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Project team:

1. Paolo Galantini (Team Leader)

2. Silvia Ancilotti

3. Marco Biondi

4. Omar Simonini

5. Matteo Vanni

6. Erika Ziaco

Location: Castelfiorentino, Florence

Referring to the definition that is usually attributed to the term square in urban planning, when one goes for the first time to a space defined as such, one would expect to be faced with a free space limited by buildings and equipped with a certain relevance from a community and social point of view. Following this type of logic, it can be said that in the case of Piazza Grandi in Castelfiorentino such conditions do not exist, but if anything we come across a traffic marshalling area with occasional free parking spaces, for the most part not organized in regulated spaces.

Located in the heart of the modern core of Castelfiorentino, the area of Piazza Grandi is currently devoid of social and community identity: although numerous services are concentrated around it, the space available is in fact totally occupied by a rather busy vehicular intersection that it conveys a sense of insecurity and bewilderment to those who find themselves looking out onto one of the surrounding streets.

It is in this point of the town that the most important roads lead to the city center from the nearby ring roads, making the so-called square transformed in all respects into a road intersection, lacking any type of accessibility and usability from the pedestrian point of view.

To hypothesize an intervention strategy that can be contextualized within a consolidated reality, it is advisable to try to understand the opinions of citizens and users and their needs; to achieve this purpose, a questionnaire was distributed with questions relating to the current perception of the place of interest and focused on the evaluation of the services present. From the results collected, numerous problems emerged for which the inhabitants deem it necessary to intervene under various aspects to bring to new life a neglected and almost invisible space from a social and community point of view.


Following the elaboration of the results of the questionnaire, a SWOT analysis was carried out in order to adopt an adequate intervention strategy: the strengths and weaknesses of the place were then identified, the opportunities to be strengthened and the threats to be avoided in design phase. This procedure made it possible to outline the guiding principles, summarized in the points below, to be pursued in order to obtain the most ideal result possible:

  • give its own identity to the area of intervention, currently communicating neglect and loss;

  • enhance the interesting optical cones present;

  • provide for pedestrian parking areas with the installation of adequate street furniture and lighting fixtures;

  • increase green spaces with provision of plantings of an adequate number and type;

  • redesign the road intersection in a functional and context-friendly way;

  • guarantee maximum safety for both pedestrians and motorists;

  • carry out the intervention with a view to facilitating access to the services present within the area;

  • break down any type of architectural barrier currently present;

  • increase the number of parking spaces in order to encourage parking in the area;

  • use materials that guarantee technical and aesthetic quality and sustainable costs.

The main objective is therefore directed towards the revenue of an area free and protected from vehicular movement, trying to preserve the pre-existing circulation system as much as possible and to improve the main critical issues of today.


In order to obtain what was set, various solution options were evaluated that put the main issues highlighted by the questionnaire in the foreground.

Given today's complicated situation from the point of view of viability, although these could entail greater possibilities for action as regards the design of the free area that can be obtained, no alternatives were considered that would suppress the road routes that are practicable today or change the directions of travel.

It was initially hypothesized to create an intermediate lane with two directions of travel that would make it possible to obtain an uncluttered area to be allocated to the establishment of the real square: with this method of intervention it was possible to maintain every possibility of turning but at the same time the he pedestrian area was fragmented and not completely independent of the vehicular traffic.

It was also considered to insert a greater number of stalls and thus increase the parking area usable by users, a solution that could prove to be cheaper but which prevented the use of the space available to create a real place for social gathering.

Given the conclusions drawn from the aforementioned hypotheses, we opted for the development of a different design idea that seeks to solve the current problems by combining the creation of a space suitable for pedestrians with the total maintenance of the possibility of driveway, thus avoiding the risk of create difficulties and confusions related to the establishment of a new road system.


The viability

As already mentioned, the project focused on the search for the creation of a real square as a moment of life in the city and social aggregation, where citizens can meet, sit, rest, stay in the shade of the trees and enjoy the games of water from the infinity fountain which during the summer can become a play area for children and cooling the entire area.

As far as traffic is concerned, the flows of via Profeti, via Sant'Antonio, viale Buozzi and vicolo delle Monache are confirmed by merging into a new stretch to the north characterized by the presence of two mini-roundabouts and a short double-lane straight.

This intervention provides for the establishment of an area surrounding the square which forcibly induces a substantial reduction in the speed of vehicular traffic.

The adoption of the Traffic calming leads to obtaining significant advantages, for example:

  • speed reduction of motor vehicles;

  • reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants;

  • reduction in the rate of road accidents and mortality;

  • increase in pedestrian and cycle space;

  • creating a safe public space for all;

  • increase in the economic value of buildings and businesses;

  • increase in the safety of pedestrian crossings;

  • traffic volume reduction;

  • increased sense of community;

  • incentive for the population to walk and cycle;

  • increased quality of life.

Access to this area is characterized by the presence of a slight step which unequivocally signals the entrance to a protected area.

The flooring, made of self-locking blocks of quartz-porphyry with a pink color, differs from the asphalt both for the chromatism and for the noise caused when passing over the surface, encouraging the driver of the vehicle to pay more attention to driving and to slow down.

This new system is optimal as it allows to simplify the current vehicular situation while allowing all the travel and turning possibilities and to obtain a central free area to be converted into a real public square.

Urban furniture

The pedestrian area will not be accessible to vehicular traffic: in fact, parallelepiped stone bollards will be installed along the perimeter that will prevent motorized vehicles from entering and will allow sitting.

The flooring will be formed by a succession of square modules made with applications in bush-hammered pietra serena and marked by vertical and horizontal strips of travertine marble.

Benches in pietra serena, organized in linear and geometric elements that integrate perfectly with the underlying design, will allow the new pedestrian space to be not only a place for strolling but also for resting, meeting, social exchange where you can meet freely and safely .

In place of five of the quadrangular elements that characterize the square, a satin fountain will be placed with five water jets of different heights and colors deriving from the presence of synchronized side LED lamps. This pool, in addition to being an element of cooling and scenography, in the summer can also become a play area for children. The spaces relating to the machinery necessary for the operation of the plant will be buried adjacent to it.

The lighting

The square will be equipped with poles consisting of cylindrical elements about 5 meters high equipped with double lighting bodies and equipped with charging systems for portable and surveillance devices.

Below the benches will be installed LED strips that will make the seating elements functional also from the plant engineering point of view.

Along the driveway it is planned to use new street lamps similar to those already provided by the Municipal Administration in the neighboring areas.


The parking lots

As regards the availability of parking, it was decided to intervene above all on the existing areas, avoiding excessively sacrificing the new free surface obtained with a view to substantially increase the vehicular parking to the detriment of the pedestrian area.

Eight new stalls have been planned along via Sant'Antonio, one of which for the handicapped and one used for loading and unloading goods, replacing those currently existing in the area hypothetically occupied by the new square.

With the aim of optimizing space, the redesign of the car parks along vicolo delle Monache and in the open space accessible from viale Buozzi was also proposed, with the consequent introduction of an additional stopping place for people with disabilities.

In particular, the parking spaces located along vicolo delle Monache were organized in two rows with an inclination of 60°, assuming that the trees currently present along the sidewalk to the east would be explanted in order to obtain more space and thus allow for easy maneuvering of vehicles; the uprooted plants can later be re-planted in the areas surrounding the intervention area.

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