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description

previous state

At the beginning of the main road of the historic centre of Ivrea, the area in which this project's work was to be carried out is delimited by a space that has grown around a junction, Freguglia Square, at the entrance to the old centre of this city in Piamont, Italy. Despite its central situation, this square gave off a confused general impression because of a profusion and dispersal of elements that obstructed a unified reading, while a series of ill-resolved different levels hampered accessibility at many points. The absence of clear-cut routes for pedestrians, the neglected state of the ornamental gardens in the gravel surface of the square and high levels of use, mainly as a transit area because of the proximity of a bus station and a big open-air car park, rather than because of the space itself, imposed a set of dynamics on the square that worked against its potential as urban public space.

aim of the intervention

In remodelling the Freguglia Square, the City Council aimed to achieve general reforms in the setting by converting this public space into an area with its own identity, yet one that would be more permeable to its surroundings. Clarifying its general functioning meant converting the square into a space that would be clearly defined and recognisable through overcoming its previous vagueness and lack of definition, and thereby initiating the transformation of the site into a dynamic space at the threshold of the old city centre.

The project was structured into two phases. The first was to bring about improvements in the functioning of the square through consolidating the small pre-existing gardens. The second phase aimed at achieving a new commercial thrust with remodelled kiosks at one end of the space. These were the only survivors, and to some extent heirs, of a former structure of market stalls that, scattered around the edge of the square, defined its present rectangular form.

description

The project of remodelling Freguglia Square, bearing in mind the maintenance problems that frequently appear in garden areas, and the aim of conserving the magnificent trees that had somehow survived in the neglected parterres, gave new geometric and material dimensions to the ground surfaces. A mosaic of materials and textures was defined, using sand, gravel, wood, steel and concrete according to the location of the pre-existing trees. The square was repaved, keeping generously conceived spaces for the trees that were marked out by the metal containers that held the beds of vegetal soil and gravel, enabling flowers to be planted while delineating the general composition of uses and spaces.

In overcoming the barriers that cut the square off from its immediate surroundings, the remodelling work gave particular attention to access and the differences in level with respect to the adjoining streets and parking spaces, offering new entry points, enlarging others and rethinking the meeting points between square and streets. The main access point to the square, where there had once been a wall that only opened up to incorporate a small and inadequate set of connecting steps, was redesigned as a continuous set of steps that, taking in one of the access points to a neighbouring parking area, transformed one of the square's borders with an adjoining avenue, which had previously been excessively abrupt, into a lightly graded slope of steps.

The access points of the parts of the square that opened into the car park and the street leading into the old centre were remodelled, maintaining a certain degree of independence by way of the varying geometry of the structures of the gravel-covered beds of the trees that, parallel to the street, offered precise delimitation, defining the square as a particular place but one that was open to its surroundings. In order to provide functional connection, but to create a perceptual distance with the adjoining parking area, the border area between the two spaces was remodelled with new entry points and trees that act as a visual filter before the sea of parked cars. The project has incorporated two kinds of lighting. One is at ground level, integrated into the gravelled areas to light the perimeter of the square, while general lighting comes from an arrangement of lights near the benches.

assessment

Once the work was completed, the square was freed of the physical and perceptual barriers that had distanced it from the population and had led to its evident under-use. The general recasting of its layout, with due attention to the problems that had obstructed its proper functioning, and to the other former elements that had given it its character, has adapted the space to pedestrian flows and to the everyday life of this central urban meeting point so that it now participates in the vitality of nearby streets for which it can also act as a stimulus. The new situation is an affirmation of the wish to create a public space in an area that has hitherto been ill-defined and isolated from its surroundings so that it now offers new possibilities of transit and relaxing that enhance its public and urban functions.

Mònica Oliveres i Guixer, architect

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technical sheet

CITY: Ivrea (23,680 inhabitants)

COUNTRY: Italy

BEGINNING OF THE PROJECT: 2000

BEGINNING OF WORK: 2001

END OF WORK: 2002

AREA: 3,000 m2

COST: 140,000 €

credits

AUTHORS:

Ivano Pomero, Studio Cartello

COLLABORATORS:

Berlotti, Bolatto, Pomatto