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three public squares in Reggio Emilia. IT
double phase competition
date: december 2004 / january 2005
client: municipality of Reggio Emilia
quantitative data: 3 public squares, approx. 19.000m2
with acme architetture
three public squares in  Reggio Emilia  
The design approach adopted for the competition of three public squares in Reggio Emilia led to the development of a method that could be applied to diverse areas of the program. The method (defining nodes–active urban fabric–paths) emulates the rule of fractals, in which a structure repeats at different scales, as in a Chinese box; the spaces are read and reinterpreted through the application of the method itself. This design approach strives to maintain formal coherence and a unity of purpose: in recognising the potential structural deficiencies, each of the three public squares experiences an intervention aimed at restoring a sense of balance between its nodes–active urban fabric–paths.
Piazza Prampolini square acts as a well-established urban node within the living fabric of Reggio Emilia. Our intervention does not alter the square's nature and dimension, which reminds of a definite 'interior space' within the town. In order to develop its function as the town's 'living room', the entrance to the square is anticipated by light paths connecting the area to its immediate surroundings. The position of the benches enhances the existing axis: the traffic area defines the rest area, a section equipped with a multifunctional series of extensible, adaptable and lighting vertical elements.
Our intervention aims at creating a living urban fabric in the three squares: spaces must be connected and hierarchically reorganized, so that the squares can be perceived as a single entity from both the longitudinal and the transversal side. Our purpose is to give the place a recognizable identity, providing a harmonious scenic aspect with a single space-planning gesture. It is a theatre scenery, where a multifunctional system of poles unifies the different areas. The possibility of modifying the poles in different ways – e.g. turning them into light sources, green elements or fountains according to the different requirements – also reminds of a theatrical space.
The intended goal of the project is to meet the connecting and re-organization needs of the area, creating a path that may encourage the emergence of a living urban fabric: besides the three urban centres being connected, a lively area will spontaneously originate and rapidly grow; thanks to its specific features, the area will develop its own 'magnetic' power and thus become a place where to spend time and not only to pass through. Next to the existing driving and cycling paths, pedestrian routes will be added, creating a branching pattern that will not set pre-established directions, but will leave the pedestrians free to choose their own path. These routes acknowledge the uncertain nature of these urban areas, which are still to be defined. Vague spaces, "terrain vague".