“God said «Let there be Light» (Gen 1,3)! God’s first word created Light, dispelled darkness, removed sadness, illuminated the universe, gave all things a pleasant and joyful appearance. The sky, from the depths of darkness, appeared in all its beauty, as great as the eyes can now testify […]
[…] How can we ever praise light enough, since the Creator Himself thought it was good from the beginning?”
St. Augustine, City of God, 11, 21-22
The light of Artemide illuminates the project for Refettorio Ambrosiano. It is a subtle light, yet critical to perceive the architectural space as a venue for communion and sharing, for meeting and exchanging, for social relations and mutual education.
Refettorio Ambrosiano welcomes people and provides physical, intellectual, and spiritual nutrition through the beauty of the premises and of their contents, both material and immaterial. Food, art works, people, bonds and relations, moods, and life circumstances are all tiny fragments of the multitudes that gather in this place, whom light strives to stimulate and support.
Inside the architecture, where the input of natural light turned out an important and significant feature at different day times, the lighting intervention is designed to be subtle and perfectly integrated, yet expressive and scenic. It underlines the luminous symphony through a dialogue with nature’s pace, with the behaviours of those in attendance, and provides support when natural light subsides. More specifically, the project is organized on three levels, corresponding to the three space perception stages:
• the entrance
• the dining hall
• the area surrounding the dining hall.
The spiritual significance of the premises is conveyed at the entrance by a broad window on the eastern wall, which Master Mimmo Paladino designed as a reference to Gothic cathedrals intended as temples of light. The stained glass creates beautiful lighting effects that colour the entrance area through the interaction with natural/artificial light at a given day time.
This encounter with the sun at a specific day time, which gradually changes during the year, is a metaphor for the connection of man with God, with nature and its endless cycle, of which it is an integral part.
In this space for hospitality, the lighting project comes to life with precise light accents. In the central part, Copernico lamps, like lightweight and flexible sculptures floating in space, epitomize the diffused light of hospitality: a table will be featured underneath to exhibit and share the ‘homemade’ products of the neighbourhood’s women. On both sides, Una Pro accent spotlights underline on one hand the work of Gaetano Pesce as a reference to the baptismal font and, on the other, the entrance to the bakery.
On twelve tables arranged in the dining hall – dedicated to physical nutrition – Nur lamps underline the individual confined luminous areas, acting as scenic elements. With their typical bell shape, they are arranged across the dining hall, two for each table, thus epitomizing a landscape that is almost domestic, designed for privacy and meditation.
The dining hall features a food dispensing area, fitted with Una Pro 75 lamps embedded in the copper eaves – a material reference to the big oven in the kitchens.
The area surrounding the main hall is dedicated to education on beauty and care-taking. The art works on the walls are rewarding both for the eye and for the soul. Una Pro ceiling spotlights with an L-shaped arrangement, on one side, illuminate the fresco by Cucchi. Their light is diffused across the environment and enhances the architectural details of both painted wall lunettes.
On the other side, Algoritmo – pure light integrated into the architecture – displays its immaterial presence and perfectly washes the wall while diffusing light across the hall, and thus highlighting a transit area inside the dining hall.
In the lower part of the northern side, the wood-panelled walls are broken up by four recesses with a protruding glass cut, similar to four meditation corners marking the architectural front. These spaces, partially opening up to the outside and, more specifically, to the oratory’s courtyard, feature a linear perimetral light with a warm colour temperature – Dedalo – visually marking the separation between the inside and the outside, while spreading across the recesses to turn them into lanterns for the urban space.
In addition to these premises, Artemide illuminates the technical section of the kitchens with airtight spotlights – the Ego family – and integrated adjustable linear appliances – the LED line. This area hosts to an unusual artistic copper fireplace, accurately illuminated by the grazing light of adjustable Ego Spot projectors.
Technical, service, and connection areas feature diffused-light glass appliances – Dioscuri – in different sizes.
This broad variety of cultural and artistic inputs makes Refettorio Ambrosiano a privileged venue to approach each and every person through light and beauty. It is a way towards awe, wondering, and contemplation.
Thus beauty, a goal achieved with the “appearance from shadow through light,” allows to see the venue as a true bridge and a free space to walk with the men and women of our time.