Shopping in the shadow of Mount Etna
Raimondo Ceramiche Srl
Defined by sociologist George Ritzer as the New Cathedrals of our age, modern shopping centres have been a major driver of transformation in urban and suburban spaces for more than twenty years due to their combined retail and social functions. By promoting contemporary forms of civil life, shopping centres have helped accelerate the process of urbanisation outside city centres, systematically changing the face of our cities. In their role as the nodes of these new polycentric entities, shopping centres are increasingly becoming the focus of architectural design projects aimed at creating functional, attractive and highly distinctive structures reflecting the unique characteristics of their surroundings. An ability to incorporate local cultural values and the colours and characteristics of the surrounding area and its inhabitants into the architectures of these “temples of modernity” has become the cornerstone of any successful project. This approach is particularly evident at the Centro Sicilia shopping centre in Misterbianco, a project assigned to architect Roberto Sibiano, director of the Milan branch of the firm Design International.
Extending over an area of approximately 56,000 square metres, the structure’s architecture is strongly influenced by history and the surrounding landscape, especially its proximity to Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano. Included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 2013, Etna dominates Sicily’s eastern coastal region and is loved and feared in equal measure by the local inhabitants. Its many eruptions through the course of history have shaped the landscape, creating a lava stone desert that descends towards the plain and the sea and gradually gives way to fertile woodland, vineyards and orange groves. The architects envisioned the centre as a large structure shaped by a volcanic eruption, with dark facades composed of magmatic rocks in which fissures are illuminated at night to recreate incandescent lava flows. “We wanted to pay tribute to the energy of this land and its elements,” explained Sibiano.
Inside, the building extends over a single floor reproducing the structure of a city centre, with brightly-lit theme galleries and main and secondary roads lined with 140 shops. And as in any city centre, it features intersections, signs, a large square and a variety of eating and entertainment areas. There is also a large hypermarket equipped with islands selling fresh produce, including bread, fish, pastries and pizza, meat and a delicatessen. The walls of these islands are clad with white body glazed porcelain tiles (Interni series) from Ceramica Vogue, chosen by the architects for their aesthetic and hygiene characteristics and the wide colour range which would enable them to assign a distinctive colour to each island. This vibrant palette of 11 colours ensures that the individual areas are easily recognisable and contrasts elegantly with the more rugged textural look of the monochrome external façades.
Ceramica Vogue, Interni
IN Cielo,IN Azzurro,IN Blu Avio,IN Oltremare,IN Cobalto,IN Tortora,IN Mandarino,IN Bordeaux,IN Ferro,IN Beige,IN Ghiaccio
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 1,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): GB min.
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 1-2-3-4
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 1.000 N
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant