The church, with a single hall, transverse arches and a deep choir, was enriched over the time with 13 altars. Between 1719 and 1720, has been raised the height of the building and it was covered with a vaulted ceiling, new chapels were opened, including the chapel of the Madonna del Carmine (the chapel was designed by G.Battista Caniana and the altar by F.Juvarra) .In 1799 it becomes a parish church, dedicated to St. Agatha in the Carmine. Between 1902 and 1904, was carried out the last significant restoration, led by the architect. V. Muzio.
The church of Sant’Agata nel Carmine is located on the main street of the upper town of Bergamo and is the most important religious building in the historic town, after the Cathedral and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Our Studio has been commissioned by the parish priest to make an overall plan for the restoration, the scheduled conservation and a project of fund raising. When we were called the conditions of the church were precarious due to the strong presence of damp entering from the roof and rising from the ground. Besides, because of some adjacent excavations carried out in the past, the church suffered from some structural collapse, with the formation of cracks along the left side of the nave, the triumphal arch and the vault. The church’s wall surfaces should also be restored and its technological systems needed to be upgraded.
In dealing with this complex project we availed of the contribution of a team of experts: a specialists in the geometric survey (with laser scanner architectural methodology), an historian - archivist, a structural engineer, restorers and communication experts. The instrumental survey was accompanied by a campaign of monitoring of the deformation of structures, of their degradation and of cracks, which is essential to check the structural problems of the building. The survey on knowledge of the history of the building was carried out with bibliographical and archival research, in order to find all the elements of knowledge of the origins and transformations of the architecture. We performed the survey of materials, based on a campaign of stratigraphy carried out by the restorer, by means of which we have “mapped” and studied the materials of construction and finishing of the old building and all the pathologies of degradation, in order to define the methods of intervention.
Besides we carry out the restoration project (divided into six lots), we drawn up a program of scheduled maintenance and a fund-raising project. A team of people involved in the community has collaborated at the project for the fund raising: the parish priest, the representatives of the Pastoral Council for Economic Affairs and some volunteers from the parish. The project for the fund raising and for the scheduled maintenance are closely related to the restoration project: they are strategic to trigger a process by which the parish priest is able to find the resources to maintain the parish property and to take prompt action, through constant monitoring, when problems are still easily solvable. The Restoration Project, Fund Raising and Scheduled Maintenance for the church of S.Agata in Carmine, was honored at the ITALIAN HERITAGE AWARD© - International Prize for the Promotion of Cultural Heritage - in the section “Award for Knowledge, Protection and Management of Architectural Heritage”.
Thanks to the funds collected by the Fund Raising project was until now possible to work with three phases of intervention that have allowed us to make the building safe to use and laid the groundwork for future actions.
The first phase of work involved the structural consolidation of the triumphal arch, the left side of the nave and bell tower (with the insertion of threaded rods), the safety of the apse stucco, which risked to fall off, the safety measures of the electrical system and the removal of architectural barriers, thanks to a lifting platform. The second phase of work involved the restoration of the roof, the consolidation of the vault with carbon fibres and the restoration of a sample chapel, in which have been brought back the light colours dating to the eighteenth century. The restoration of a chapel sample was finalized in order to develop the restoration of all the internal decorations. The third phase of work involved the restoration of the side facades (we decided to retain the historicized image of the church, by maintaining the texture of walls in sight), the main facade (for which were featured the original colours) and the bell tower. The renovation of the exterior of the building has been completed.
[by Marco Paolo Servalli & Adele Sironi]