PIAZZA IN ANCONA
LOCATION Ancona, Italy
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli, Edoardo Guazzoni, Paolo Rizzatto
The area designated for the new square is adjacent to the axis that runs from Piazza della Repubblica through the entire center of the city of Ancona to Passetto. Compared to this axis it is centrally located in the basin between the Citadel and the relief of the Guasco and Cardeto mountains. From the port to Passetto, the city has three different and successive parts: the ancient city, the nineteenth-century city, and the twentieth-century expansion. All three of these parts have their own square representing them. The Plebiscito Square, long and narrow, rising towards San Domenico, set perpendicularly to the sea, is the axis of symmetry of the ancient city, its central place unifying it and constituting the very image of this part of the city; Cavour Square is the generating system of the nineteenth-century city, ordering the design of the rental houses facing it and their neighbors, establishing the new dimension of the built-up area of this part of the city (tall houses with homogeneous fronts, peremptory definition of a single way of living).
This fabric generates several minor squares: piazza Roma straddling the two cities, the ancient and the nineteenth-century, and piazza Stamira, which are formed following the rule of the nineteenth-century fabric, beyond any function, according to the logic of the self-representation of residence. Finally, the twentieth-century fabric whose goal is Piazza IV Novembre on the other side of the city, a high square open to the sea, which addresses, albeit in pretentious terms, the theme of defining a strategic place in the city’s geography with the construction of a memorial. The square in these three parts of the city takes on a meaning closely related to the logic of construction of the parts themselves; it is for each of them a place where their general characters are summarized. To design a square today means to measure oneself against this problem, having in front of a city that is the sum of all these parts and others, it is necessary to build a place that has meaning in itself, that becomes a reference for the whole city. Analyzing the alternatives posed by the theme of the square and the characters of the place where it is built, three different possibilities emerge: assume the characters of the nineteenth-century city and complement them with the new construction of the fronts of the buildings to be renovated (this solution, which is theoretically possible, is compromised by the existing new buildings); allocate the area to a garden (given its small size, this seems to be a fallback solution, both for the green areas – occasional logic, shattering and scattering of greenery – and for the area in question, which will never be able to take on a new unity with the help of greenery alone); provide for the location of an urban function and fill in the vacant space with the construction of a public building to replace the former military bakery, as in the original drafting of the nineteenth-century plan (this choice, contradicted by the administration and the call for bids, has the disadvantage of increasing the process of centralization of functions, the level of congestion and the contradiction between the center and the outlying areas).
The three alternatives seem to have strong negative aspects, yet they highlight the need to reconstruct missing li-slate by returning the plan design to its original arrangement, to define the square without making use of the restructuring of its perimeter and without locating an urban function that would cause congestion and imbalance.
All these arguments led us to propose the construction of a covered square that would take on its own well-defined character and become a landmark for the entire city. The place is defined by a building that, being completely open on all sides, allows its crossing and can contain the most diverse functions that take place in a square or in protected public places (loggias, arcades, etc.) such as the market or other public events like museums, exhibitions, etc. Its construction (pillars and roof) stands with its own individuality that compares with the surrounding city without contradicting it but taking on its characters (fronts of adjacent buildings) as complementary characters. Such typological hypothesis has its grounding in the history of the city.
And proper to the city an open but covered public place that sometimes takes on a specific function, such as the covered markets of the Gothic city, but often stands as a place where different public functions take place (such as the ground floors of municipal buildings, arcades, loggias, etc.). It is a place that contains a meaning beyond individual particular functions and stands as a civic place par excellence, where the citizenry gathers for an urban event. This solution, valid undoubtedly for the whole city, stands outside the identity of the three cities of Ancona; it is an element of the modern city that considers the historic city in a new unity. The three cities are already unified by the axis that connects the port to the Passetto. Adjacent to this axis, the covered square with its own form proposes itself to the historic city and the modern city con-temporaneously. Analyzing the solutions in the history of similar buildings, it can be seen that they share a distinguishing character, which is the lack of a definition of their use. The arrangement of the pillars supporting the roof is almost always regular and square-meshed, as if to indicate the maximum degree of undifferentiation of the use of the covered area. This scheme has already been taken up by modern architects who have emphasized its significance beyond particular functions. Two examples of great interest are: one by Tessenow, a design for a covered but open building, a building placed in the countryside, a dense system of supports of a large roof, the simplest form of building a collective shelter. The other, Mies van der Rohe’s design for a museum, in which the supporting mesh of the roof becomes the guide, the fixed image for differentiated use from point to point. The possible functions in buildings of this kind as we have already repeated are diverse, from the market to the museum to the theater; yet this building can simply be a place of passage that represents, beyond its use, its meaning. And the meaning in our case is of a collective place par excellence. In the pillar-free areas there are four staircases leading to a basement that is built taking up (indoors) the elements of the square above. We have not indicated precise destinations on this floor either, considering possible different functions. It is a large hall divided into three parts of which the central one is characterized by the repetition of the mesh of pillars that are the bases of the pillars of the upper floor: near the stairs there are two common classrooms. This basement is a necessary support for the activities taking place in the square. The vertical and horizontal structure is made of iron for the above-ground part of the building and reinforced concrete for the underground part. The pillars, with a square cross-section, are 40 cm on a side, hollow internally, and 6 m apart. Their height is 14 m. The roof is made of iron. All metal parts are painted in dark color. The floor is made of exposed smoothed concrete squares. The staircase foyers are plastered in brick pink and covered with an iron and glass skylight as well as the entrance walls, which are fully glazed.
Massimo Ferrari (edit by) Antonio Monestiroli Opere, progetti e studi di architettura Electa Milan 2001
Francesco Moschini (edit by) Antonio Monestiroli Progetti 1967-1987 Edizioni Kappa Rome 1988