Spezzano gets a town centre
Alice Terzi Studio e Cristina Gagliardelli
In Spezzano, a town in the municipality of Fiorano Modenese in northern Italy, little remains of the original small agricultural community, overwhelmed by the onslaught of industrial buildings and new residential constructions that have sprung up along state road 467 since the 1960s. Spezzano today has 8,600 inhabitants but its urban layout has always lacked a historical centre or a place recognised as such by the population. In recent years the municipal administration of Fiorano established as one of its priorities the provision of an „agora“ (the meeting place for practising commerce, religion and democracy in ancient Greek cities) to the communities within its territory that were still lacking in one. For Spezzano this goal was achieved in November 2012 when the new Piazza Falcone e Borsellino was opened as part of the work on the „Podere Corsini“ estate. The private „Spezzano Centro“ executive urban plan relating to the plot of land known as „Podere Corsini“ located between Via Statale and the San Giovanni Evangelista Prison and the annexed farmhouse facing onto the state road in the area known as „Fredda“ was approved by the municipality of Fiorano in May 2008. It consists of a total area of 35,500 square metres, of which the POC (Municipal Operating Plan) previously submitted by the land owning company (Corte Corsini srl) planned to allocate 6,000 square metres for residential use, 5,000 sq.m for private tertiary use and 600 sq.m for public tertiary use. As an extra price for approval, Corte Corsini undertook to pay the municipality around 20% of compensatory works, including the sale/renovation of the farmhouse and construction of the pedestrian public square. It also undertook to allocate 30% of the houses for rental, 10% for rental with a purchase option and 20% for subsidised sale. The entire lot, which along with the buildings and the square also comprised around 9,000 sq.m of parkland, roads and car parking lots (partly surface and partly underground), was designed by the practice Archilinea, which was also appointed the works supervisor. The concept behind the project needs a word of explanation. To ensure that the inhabitants would be able to identify with the new development, the parties agreed to look for architectural solutions based on accepted models of an urban centre. The result is a courtyard complex with three buildings located on the sides of a square. The system of round-arched arcades that encircles the square, the clock tower, the connecting tunnel with wrought iron roof reminiscent of that of an early 20th century railway station, the materials consistent with those historically used in the area, the colours and many other stylistic features all come together to create the image of a late nineteenth century building development typical of the Emilia region. The first thing that was done was to renovate the farmhouse, which has become a civic centre and association headquarters, and to restore all the existing architectural elements. The other two blocks built with an L-shaped layout extend over a surface area of 5,650 square metres, including 5,000 sq.m allocated to tertiary and 650 sq.m to residential uses. The ground floor of the central building houses the supermarket, pharmacy and other retail activities. The first and second floor are used as offices and just one section is allocated for residential use. Porcelain tile with recycled content from the Walks/1.0 collection by Floor Gres was used to cover the external columns, the detailing of the electrical cabinet and the gallery floor. Tiles from the Horn collection by Rex were laid in the interiors (stairwells and office corridors). The square was paved with natural stone.