RRP was one of a group of architects asked to consider the creation of a new neighbourhood within a large 32 hectare park on the outskirts of Florence, on the site of a former Fiat car factory. The site is bounded on all sides by a busy highway with a canal to the North connecting to the Arno, approximately 1 kilometre away. The aim was to inject life into a relatively run-down district and provide much needed modern buildings in the Florence area, including law courts, offices, a bank, hotel, housing and shopping as well as more temporary structures for a variety of cultural/leisure activities.

The City Administration dictated the site density and usage, designating 18 hectares as a public park. The masterplan strategy was then developed in three three-day workshops over six months, each architect then going on to develop his own scheme.

The buildings define the public spaces. To do this they are linked together to create a wall around the park, protecting the area from noise and creating a central green oasis. Bridges, gateways and paths link the site with the neighbourhood. Diagonal links, cross axes and circular footpaths generate movement through the park.

The RRP scheme encompassed 45,500 sq m divided between the bank, offices, shopping and hotel, as well as 26,000 sq m of car parking and plant. The building forms a gateway into the site. The spine building - the Bank - supports two diagonal lightweight roofs forming a tent over the piazza and shopping areas. A low office building defines the edge of the site and closes off the covered piazza from the busy Via di Novoli. Opposite the gateway, across the road, there is a 16th-century church standing on a new piazza. This creates the major southern link to the neighbourhood.

Servicing access is from the two sides, east and west, with car parking and plant over the two basement levels. To allow for phased construction, the hotel is detached from the main building and overlooks the parkland in three directions. A lightweight glazed steel structure with sun shading covers the shopping area, creating an expansive public area for food courts and exhibitions and forms an atrium space for the lower levels of the bank.

Location Florence, Italy
Type Masterplanning
Dates 1987
Client Fiat
The Architect Richard Rogers Partnership
Laurie Abbott, Mike Davies, Marco Goldschmied, Amanda Levete, Richard Rogers
Landscape Architect Lawrence Halprin

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