Interview with the architect Marialuisa Cipriani

The interview on the redevelopment project of the new Nobel Prize Square in Pinarella di Cervia
Interview with the architect Marialuisa Cipriani

1- Dear architect Cipriani, could you tell us about the project you created for Piazza Premi Nobel in Pinarella? How did you develop the concept, which highlights timeless personalities who have received this important honor?

In truth, the project concept was born first, and foremost as a corrective to notable critical issues found in the area of intervention. Only secondly does it define the dedication to the Nobel Prize winners as a connotative element for the square. In its pre-intervention layout, the square was a large open space created at the same time as a subdivision in the 1980s, which, as a whole, showed the obsolescence of a dated construction and presented spatial dystonia that made it unwelcoming and distracting. The project took the reading of the context and the critical issues identified as a starting point to define the compositional principles capable of giving rise to improving solutions. The proposed solutions were aimed at providing timely responses as corrective measures. In particular, the project worked on four points:

  • Spatial proportions: The relationship between the vertical dimension of the wings of the buildings that defined the frame of the square, and the horizontal surface of the pavement in its structure prior to the intervention, was unbalanced in favor of the horizontal dimension. This resulted in spatial disharmony, which created a feeling of alienation and made the space disharmonious and not on a human scale. It was a huge paved surface with fragile boundaries, not enough to delimit its edges. The disproportion found in the actual state was compensated by providing for an increase in the presence of trees within the square. In addition to the perimeter rows, were distributed trees in numerous large flowerbeds to fragment the area of the square, determining compartmentalization of the space and defining vegetal horizons with which to resize the visual limits and divide the area into human-scale parts.
  • Accessibility: The differences in height between the level of the sidewalks arranged on the edge of the square, and the level of the paving that made up the square were resolved with jumps and steps that created architectural barriers and made some areas unusable for physically disabled people. The differences in height between the limits of the square and its interior in the actual state were absorbed into the project with the construction of inclined planes with a slope between 5 and 8% to make the surfaces continuous and accessible to every category of user.
  • Environmental sustainability criteria: The large surface of the square was covered with paving that made it waterproof, there were no shaded areas and there was no system for collecting and recycling rainwater. The project eliminated the impermeability of the soil, increasing the vegetated surfaces and using permeable paving. The planting of a large number of trees has ensured the elimination of the heat island and an improvement in the microclimate. Rain gardens and a high percentage of vegetated surfaces have also been set up for the recovery of rainwater.
  • Lack of identity: The space of the square had no elements that characterized it and made it recognizable. The project dedicates itself to the 21 Nobel Prizes that Italy has offered to humanity, extraordinary names that not everyone knows, but which are now imprinted on the pavements and which can be found while walking among the flowerbeds and trees of the new square.


2- The keyword of the project is sustainability. Explain to us which interventions and expedients you included in the project so that the final effect was truly respectful of the environment and brought benefits to both people and nature.

The Cervia administration approved the new general urban plan in 2018 which, starting from the concept of “Cervia – Resilient City“, confirms the vocation to increase urban quality and reiterates the reduction of land consumption among its guiding principles. It deals extensively with the theme of greenery through the valorization of the peculiarity of “City – Garden“, the reconnection and integration of the ecological network, and the strengthening of ecological facilities. The project takes these general principles and translates them into concrete achievements. The almost 4000 m2 of the square are divided into 3200 m2 of surface paved with draining concrete, of which 680 are designed to accommodate temporary events; 1620 flower beds; 36 new trees; 250 m2 of rain gardens; 9 steps in composite wood; 1 fountain with water features.


3- Providing a floor fountain with a draining concrete floor around it, was a nice design proposal, because it was able to combine business with pleasure, i.e. the recovery of water with full usability of the spaces and aesthetics of the fountain. What were the elements that pushed you to choose a floor fountain to crown this project?

The floor fountain seemed like a good solution from several points of view. Firstly because it is able to create a space for interaction with users: it involves adults and children. Everywhere I have seen floor fountains in operation I have seen them crowded with people bathing and children playing. A floor fountain is ever-changing, offers ever-changing scenarios, adapts to the change between day and night, and surprises and refreshes the environment around it. This seemed to me to be absolutely the best possible choice for the type of place that was taking shape with the drafting of the project.


4- In conclusion, a question about the future: in your opinion, what strategies should designers and companies implement to raise the quality of public spaces, so that they are adapted and adaptable to climate change?

Due to my culture and work experience, I am wary of solutions chosen on the table due to necessity or inclinations dictated by the moment and applied in a widespread manner and without discrimination. I am not sure that the general application of adaptability measures to climate change can guarantee the identity and uniqueness of public spaces as a consequence. As a designer, I believe that the best result to offer is unique spaces in which users can recognize themselves. As a landscape designer, I believe that this can happen by practicing respect for places. I believe that the practice of careful reading and listening to the demands of the context is absolutely the best strategy for creating quality places that have a soul and that know how to create harmony between natural elements and human needs.  Each project must be approached as a unicum, a dedication to the specific, a new start, research: reading the context, understanding its qualities to increase its value, identifying the detractors to eliminate them, keeping a broad and attentive gaze on what is of man but also other living beings. This type of design approach, in my opinion, is capable of creating harmonious places, which break down the gap between man and nature and which therefore have the natural consequence of being adaptable to climate change.

Susanna Dei Rossi

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