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Home / News / Architecture / MEI Genoa, the fixed abode of Italian emigration

A container of “departing” destinies, reference point over the centuries for pilgrims and travellers. The Commenda di San Giovanni di Prè, one of the most ancient complexes of Genoa, today welcomes its latest guest: the new National Museum of Italian Emigration (MEI). Immersive and sensorial, the space will recount the many stories of the same story – the emigration – from the great Italian exodus at the end of the 19th century to the “brain drain” of nowadays.

MEI Genoa, the roots of the project

The museum is located in one of Genoa’s most evocative monuments, the Commenda, a complex founded in 1180 by the Knights of Jerusalem, which adds an important evocative value to the beauty of the place. The building, which has always been a place of welcome, has over the centuries absorbed the memories of migrants who left their homeland to face the unknown.

Commenda di San Giovanni di Prè

Commenda di San Giovanni di Prè, location of the new National Museum of Italian Emigration (MEI)

The National Museum of Italian Emigration therefore stands in an almost millenary context rich in history, which will now be handed over to future generations through a multimedia and interactive exhibition. The exhibition concept is based on the idea of presenting the museum in an involving and emotional way, transforming the visit into an immersive space in which to experience the adventure of emigration.

A hi-tech space enclosed in an architectural frame over 800 years old, the MEI’s installation deliberately contrasts with the other soul of the project, represented by the significant conservative restoration work. The Commenda has in fact been “brought up to date” by numerous energy and regulatory interventions, while remaining “the same as ever”. Flanking rather than replacing, the renovation work involved the use of non-invasive construction techniques, carried out with full respect for the historic-artistic building.

MEI, the raised floor in the 12th century

Facilities, connection of the walking surface and preservation of the original flooring, the raised floor is the answer to all these requirements. In fact, our 4.0 system with resin finish was chosen for the project, in the 60×60 and 60×120 cm sizes, developed in a custom solution in terms of both aesthetics and technical details.

pavimento sopraelevato MEI Genova

MEI Genoa construction site, installation of 4.0 floating floor

Integration of the raised floor system in the project, which includes significant plant engineering work, first of all minimised the size of the ducts, which are in fact concealed in the cavity, making it easier to inspect. Its installation also made it possible to eliminate the existing height differences between the various rooms, promoting a safe and barrier-free access for visitors with disabilities.

Finally, the MEI’s floating floor was completed with a glass eyelet in correspondence with the columns, making the bases and the cobblestones paving visible.

The opening of the museum is scheduled for the end of April 2022.

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