the old fortress and the elegant lightness of the metal elements which contribute to its rebirth.

By Manuele Elia Marano

Acciaio Arte Architettura 19