Piazza Arnolfo di Cambio

  • Colle di Val d'Elsa, Italy
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Amongst the projects we have worked on with our friends at Colle Val d’Elsa, the Arnolfo di Cambio square is particularly important. Its location, its shape, its atmosphere – both classical and slightly reminiscent of De Chirico’s works – the views it provides over the Tuscan countryside and the spur of the citadel to the west, people’s attachment to it: all these factors contribute to making this a rather delicate subject.


It was not a question of architecture in the strict sense of the word, even less of construction per se, it was more a case of singling out the components of the square that would benefit from slight, even minute interventions in terms of rekindling its curiosity value, emphasising its identity and highlighting its intrinsic qualities.


With this in mind, we came up with the idea of inviting a handful of artists, whom we knew were sensitive to things “urban”, and entrusting each of them with a clearly defined remit. No “exquisite corpse” here, on the contrary, it was about being fully aware of what the others would do so as to achieve a coherent vision through a delicate process of empiricism. Lewis Baltz’ deliberately minute intervention along Via Mazzini – after dreaming of a less ordinary front for the building closing up the square –, Bertrand Lavier’s colourful canopies punctuating the arches, the arcades beneath the arches and the crystal shutters imagined by the magician Alessandra Tesi, and Buren’s intervention making the square unique, a showcase for the war memorial, which had never before attracted so much attention. We are delighted by all this, and believe that the square is destined for a rejuvenated, bright and cheerful future.



Jean Nouvel