Filled and empty Palladian spaces
Giuseppe Di Loreto (Studio geom. Pavanello)
Shopping centres are amongst the architectural constructions that have greatest influence on the lifestyles of contemporary society. The market building, the archetype of the shopping centre as we now know it in the western world, first emerged in the United States in the 1950s. Mainly located in non-urban areas, shopping centres are undergoing significant changes: initially large and anonymous containers for goods, they are now acquiring architectural quality. Some large-scale retail chains are assigning design projects to major international firms of architects, a trend that is particularly pronounced in proximity to large cities but in reality extends throughout Italy. A recent project reflects how the architectural style of the market building has evolved. Architect Giuseppe Di Loreto focused on a historical narrative, evoking two cultural models with compositional elements borrowed from classical architecture and the post-modernist language introduced by the work of Aldo Rossi when in the 1980s he designed various works based on twentieth century Italian architecture. The new complex revisits a sophisticated language with the aim of promoting architectural culture in places used by an extremely heterogeneous public. The layout is that of a courtyard open on one side, similar to a Palladian villa with a main central building and two porticoed wings. The proximity to Venice suggested a historical revisitation in a contemporary vein, firmly rooting the project in the local area and its culture. In the choice of porcelain tiles in various sizes from Ergon, the architect created a kind of linguistically innovative fusion, replacing traditional plaster with a ceramic skin manufactured using a sophisticated technology capable of narrating an architectural event without undermining its cultural background. The shopping micro-city is located on a site that is fortunately isolated from the non-descript urban surroundings with their heterogeneous buildings. In spite of its considerable mass, the weight of the structure is alleviated by the double line of the arcade. The play of filled and empty spaces creates areas of shadow and light that are accentuated by façade surfaces characterised by the sharp edges of the ceramic tiles. The roof, which by its nature is not always in harmony with the building, is hidden by three recessed crowning blocks. An interesting feature is the guttering supported by cubic elements, a tribute to the Istrian stone gutters that graced the buildings of sixteenth-century Venice. As always, Ergon ceramic tiles proved perfect for requirements, an ever innovative material capable of narrating the great architecture of the past in a contemporary spirit.