NUBE, SHOPPING MALL AND RESTAURANTS
Mestre, Venice, Italy 2001, with Paolo Setti
The site is in an industrial area, under development at the time of the project, that the client had deliberately chosen for the purpose of creating a new satellite centre for the suburbs of the provincial town of Mestre.
The brief called for a proposal that was capable of mixing retail space, catering space, and entertainment space, modelled on Anglo-American malls, and targeted primarily to a young audience that could utilize the space at various times of the same day for different purposes. The exterior of the building is of pre-cast smooth concrete panels, slender in shape, defining an intentionally utilitarian shell: on entering this ordinary enclosure however, one is led to a space that creates a special and unusual experience, augmented by the contradictory relationship between exterior and interior.
At the rear of the prefabricated concrete shell, a mezzanine level is inserted to accommodate two restaurants: an informal noodle bar on one side has a curved ceiling - the continuation of the external wall at the level below - and a lava stone floor with inlaid steel patterns; the fine dining room, on the opposite side, is arranged around a stone water feature and has sliding and folding partitions to create enclosures of different sizes for private functions.
The multifunctional area, nearest to the glazed corner of the building, is designed in an allusion to natural formations such as stalagmites and stalactites: plaster tapered mounds and structures rise from the floor or hang from the ceiling, randomly arranged, in order to define gathering areas with contrasting degrees of intimacy. Layers of hanging sheer curtains on mechanized rails further amplify the feeling of enclosures and provide a ‚cloudy‘ atmosphere from sunset onwards.