The new Ponte Milvio market
The New Ponte Milvio Market in Rome, opened in May 2008, has all the characteristics of a major urban project. The new complex accommodates the traditional local market and provides a rational and protected layout, particularly in terms of the road system. The project by architect Francesca Daffinà aims to create a diversified urban space that enhances the social characteristics of the market and exploits its potential as a venue for meeting and interaction. This closely-knit architectural project uses attractive and familiar materials, including terracotta for the façade coverings, ceramic tiles for the interior paving in the market area and natural porphyry for the exterior pavers. The project conveys a relaxed and intimate image, a complete and consistent city microcosm that combines a multiplicity of functions. At the same time the project exploits the key points of attraction of the location close to a historic bridge over the Tiber in a zone with a historically established urban morphology. The key to consolidating the appeal of the complex is the fact that the functions are all combined in the same structure. The cornerstone of the project is the ground floor market and its octagonal block layout housing the stalls, where the geometry rejects a strictly orthogonal structure to offer variations in interior pathways and open, non-rigid viewpoints. The facades of the structure highlight the octagonal nature of the layout. While the façades maintain their unitary nature by way of the materials, they break up into a series of corner walls, as if the layout of the internal octagonal blocks were emerging onto the outside to merge with the surrounding public space. Inside the building the functions are superimposed. The service car parks with rotating parking spots are located on the first underground level, while the private garages are situated on the second underground level. The first floor houses the shopping Gallery and the second the eating spaces opening onto the large terraces, which offer a view over the city and serve as further meeting spaces. The Gallery follows the same varied open-plan concept as the layout of the market, providing complementary activities to the product offerings. The project is based on a clear urban layout that encompasses both the daily use areas of the market and living spaces, in a constant interplay between the architecture volumes and the urban empty spaces, terraces, walkways, roof garden areas and the central fountain, as in a city that has grown up over time. The crucial architectural element in terms of the urban image of the complex is the covering material chosen for the facades, which make up a total external surface area of approximately 3,000 square metres. The unity of colour and warm, typically urban tone of Impruneta terracotta contrasts the differences in terms of texture and functions of the material. The curtain walls for heat energy performance consisting of smooth large-format terracotta slabs (30×100 cm, Terra Flat from Palagio Engineering), coupled to the metallic supporting substructure, provide a finely-knit fabric. The opacity of the curtain walls contrasts with the terracotta solar screen elements (Terra Tube from Palagio Engineering), which break up the solid image of the facades into a semitransparent fabric , creating a strong urban design based on lively chiaroscuro effects on the outside and filtered lighting inside the building.