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A Changing Cityscape

 

Piazza Leopolda’s Park of Music and Culture, Le Cascine and Oltrarno

 

The recent opening of the new Opera House at Piazza Leopolda is helping the city attract visitors and live up to its reputation as the birthplace of opera. The project cost the city €5 million and faced many funding delays.

 

Located near Porta al Prato and Florence’s largest and most popular park, Parco delle Cascine, Stazione Leopolda is now a new urban center devoted to cultural and musical activities.

 

The concept was shaped by a public perception of openness on an urban scale. Leopolda both adds to the city’s public spaces with one of the largest piazzas in the region and acts as a bridge between the Cascine’s scenic landscape and the stone-lined city streets.

 

The project’s outdoor area is still evolving. It includes plans for a live performance space, wine bar and an aquarium that will also acts as a light source. This area is also meant to be a hub for athletes, who might go for a run, change, then dash off to work. Bike and segwey rentals are also available.

 

Recent renovations to the Cascine include illumination installed along the main routes stretching to Indiano Bridge (Ponte all’Indiano). New and wide bike paths in white gravel connect the Cascine all the way to Renai park in Lastra a Signa (approximately 11 kilometers).

 

The construction of Stazione Leopolda in 1948 completed the Leopolda railway route that connected the Port of Livorno and Florence, but the opening of a much larger and more central station in 1860 – Santa Maria Novella – created a new link along this route, eventually diverting all regional and national traffic and leading to its closure.

 

The structure, however, was recognized as an ideal space for cultural events and has undergone many programmatic changes over the years (currently operated by fashion promoter Pitti Immagine).

 

The project was part of a 2008 international competition that was awarded to Roman architects ABDR Associates whose design represented a link between the Cascine’s natural landscape and the stones of the city center, between history and the future. The site is now a new urban center devoted to cultural and musical activities.

 

The concept was shaped by a public perception of openness on an urban scale. Leopolda both adds to the city’s public spaces with one of the largest piazzas in the region and acts as a bridge between the Cascine’s scenic landscape and the stone-lined city streets.

 

A pedestrian thoroughfare is adorned by a fluid arrangement of outdoor spaces, including a voluminous main hall with terraced, roof-top seating for an open-air ‘cavea’ amphitheater with panoramic views of the entire city of Florence.

 

A staggering pattern of grey tiles on the fly tower provide an alternating visual awareness as you move around a site formulated of massive stone including two large music halls, rehearsal rooms, administrative offices and accommodations for workshops and other performances.

 

A new family-friendly park called Fosso Bandito has replaced the Central Park disco, which was located alongside Leopolda’s Cascine-facing side. The park opened this summer as part of the city’s initiative to relaunch the Cascine.

 

The project’s outdoor area is still evolving. It includes plans for a live performance space, wine bar and an aquariam that will also acts as a light source. This area is also meant to be a hub for athletes, who might go for a run, change, then dash off to work. Bike and segwey rentals are also available.

 

Recent renovations to the Cascine include illumination installed along the main routes stretching to Indiano Bridge (Ponte all’Indiano). New and wide bike paths in white gravel connect the Cascine all the way to Renai park in Lastra a Signa (approximately 11 kilometers).

 

The disco’s structure was kept in tact for the restaurant — a circular track and skylight. Side niches have been transformed into round tables that seat 8-10 people. The bar is open from 9am for breakfast and remains open all day. The furnishings are modern and eclectic, with comfortable lounging chairs where people are encouraged to relax and read the paper or surf the web via free wifi without pressure to consume.

 

More tables are located on a roof deck overlooking a children’s area with slides, climbing walls and playground sets, letting parents relax while keeping an eye on their children. The restaurant, too, offers open views of the park area.

 

The project’s outdoor area is still evolving. It includes plans for a live performance space, wine bar and an aquariam that will also acts as a light source. This area is also meant to be a hub for athletes, who might go for a run, change, then dash off to work. Bike and segwey rentals are also available.

 

Recent renovations to the Cascine include illumination installed along the main routes stretching to Indiano Bridge (Ponte all’Indiano). New and wide bike paths in white gravel connect the Cascine all the way to Renai park in Lastra a Signa (approximately 11 kilometers). It’s a beautiful and relaxing ride through a natural landscape.

 

The Cascine offers a variety of activities including swimming, bike and rollerblade rentals, a restaurant and refreshment stands, exercise equipment and games for kids. It also hosts a variety of activities including a huge market each Tuesday and various cultural events.

 

The city’s only public light rail line, the Tramvia, stops at both the Cascine park and Parco della Muscia.

 

Citizens are also taking an active part in the city’s beautification initiatives. Residents of Isolotto, which runs alongside the Cascine to the south, are designing a new piazza. Citizens of the Oltrarno area have been involved in a new initiative to make Piazza del Carmine pedestrian-only, which means relocating the 200 parking spaces located there currently.

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