The´Salone dei Fiori´ in Villanova d´Albenga, Savona

The 'Salone dei Fiori', Villanova d'Albenga, Savona
  • The 'Salone dei Fiori', Villanova d'Albenga, Savona The 'Salone dei Fiori', Villanova d'Albenga, Savona
Client: Municipality of Villanova d´Albenga
Chronology: Design: 2002-2004 - Realization: 2005-2008
Architectural design: Mario Gallarati with Martina Kucich, Laura Roccatagliata, Giacomo Gallarati
Structures: Fulvio Ricci
Technological systems: Roberto Napoletano, Raffaele Di Palma
Works manager: Maurizio Calidonna

The realization of a new building destined to be a social-cultural centre and the contextual settlement of piazza Isoleri, is the last act of a program aiming at improving the value and the qualification of the walled town of Villanova d’Albenga. The old centre of Villanova represents in Liguria an example of planned medieval town of extreme interest, both for the number of historic data at our disposal and for its having maintained in the centuries a substantially unchanged extension inside almost intact walls.
It has, in fact, an urban plant organized along a main axis (today’s via Garibaldi), connecting the two doors, cut across orthogonally by a series of secondary routes, along which the basic building tissue is set. To a system of routes organized on two directions corresponds a serial urban tissue, consisting in the repetition of analogous blocks of houses, without a particular hierarchical organization of spaces and fronts; moreover, a plant like that does not favour the formation of internal polarities, so that the presence of the small church of Santa Caterina, which occupies a serial lot, only contributes to the creation of a small open space which cannot be called a square. On the contrary, it is outside the town walls that the main public spaces are created, particularly in correspondence with the town doors: to the west today’s piazza Mazzini with via Molinetto, overturning axis of the urban organism, on which even the Town Hall abuts; to the east, towards Albenga, piazza Isoleri, a large indefinite antinodal space, delimited by the walls, the confluence of the torrents Arroscia and Lerrone and the provincial road.
The project for the new qualification of piazza Isoleri through the building of a new edifice to be destined to social-cultural purposes, in substitution of the old prefabricated building, follows a trend, partly already evident in the last few years, to qualify the area better, that is to transform today’s antinodal public space into the main urban pole, where to concentrate the main cultural and recreational public activities. In this case to the theme of the special building was added that of the structure to be given to the urban space, just as important in the vision of a town as a whole: on one side considering the new volume not in terms of isolated architecture but of a front built to define the urban space and dialogue with the walls; on the other giving adequate conclusion to the main urban axis, while trying to reduce the visual impact of the heightened road.
The chosen solution was that of a building developing on one level, a sort of terraced structure with a covering partly made as a garden, which ends against the gradient road as a mediation element between the square and the road; besides, it was also conceived as to recall the idea of a “citadel” or “bastion” outside the walled town but directly related to the western door: in this sense, apart from the articulation of the volumes towards the square and the treatment of the walls in stone “faccia vista”, is conceived also the system of entrance on the extension of the urban axis which finds its conclusion in the circular distribution court (with a winding ramp leading to the covered public space).
Starting from the circular court (which permits a separate distribution between the library and the centre for activities of public entertainment), the architecture organism develops along orthogonal counter-axes which, at a pace to compare with that of the routes in the walled town, distribute the various functional spaces.
The space comprised between the two distributive axes now gives place to a central unitary space, the “covered square”, which becomes the fulcrum of the entire system. The role of the great unifying nodal space, a rectangle of about 25x12 metres, around which the distribution corridor looks out on an arcade, is further on accentuated by the asset of its volumes, with its shed-like covering on lamellar wood beams (covered with glass at the top, also with reference to the glasshouses, so important a presence in the whole plane of Albenga), which features the new culture centre as the most important urban scale architectural emergence in town.