New system of Piazzas

PlaceGibellina Nuova (TP), between via Monte Finestrelle and via Ruggero Settimo

AuthorsFranco Purini, Laura Thermes

Chronology: 1987 | 1990

Itinerary: Architecture for the community

UsePublic spaces

The reconstruction proposals for the city of Gibellina Nuova, after the 1968 Belice earthquake, were based on the idea of giving the new city a renovated character by creating interventions with a high cultural identity. Purini-Thermes’ architectural design configures a large urban structure lying on the ground: a “system of public squares” put in a sequence.

The Piazzas take evocative names of the history of this part of Italy: Piazza Rivolta del 26 Giugno 1937, Piazza Fasci dei Lavoratori, Piazza Monti di Gibellina, Piazza Autonomia Siciliana, and Piazza Portella delle Ginestre. So far, only the first three squares were built, between 1987 and 1990. The classical portico-market extends along two of the three squares, linked, with the sole exception of the northern square, and bordered on one side by a lower portico. The pitch of the portico span corresponds to the modular two-colored granite paving to highlight this place’s geometric design using Mediterranean colors.

The plan design defines rectangular open spaces denoted by a metaphysical aura. The expressive register of the work is entrusted to color through the different materials used: Mazara tuff (yellow stone found locally), lava stone (black), Alcamo travertine (white stone) and red stone.

The long arcades, according to a statement by Laura Thermes, making the front permeable to the houses behind, also create a theatrical space. The double arcades allow walking even at an elevated level. From here, they overlook the piazza through a matroneum with rectangular windows, decorated with colored ceramic tiles.

The apparently simple geometry of the sequence of rectangular squares is actually made complex in the terminal points, where the main roads in the systems break the rule. Here, contrast between light and shadow determine combinations between volumes of great expressiveness.

Text Donatella Scatena
Photos by Archivio Purini, Emanuele Piccardo