Rotterdam-based studio NIO Architecten has doubled the exhibition space at the Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art in Prato, Italy with a futuristic new wing. The semi-circular extension of bronze-coloured metal has been built onto the existing architecture by Italo Gamberini.

The Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art is one of the only galleries in Italy dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, holding works by the likes of Anish Kapoor, Sol LeWitt and Mario Merz. It opened in 1988, when entrepreneur Enrico Pecci gifted it to the city of Prato in memory of his son Luigi. Located just outside the city in an urban area known for textile manufacturing, the Pecci Centre’s new arm envelops the original building in a broad welcoming hug, swooping in to bring some architectural excitement to an area of bland industry.

Visitors will enter the Pecci Centre through a transparent lower level, where they will find visitor's services, a bookshop and restaurant

A surreal antennae pokes up into the sky from the metal cladding like a lightening bolt, which the architects included as a sculptural feature. Maurice Nio named the project 'Sensing the Waves', after his intention for the building to be a receptor for creativity.

As well as initiating a dynamic new personality for the Pecci Centre, the design actively improves the visitor experience. It made the entrance more welcoming by moving it closer to the main road and created a bookshop and restaurant within the transparent lower level. On the upper level, Nio constructed a circular route through the exhibition space, which was previously laden with dead ends.

With the added resources of an archive, specialist library, open-air theatre, cinema, performance space and spaces for workshops, the Pecci Centre is now a future-proofed carrier for new generations of art-lovers.