Right in the centre of town, steps away from the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza di Spagna, Rinascente created its second flagship store. The building, located in Via del Tritone on the corner of Via dei Due Macelli, has been carefully restructured over the course of 11 years, which included an archaeological site being brought to light during the construction work.
It was Vincent Van Duysen Architects who took the role of leading concept designer for key public areas in the new building, such as the overview of the exterior façade renovation, the general layout strategy at ground-floor and first-floor levels, multi-brand retail areas and the interior design for the main feature within the project: the monumental atrium, a central court that brings light and splendour to every floor.
Rome’s new La Rinascente department store provides a magnificent example of how the past and present engage in dialogue and together create a new retail experience; a building that perfectly balances ancient and modern. The façade design highlights the repetition of architectural elements to create a sense of harmonious unity that defines the concept of a contemporary and sober expression.
Besides taking into consideration the particularities of the site and the ornamental expression of the existing palazzi, the design is truly inspired by the scale, proportion and hierarchy of Italian architecture, from the classic references such as Bramante’s cloister in Rome, to the Italian modernist architecture from the 1920s and 1930s.
For the atrium design, it was important to create a public atmosphere, while still framing the different spaces of all the different retail departments in a sober and theatrical way. The hierarchy and rhythm of different architectural elements define a structural and tectonic grid; the contrast between warm travertine stone and dark bronze panelling enhances the tactility and depth of the composition, creating playful frames of action and experience at every step. At the same time, the urban structure of Italian cities, with multiple squares and public spaces, was a strong source of inspiration while defining the retail floor layouts.
The design of all retail fixtures followed the principles of the architecture, with refined details and craftsmanship completing the design. Through a careful selection of materials and a strong architectural design approach, the project truly respects Rome’s unique heritage yet brings a new identity and soul to La Rinascente department store.
Describe your design philosophy:
‘Design’ is a continuous process – my mind is always working, imagining, connecting. I like to take into account a narrative when designing and I enjoy being a ‘storyteller’ – because it’s not always about pragmatics – it’s about soul. With respect to tradition and familiarity, and besides the utilitarian, my designs have to have something unexpected and create an emotional connection.
I would define my style using pure and tactile materials that result in a clear and timeless design. I try to be as consequent and persistent as possible towards the story I want to bring for the specific client - my approach covers all aspects of design, respecting the context and its traditions within the senses and physical experience of the space, materials, and light placing the user central. Functionality, durability, and comfort are the prime components of my work. My architectural language is not shy of aesthetics but resists fashion and trends.
A statement on the project:
What did the challenge consist of?
Besides taking in consideration the particularities of the site or the ornamental expression of the existing Palazzos, the design is truly inspired by the scale, proportion and hierarchy of Italian architecture. From the classic references such as Bramante’s Cloister in Rome, to the Italian modernist architecture from 20’s & 30’s. For the central court design, it was important to create a public atmosphere, still framing the different spaces of all different retail departments in a sober and theatrical way. The hierarchy and rhythm of different architecture elements define a structural and tectonic grid; the contrast between warm travertine stone and dark bronze panelling enhances the tactility and depth of the composition, creating playful frames of action and experiences at every walkway. At the same time, the urban structure of the Italian cities, with multiple squares and public spaces, was a strong source of inspiration while defining the retail floor layouts.
It was important to create a public atmosphere, framing the different spaces of all the different sales departments in a sober and theatrical way. At the same time, be able to define the internal layouts of each retail plan using as inspiration the structure of Italian cities with multiple squares and public spaces. This is a project that respects the Italian tradition by creating a new retail experience in a contemporary way.
Were there any positive or negative surprises while realising the design?
My collaboration with La Rinascente dates back to the beginning of my career, so there is mutual understanding and perfect collaboration. The project took several years to run but there were no major difficulties. Naturally, the project has been frozen for some time due to archaeological discoveries during the foundation works, but this is a question that the local teams and the client have managed perfectly.
Builder-owner's wish/goal. What should the project be capable of doing?
This is a project that respects the Italian tradition by creating a new sales experience in a contemporary way. We worked closely with the local teams and the Italian wealth authorities to define a project that would meet the heritage requirements. At the same time, thanks to a careful selection of materials, colors and particular elements, the design respects the existing qualities of the historical facades, nevertheless bringing a new identity and soul to the complete construction.