At the foothills of Mount Corno, an unexpected building has emerged from the terrain. Sculptural and austere, the contemporary fair-faced concrete structure, with its angular spire, could easily be mistaken for a church. In fact, it is a sports facility. Dubbed the Fieldhouse, the building is located in the Italian town of Laghetti — which houses just over 1,200 residents — halfway between Trento and Bolzano on the banks of the Adige River. The adjacent nature reserve makes for a spectacular counterpoint to the pared-down form.
The municipality of Egna tapped local firm MoDusArchitects to demolish the old building that once housed the change rooms and sports association. The firm was challenged to build a new extension that improved the facility’s energy efficiency while utilizing the existing photovoltaic system. The resulting 430-square-metre building was completed in November 2022.
Nestled between a five-a-side football pitch to the north, the existing football field to the west and the steep terrain to the east, the Fieldhouse acts as a point of connection between the small-town settlements of the South Tyrol valley, where limited swaths of land mean residential, light industrial, and sports infrastructure sit side-by-side. The building is sited at the inflection point between the valley and the mountain, mediating between these two vastly distinct landscapes.
The facility’s elongated rectangular plan appears at first to be quite conventional. But its bold, geometric elevation and sectional relationships demonstrate a far more complex design approach. Moving laterally across the site, the structure transforms from a retaining wall to a long linear roofline (which boasts 52 photovoltaic modules) to the 11-metre-tall tapered lighting tower at the building’s eastern side. A visual marker within the landscape, the spire reimagines lighting poles — a requirement of stadium design — as a striking architectural feature.
Constructed from reinforced, exposed concrete cast-in-situ, the building reads as a monolith, with a combination of smooth and bush-hammered slabs imparting a subtle textural interplay. Meanwhile, geometric cut-outs in the uniform façade form trapezoidal pillars that play off the slope of the site.
Programmatically, the space also needed to serve as an inclusive recreation hub that would serve the whole community. “We wanted to give the community a project that was accessible and would grant full visibility to all the activities of the functional programme, especially those aimed at the public and spectators,” explains Sandy Attia, co-founder of MoDusArchitects. “This sparked the decision to position the volume longitudinally, thereby creating a new social space.”
At the building’s entrance, a panoramic staircase leads to the first floor, which hosts a caretaker’s apartment, offices, a meeting and teaching area, a cafeteria, a kitchen with both indoor and outdoor dining areas, and a terrace that can accommodate everything from parties to public meetings. Below, the partially submerged ground floor, connected to the football pitch, houses new change rooms with showers and toilets to accommodate thirty players, along with equipment storage facilities and a small indoor shooting range operated by the local division of the Tiroler Schützen — an organization which was once a voluntary army and remains rooted in the local culture.
With 50 per cent of the Fieldhouse’s energy consumption covered by renewable resources, its design not only gives a new public character to a fairly standardized typology but does so in a sustainable way. The new sports facility has enabled the surrounding field to be more functional, while also forming a new community hub, thoughtfully integrated into the landscape.
Fieldhouse, designed by local firm MoDusArchitects, is at once a much-needed piece of civic infrastructure and an architectural showpiece.