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THE MANIFATTURA: WORKING TOWARDS A NEW URBAN 
RENAISSANCE

RENEWING AND RESTORING THE CITY’S HERITAGE

A new form of city is awakening at the ex-industrial complex of the Manifattura Tabacchi, active for 70 years before closing in 2001. The walled citadel will be transformed into a new urban centre, a place of exchange integrated into the neighbourhood and the wider city. The inclusive spaces will open up to accommodate a new civic centre, thanks to an unprecedented urban vision that removes disciplinary boundaries and interacts with architecture, the environment, art and culture.

To this end, Concrete Architectural Associates created a masterplan founded on sustainability and interaction, one that is no longer based solely on construction indices and percentages but on an analysis of the city, society and its generational changes.

Bringing life back to an area of 100,000 square metres with 16 buildings in a strategic neighbourhood required an innovative plan which married respect for the heritage of the site with the most up-to-date approaches to redevelopment.

THE PLAN

First Life, then Spaces, then Buildings

Jan Gehl

Interaction, sociability, sustainability, growth; these are the key words behind Concrete’s masterplan. The aim is to create an open and connected citadel where the latest technological advances add value to the memory and identity of the site. A new square, open 24/7, will reinterpret the historic square and transform it into an innovative platform of exchange. It will be the first Florentine square of the New Millennium, where co-working spaces meet workshops for a new generation of artists, artisans, and producers.

sketches by Concrete Architectural Associates

Piazza Centrale

The Piazza Centrale will be open all year round thanks to a transparent roof which will create its own micro-climate. It will be a safe and inclusive space that will house a large market with shops and artisan workshops, as well as restaurants and meeting points.

Piazza Centrale workspaces

The buildings on each side of the Piazza Centrale will house professional offices, studios, and co-working spaces on the upper floors.

Makers Street

Workshops and ateliers will breathe life into this street of creative industries. Artists and designers will be able to share this fully-equipped space and enrich it with meaning and activity: a meeting place, but also an area to exhibit works of art.

Theatre Garden

At the back of the Teatro Puccini, where the recreational life of the Manifattura once took place, a new permanent cultural island will come to life. A mobile structure will open up the Theatre to the new garden area, allowing people to see shows both inside and outside.

The Boulevard

A new tree-lined boulevard for pedestrians and bicycles will cross the new Manifattura Tabacchi along its north-south axis. This boulevard will connect the neighbourhood of Novoli with the Parco delle Cascine.

La Piazza dell’Orologio

A spectacular public area that demonstrates the best of rationalist architecture’s use of space, which is ideally set up to host large-scale events. The prestigious Polimoda Institute will open its third Florentine site in the iconic Clock building.

Residential Garden

This elongated building, with its enticing views of the Parco delle Cascine, is one of the best representations of rationalist architecture in Florence. It will house new residential buildings which will look out over green spaces, and will also be a site of community services.

Birrificio

Designed as a place for both production and sampling, the craft brewery is housed in the former thermal plant of the Manifattura Tabacchi, with a stop on the future tramline right outside.

Hotel Courtyard

The former tobacco warehouses are to be converted into a lifestyle hotel, where the post-industrial memory will live on through its evocative interior design. To the back of the hotel, an intimate and welcoming garden terrace will create an ideal space either for outdoor dining or simply relaxing on the wide steps.

Students Courtyard

A wing of the hotel, and the new site of The Student Hotel, will overlook the lowered courtyard, which will be excavated to expose the evocative underground structures that bear witness to the history of the site.

URBAN INTEGRATION AND SOCIAL AGGREGATION

Urban living and sociability will dovetail thanks to a strategic network of mobility connections and cultural activities that will bring life back to abandoned sites. As an alternative to the historic centre, a new civic centre will be born, benefitting from its vicinity to the Parco delle Cascine, the Polo Universitario di Novoli, and the airport. A new centre where the language and the mission of Florentine humanism is renewed.

SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY

Mobility in the area has been designed to return the Manifattura Tabacchi to the life of the neighbourhood and of Florence. Inside the site, the Plan analysed the so-called ‘dead spaces’ between the buildings and used it to create a distribution system that connects the blocks through public, social spaces, where the Community contributes to creating a new identity for these spaces.

The Plan provides for the creation of six pedestrian and cycle access points, in addition to the monumental main entrance, as well as dedicated automotive vehicle entrances.

THE FUNCTIONAL MIX

Crafting the future…

As in the historic city, the new Manifattura will integrate different types of activities in a functional mix that will increase the economic development and the quality of life in the area. It will house commercial spaces, workshops and ateliers open to the creative industries, traditional and co-working office spaces, partnerships with educational institutions, catering, hospitality, and residences, but also services, outdoor markets and underground car parks. It is a regeneration project that respects the existing structures, and works within the context of sustainable development, making it durable, flexible and with a low energy impact.

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The buildings

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Building 2

Building 2 was constructed together with Building 3 on the first construction lot. Both buildings were used for storing raw tobacco, as well as drying and packaging. They overlook an internal courtyard with the two buildings connected by a perpendicular cross-section, with a sober monumentality typical of 1930s architecture. The elevations highlight a set of pilasters and stringcourses that frame the larger windows on the second floor and smaller windows on the two lower floors.

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