Project for the redevelopment of Piazza dell’Isolotto in Florence

Arscape: Annunziata De Comite, Rachele Bonadio


Piazza dell’Isolotto is almost a bump in the road for those who look out over the Arno from Cascine via the homonymous footbridge, or for an absent-minded pedestrian who, on the other hand, strolls through the neighbourhood and comes across the disorderly overlap of accidents and improper uses that feature it. It has a certain centripetal force for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood due to the role for which it was conceived and sized, yet each successive bite into its free use and perception has progressively denied its identity as a social and vital node. The centre of the islet now belongs not to people but cars and prefabricated concrete kerbs that transversally delimit the areas, senselessly denying its natural vocation to be a “passage” to and from the neighbourhood but, above all, to the Cascine and that part of the city.

A “passage” is not just a patch between two parts of the city, or a bridge over oversized infrastructures, or even a ford between different scenarios on the border of two states facing each other: a passage, as in this case, is often a confluence, a collection point before being a reference to elsewhere.

With this in mind and with this vision, we have retraced these spaces several times, trying to understand how they could finally reveal their peculiar attitude of being a meander in which to slow down the pace and stop, as well as to accelerate people towards the promise of a horizon of free travel.

In a square whose distinguishing features were the overbearing presence of the car park and the blatant introversion of the market system that turns its back on the commercial arcades, the necessary starting point was to finally connect this space by clarifying its dominant character through two actions: pedestrianisation and relocation of the existing car park.

The result is “the island that wasn’t there”, where the car park square is transformed into a people’s square.

The confinement of the cars, on the opposite side of the residential buildings, improves the view of the houses on the ground floor, but above all frees up a large collective space that winds naturally from the church to the Cascine without any further interruptions.

The daily market has been stretched out in front of the arcade so that both commercial categories (permanent and temporary) can finally begin to work in harmony, while people, crossing the square, can notice the existence of both.

The food market has been rehoused under a new canopy as a hinge between the square and Via dei Ligustri, while the system of general merchandise stalls was also granted architectural dignity.

In order not to perpetuate the current situation in which its formal identity corresponds only to a continuous curtain of a series of vans of various kinds, a permeable Corten steel screen has been built, along which to park cars so that the side facing the porticoes is the side that evokes life and exchange, while the other side can have its own elegance, rhythm, seats inserted in the modular scanning, litter bins for waste collection and thus become a functional and formal element of the recomposed public space just like the new canopy.

The structure of the space becomes more fluid along the longitudinal axis and episodically connects new social islands that punctuate and define its functions, moments during the day and perspectives. The islands cut out of the continuous texture of the new flooring (concrete with surface stripes or stamped) introduce the third theme of the project, related to environmental sustainability and materials recovery.

It was decided to dismantle the existing degraded though aesthetically pleasing stone floor in order to obtain gravel on site for reuse in the sun and in the phyto-purification strips for the first rainwater.

The entire space is settled by cancelling the height differences between the portico and the street, allowing only the slight chromatic variations between the materials and their progressively granular consistency to define the areas.

The relationship between various types of users and the safe use of the space guaranteed by the absence of vehicular intrusion or morphological stumbling blocks are encouraged and distributed throughout the day, without favouring specific age groups and, at the same time, without encouraging introverted use compared to the rest of the neighbourhood.


Typology: Competition of ideas for the redevelopment of Piazza dell’Isolotto

Place: Florence, 2015


Municipality of Florence


Design, Landscape