The Aura Valle Aurelia, a new retail destination in the heart of Rome, not far from the Vatican City in Rome took place recently.

The architectural project, commissioned by CDS HOLDING S.p.A. and ORION, is led the award-winning Design International studio, directed by Arch. Davide Padoa, assisted by Arch. Stefano Cordeschi for the building permit.  Aura Mall is part of a larger urban redevelopment project for the entire Valle Aurelia district, the aim of which is to reorganize services and enhance the former Fornace Veschi area.

Adjacent to the new Piazza de Fornace, the shopping centre is designed to be a focal point, providing a welcoming environment for people to meet and spend time, with easy access from the surrounding residential areas and the nearby underground and railway stations.  With 60 shops, a hypermarket, a gym and a book store alongside the carefully designed spaces for recreational activities, the abundant green spaces and the many different dining possibilities, Aura Mall will provide a wide choice of opportunities for local residents and visitors alike.

The design of the mall actively follows the natural contours/slope of the site, using the height differentials to create access points on different levels while, simultaneously also framing interesting views of the surrounding town on each side.   At the heart of the project is a commercial gallery which culminates in a secluded square for public use.  Partly open-air, the gallery also acts as a link between the subway station, the residential area and Piazza della Fornace. The top floor comprises a key design feature of the mall the terrace food-court.  From here, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Rome while relishing the wealth of cuisines on offer.   Beneath the mall, there are two underground garages that can accommodate over 700 cars.

Another defining design feature is the permeabilityof the mall, with continuous flow between internal and external spaces, verdant flows of nature throughout and the innate connectivity embodied in the connecting ramps at all levels which, like the High Line of New York, creates a series of linear parks, with continuous views towards the Piazza dellaFornace and the constantly varying views of the Aura Mall building.  This deliberate design feature of permeability is underlined by the choice of the cover to the terrace-food court: entirely made of laminated wood and glass, this architectural element favors natural light, which illuminates the gallery beneath. All the levels that overlook it enjoy natural light, and the sky is thus transformed into a scenic element that is enlivened by the continuous interplay play of reflections, accentuated by the glass.

The design of the interior sensitively reflects the urban nature of the center by creating the gallery as central street, conceived as space to be both directional as well as place to stop, linger and admire the surroundings.  These choices are undoubtedly inspired by the commercial galleries of the nineteenth century, such as the Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. In the gallery there is another distinctive feature of the center: a three-level front that, as on a street, represents the building façade but has been reinterpreted for this commercial environment. The theme of the road is further emphasized in the choice of the materials, for example the stone effect flooring that recalls a paved road and which, by playing on the different shades from white to dark grey, create interesting patterns reminiscent of the streets of Rome.  By continuing this same flooring material from within to the building to the outside, the inherent continuity and permeability of the design are strengthened further.

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