Layout of the piazzas of Sant'Agostino

 

The earthquake that hit Emilia Romagna in 2012 dealt a serious blow to Sant’Agostino. Alongside the substantial damage done to its architectural heritage, Sant’Agostino also suffered a symbolic loss, as the earthquake damaged the town hall that divided the town square into two. The damages necessitated a rethinking of the spatial and social organisation of the area on the part of the community and the municipal authorities. Following the inevitable demolition of the building, this need led to the redefinition of the city’s squares. After winning a contest in 2017, Sinergo was tasked with producing the final and working plan as well as with the management of works for this redevelopment project. The suggestion developed by the authorities in the preliminary plan and adopted by Sinergo in the final working stage entailed the extension of Corso Roma as a principal connection axis for light transportation systems. The geometries that define the piazza were informed by this choice. The extension of the road’s incline creates a diagonal line that runs at a right angle to the complex of the parochial church, breaking with the rectangular geometry of the buildings. The general design uses the diagonal promenade to rearrange the spaces defined by the buildings’ façades, simultaneously introducing an articulation and a differentiated use of the project’s focal spaces. The ideas of community and protected space are expressed here by a line of tall trees that traces the perimeter of the large trapezoidal shape created by the diagonal axis. These trees also function as a buffer between the public space and the buildings. The pavement extends like a large carpet, designed to evoke the sensation of a “communal lounge”. The decision to emphasise the central space as an urban lounge for the town’s population is strengthened by the juxtaposition of an area filled with plants, creating a ‘green space’. This section of the piazza was designed to evoke an urban woodland, characterised by various tree species. Here, tall trees alternate with smaller shrubs. The idea behind this decision was that of creating an area that is distinct from the large empty space at the centre – an intimate and cosy area, where people can pause to read the newspaper, eat an ice-cream or chat. The variety of tree species used here creates an environment of varying dimensions. The creation of ‘islands’, where benches and lights have been freely placed, encourages people to linger here. The covered square – A memory of the demolished town hall has been kept alive by the construction of a pavilion with a floor area of 430m². The large roof covering replicates the dimensions of the historic building, transforming the painful memory of the earthquake into a place of physical and symbolic shelter.