by STIRworldApr 02, 2021
In close collaboration with the design teams at Apple, British firm Foster + Partners has revitalised the historic Palazzo Marignoli in Rome into Apple Via del Corso – the 17th store of the company to have opened in Italy and one of its most significant restoration projects till date. Located in Via del Corso - one of Rome’s most vibrant streets - the project brings to life the 1873-built home of artist Filippo Marignoli, designed by Italian architect Salvatore Bianchi.
Revealing the building’s multi-layered history through a new lens, new interventions have been done to the façade, interiors, courtyard, and artistic remnants that were hidden for decades. “The joy of the project was to peel back and rediscover the layers of history throughout the building and revealing its eclectic past, which ranges from the historic painted ceilings and the frescoes by Fabio Cipolla, both from the 1890s, to the more recent graffiti artworks by Afro Basaldella,” says Stefan Behling, head of the studio.
Bianchi-built palazzo received a second addition in the 19th century in the form of a monumental facade conceived by Italian architect called Giulio Podesti. The building once housed the famous Caffè Aragno, and was frequented by writers, journalists, and political figures. A melting pot of creativity, the structure has been home to many notable artworks including two large ceiling paintings called the Dawn by Fabio Cipolla, and Dusk by Ettore Ballerini, and multiple graffiti panels depicting urban scenes from Italian cities created by the one of Italy’s most important artists, Afro Basaldella.
The entrance to the store is through a historic colonnaded passage that opens onto a green courtyard, offering respite from the busy shopping street. It creates a calm focus for the entire building, visible from almost every corner of the store. The Camphora trees with their soft canopies offer dappled shade, creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors, and leafy vistas up to the lush courtyard garden. The passage extending further into the store, which culminates into a monumental staircase, is decorated by arches and vaults while its walls and flooring are lined with Carrara stone – an intervention by the architects to match the existing marble surfaces.
Lighting interventions within the interiors have been kept minimal and these have been designed to accentuate the historic features of the building. “The original skylight which was built over during a previous refurbishment has been restored to flood the space with artificial light that matches the tone of natural daylight,” says the London-based Foster + Partners.
The monumental staircase, built originally by Marignoli to access his residence on the first floor, leads you to the piano nobile, meticulously restored with its original Carrara marble detailing. The original skylight - built over during a previous refurbishment - has been restored to flood the space with artificial light that matches the tone of natural daylight. The first floor houses the Apple Forum within the vaulted former ballroom. The Apple Forum is the focus for Today at Apple that features workshops and events.
The various rooms within the building are connected by a gallery space that opens up onto a terrace. Taking its inspiration from the ancient Roman roof terraces, the space is populated by fragrant jasmine vines and olive trees that look down onto the green courtyard below.
Sharing the idea of the project, the studio notes, “Apple Via del Corso is a celebration of the past and future and delicately articulates the different eras of history, creating a harmonious juxtaposition of old and new, and takes this building with so much history into its next phase of life".