Published on: March 30, 2010
Francesca Storaro recently won a competition for the Lighting of Piazza Mazzini, Albano Laziale. The architecture was designed by Architects Marco and Gianluigi Giammetta (Giammetta&Giammetta architects).
Extensive information about the project by Francesca Storaro follows:
Plans to improve piazza G.Mazzini form part of a delicate process to safeguard and restructure the zones that most distinguish, in historical and architectural terms, the town of Albano Laziale.
The Municipality has accorded this square an important role, in both â€śfunctionalâ€ť terms, as the entrance to the town from the Appian Way, and in terms of â€śurban developmentâ€ť, as a road â€śintersectionâ€ť controlling the distribution of traffic flows in the town.
The aim of the project is to turn the square into a place dedicated not only to social activities but also, through the language of architecture and lighting, to narrating the history of the town. Thus, architecture as a communication tool, using materials, forms, lights and colours to generate a suggestive picture, a space that can make a mark in the memory of those visiting it.
Albano forms part of a well-defined territorial and urban system that was created in ancient times.The presence of the volcanic lake nearby and the geomorphology of the land made this a strategically important military site, leading to the birth of one of the most important Roman castras, the Castro Severiano.
The castra, founded by Septimius Severus for the quartering of the Parthian legion, consisted of 5,000-6,000 soldiers and relative families, as well as craftsmen and merchants living there, making up the first significant settlement of the new urban aggregate that, with time, would go on to form the town of Albano.
The castra had a regular geometric form: rectangular, laid out parallel to the Appian Way.
The architectural system had five basic elements:
- the walls, enclosing and protecting the village as well as defining its territorial limits;
- the Porta Praetoria (some of which still visible today), giving access to the castra from the Appian Way;
- the large cistern that guaranteed the townâ€™s water supplies;
- the nymphaeum
- streets inside the walls, made up of the cardo maximus (the main street) and decumanus streets running perpendicular to the cardo.
The history of the town began with the Roman castra. The castra was the first organised settlement here, and represents its historical origins. The town would grow further in medieval times, again running parallel to the Appian Way, and in the Baroque period, with the typical trident. The castra, with its regular, linear and rational forms, was a prime example of Roman organisation and ingenuity. Our project is based on the memory of the castra, its layout and basic elements.
Access to the square, from the Appian Way, in the direction from Rome to Albano, will be marked by a monolithic element, which horizontally echoes the ancient Porta Praetoria, but vertically, through the overlapping and drawing of material elements, is a metaphor for a gate that is no longer used to keep people out but to allow access to the town.
From the gate, a sign on the ground, first at ground level, then rising up, moves in a direction parallel to the Appian Way, and through a number of changes in height turns into a functional element (seating). At the same time this sign circumscribes the space of the square, separating the area from the street pavement.
This material sign extends all over the square, as far as a water element: the cistern.
A fountain opens out onto the public space, containing elements which, with their material form, recall the bases of the ancient underground cisternone; some made of porphyry, others of glass, representing the transparency of water.
This space is marked by a small descent, taking the observer to the level of the cistern, in ancient days buried underground, and now emerging from the depths.
The architectural design, with its simple yet synergistic alternation of elements, is brought to life at night by a complex lighting â€śsystemâ€ť.
Through their material form and their intangible part, i.e. light, the installed lights will bring out the signs of the ancient Roman Castra from the dark:
- lighting of perimeter; lampposts going towards Villa Doria and micro-lighting, highlighting the stone seats going towards the square, are used to simulate the ancient walls defending the Roman castra. This lighting marks boundaries and encloses spaces, the metaphor of a wall that has lost its materiality and is turned into light.
- lighting of path: lights fulfil the dual purpose of providing both light and public seating, tracing, in the square, the â€ścardoâ€ť, Castra Albanaâ€™s high street.
- lighting of signs: – tracing of lines on the ground, virtual paths of inset orientation lights, telling the story and dynamics of the campâ€™s â€śdecumanusâ€ť streets.
- lighting of volumes: – lights to emphasise forms and volumes, lighting up the â€śPorta Praetoriaâ€ť metaphor and the fountain recalling the ancient â€ścisternoneâ€ť, which comes alive at night as it emerges from the ground below.
Posted by: Mitja Prelovsek