Piazza del Mercato and restoration of the Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo

Firenze, 2002-2009 (Breschistudio Associati)

Alberto Breschi, Flaviano Maria Lorusso, Serafina Amoroso, Nicola Becagli, Tommaso Chiti, Giacomo Benvenuti, Claudia Giannoni, Attilio Guerreschi




The Market in San Lorenzo is the central element of a vast and typical chess-board-like 19th century settlement. The complex, designed by Giuseppe Mengoni in 1869, establishes a vigorous dialogue with the urban context, through the treatment of the shell which is inspired on the ashlar-work of Florentine buildings during the Renaissance, seeking a material, chromatic, formal and especially ideological connection with the place. Toward the end of the Sixties of the past century the market was subjected to a static form of restoration, with the reinforcement of the existing structures, while in the Eighties a storey was added with the purpose of increasing the selling space. As a result of the intervention proposals, the external market square became the covering of the underground plaza, destined for the usual function of loading and unloading of merchandise and for services. The square, largely pedestrian and completely re-done in terms of installations, finishings and decoration, enhances its role as a collective and protected space, as well as of a seasonal external extension of the many commercial activities that face the outside of the structure. The new flooring in pietra serena follows a simple and deductively composed design, based on the perceptive representation of the two differentiated fields which correspond to the underground storage area and to the remaining space, so as to make understandable the presence of commercial activities underground. The interior re-structuring intervention is aimed to the general re-qualification of the mezzanine of the Mercato Centrale, through operations envisaged for increasing the levels of efficiency and functionality, but also to valorise the entire structure, eliminating obsolete and superfluous elements, and combining the traditional function as a fruit and vegetable market with other more widely related to the neighbourhood and the community. The central space next to the escalators is increased and distributed around the shops, redesigned with innovative elements, with two additional ingot-shaped structures in opalescent and transparent glass, destined to house some new, more contemporary typologies of shops, such as a bookshop, a net-café, exhibition and communication spaces, and restaurants. The re-structuring project results in a new layout which involves a different distribution of the shops, which will be less in number and distributed in accordance with a more fluid and orderly design.