Buildings on most commercial streets in traditional Italian cities are mixed use: businesses are on the ground floor and residential above. For the better part of 100 years, city planning abhorred that principle. The New Urbanists led the way to a return to multi-use buildings. This building is in Camucia, Tuscany. It contains a grocery store on the ground floor, offices on the second, and residences on the third. A good mix.
And yet the planners got this one all wrong. Badly.
Instead of facing the street with its main business address, as all traditional buildings do, its ass-end faces the street. The entrance to the building faces the parking lot, which is on the interior of the site. While I guess we could commend the planners for not putting the parking lot out front, they still have done the civic realm a great disservice. This area of the street will have no life for what, 50 years? Or longer depending on how crappily the building was built.
An alternative would have been to put the entrances on the street and make car drivers walk round the building to the front. Instead, pedestrians have to brave the crappy experience. But there is landscaping! And a tower!
An even better alternative would have been to use the land provided for parking for either more buildings – increasing density – or for open space.
The longer I am here, the more I am amazed at the apparent and profound lack of what is staring Italian planners in the face! How can people surrounded by such instinctively right planning solutions come up with such bad results?