Water and sun by the sea
B. Ramella, S. Corrado
There was once a perfume factory in this part of Imperia, a coastal city in Italy’s Liguria region. The modest industrial buildings were later converted into a supermarket and a tarmac-surfaced car park was built. It is a gloomy place that does however have the good fortune to be just a short way from the sea.
A private residential and commercial redevelopment project launched last year has given the area a new look, using funds obtained from tax deductions on urban development costs to create a large and visually appealing public space.
Conceived as a 2,000 square metre public square with a longest side length of almost 70 metres running parallel to the Aurelia state road, the railway and the beach, this entirely pedestrian zone has rapidly become the focal point of a suburban area that previously lacked a place where inhabitants could meet and socialise.
To emphasise the important symbolic function of the new Piazza Borgo Prino, the architects chose a direct and appealing language for the paving, as architect Barbara Ramella told us. « The municipal council asked us to design an empty space that could be used during the summer months to stage various events, » she said. « Given its close proximity to the coast, the town is subject to environmental constraints so soft colours were chose to blend in with the Ligurian landscape.
« Sun, water and earth are the key elements of the design: on one side a large sun dominates much of the surface; on the other there’s a series of water features. At the centre of the square the shapes and colours of the paving represent a small watercourse that snakes its way down from the inhabited area towards the sea. When designing the paving we compared the proposals of various companies and eventually chose Marazzi because it was the only firm that offered both the technical characteristics and the range of colours we wanted. Through its Marazzi Engineering division, the company also did an excellent job of custom cutting all the porcelain tiles making up the design of the concentric circles and rays. The tiles were all waterjet cut in-factory, numbered and assembled on site. Only this way was it possible to create the designs and their colour tones to perfection. »
The entire pedestrian area was paved using porcelain tiles supplied by Marazzi. The Marazzi Engineering division, the Marazzi group company which provides design and construction support for interior and exterior surface covering systems, especially curtain walls and raised floors, helped the architects firstly in choosing the products that would guarantee good aesthetic characteristics and slip resistance, and then in the final design and installation by gluing onto the screed. The work was completed by paving the surfaces around the large swimming pool inside the residential complex.
So make a note in your diary for the coming summer, cradled by the gentle lapping of the sea and the murmur of the fountain, feet resting on the sun and face pointing towards the moon.