Piazza dei Mille is located on the edge of the historic center of Mola di Bari at the contact point between the eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century historical areas. It belongs to a system of squares characterized by a strong interrelation with religious buildings and all connected through radials of the historical fabric to the pole of Piazza XX Settembre. Piazza dei Mille, which can be reached from Piazza XX Settembre along Via Bovio, unlike the others, doesn’t have a characterizing definition of the urban space which is limited and reduced to fragments.

Piazza dei Mille, urban and radial framing of the historical fabric connecting the central square of Mola di Bari (Piazza XX Settembre) and the main churches of the town

The lack of spaces at the service of specialized and commercial functions, unregulated parking lots and chaotic driveways represent the cracks in this system. Kintsugi, the Japanese art of rejoining the fragments of a broken object with gold, becomes the means of working on the “shards” of Piazza dei Mille to reconnect them in a clear urban space, which balances building fronts and specialist/commercial functions, defining new visual and aggregation systems.

Relief photo of the existing square-widening

SWOT analysis: framing of the criticalities and strengths of the area in question

Urban analysis: the problems of the area are compared with the useful interventions for re-evaluating the square

The design proposal starts with the strengthening of the front of Palazzo Tanzi, through the creation of a space servicing the school building, equipped with modular benches used by students. These are arranged on the pedestrian axis with a strong historical value, which follows the radial path that starts from Piazza XX Settembre. The pedestrianization of the project area takes place through the raising of the current paved square to the level of the existing sidewalks and with the closure to vehicular transit coming from via Bovio, which is channeled into via Settembrini. To reinforce the idea of visual and usable unity of space and slow down vehicular flows, the elevation of the new floor level is proposed in the stretches of via Mazzini, via P. Amedeo, via Oberdan and via Foggia, that affect the area.

Piazza dei Mille, project masterplan and new definition of existing public spaces

Project axonometric masterplan. Overall view of the solution devised

The arrangement of the area that extends from the front of the Church along the entire length of the square contributes to the characterization of the area: a large urban space framed by two rows of bitter orange trees (Citrus aurantium L.) and rotating benches, makes the space vibrant and dynamic. This large front that frames the church lends itself to accommodate different functions as befits an urban space, since its dimensions are such as to make it suitable both for organizing public and religious events, but also for hosting a local market, transforming Piazza dei Mille from space of mere passage as a reference point for the district and the city.

View on the central square and relationship with the Church of S. Maria della Purificazione

View of Palazzo Tanzi with the new garden and play area for recreational activities

The study of the plant elements involved the planting of bitter orange trees that recall the citrus fruits present in the private gardens of the eighteenth-century area and, in the parts of the flooring that divide the project’s areas, green escapes in which growth is expected of grass all year round, making the square look iridescent during the various seasons.

Usage scheme: square as a local market (pre-existing activity on Piazza dei Mille)

Usage scheme: square as an area for public, commercial and ecclesiastical events

The redevelopment of building curtains through the plant element also contributes to the definition of the urban space; the installation of steel cables on the curtains, allows the vertical development of essences such as jasmine (Jasminum officinale L.) or wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) as it happened in the “white zone” of Molese, where each housing unit was marked by a luxuriant creeper.

Vegetation scheme chosen for the square, the garden and the building curtains

Technical detail of the green grout flooring in the garden area and in the central square

Technical detail of the building curtains: redevelopment with typical climbing plants

The Church is also framed on the sides by two flowerbeds with plants typical of the Mediterranean scrub, that is wild olive tree (Olea europaea var. sylvestris) and mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), to recall the extra urban character that the building had when was built. The flowerbed that currently houses the statue of San Michele has been transformed into a usable green space, enhanced by permeable flooring with green joints, which under the shade of the lime trees (Tilia platyphillos) left in situ, hosts benches and tables to increase the possibility of sociality of the space itself.

Technical detail of the flooring and equipped wall of the play area for recreational activities

Technical detail of the rotating benches designed for the central square

Longitudinal section A-A'

The playground area is set between the side elevation of Palazzo Tanzi and the tree-lined garden, occupying the pre-existing road connecting via Oberdan and the center of the square. A terrain vague where one of the gold seams of Kintsugi unhinges the condition of residual space to create a place open to social aggregation and leisure. The playful space punctuated by bright colors overlaps the interstitial space, binding in a modern key with the historical context of Palazzo Tanzi; the playground develops on the horizontal plane of the flooring and on the vertical plane of the side elevation of the building, with an equipped wall juxtaposed to the other wall that plays with the building’s characters and the rhythm of its openings. The colorful pattern that runs over the entire surface is composed of inclined lines that reflect the directions of the streets that meet in Piazza dei Mille.

Longitudinal section B-B'

Longitudinal section C-C'

Longitudinal section D-D'

The logic of upgrading the existing car parks follows the design choices in the context of viability. The road loop of via Bovio and via Settembrini is enriched by a car park with twenty stalls for residential use in a portion of the private garden on via Settembrini. This intervention makes it possible to move the stalls that now hinder the square space within this adjacent area, making the space of Piazza dei Mille and its predisposition for pedestrian use more cohesive.

Project details

Design: Studio Plasti.co
Project Location: Piazza dei Mille, Mola di Bari, Italy
Typology: Public space, square
Year: 2020
Design team: Bepy Daniele, Roberto Farella, Denisio Ranieri, Maria Cristina Tagarelli
Award: First prize for the architectural ideas competition “Spazi nella città” for the redevelopment of Piazza dei Mille

Studio Plasti.co

Studio Plasti.co

Collective at the service of the urban fabric. “That molds, that has the ability to model, to give a shape”.