Rome, la Rinascente by Franco Albini and Franca Helg shines again thanks to the 2050+ renewal

“The twenty-fifth issue of Cronache announces to the friends of La Rinascente an important event in the life of the company: the opening of the new large branch in Rome in Piazza Fiume.”

It was 1961 onwards Chronicles Rinascente Upim, year XVthe big news was published.

The new opening continued the commercial operation that began with the birth of the department store in Piazza Colonna, a reference point for life in the capital. La Rinascente fashion was born. “Where are we meeting?” – asked the groups. “At Rinascente!” – was the answer.

The great commercial machine, born for the townspeople of the center, had soon manifested the need to expand its area of ​​influence to welcome customers in other areas such as Flaminio, Prati and Termini, addressing increasingly huge classes.

This need required a new building keeping up with the timesa mirror of progress and capable of holding attention high on itself, containing within itself the world of today, but at the same time heralding that of tomorrow.

The project was then commissioned Franco Albini And Franka Helgleading architects of the Milanese scene at that time, who managed to respond very well to the profound historical changes.

The two designers simply described it as follows: “The new Rinascente in Piazza Fiume is a building that, due to the gravity of its members, recalls the classical setting of superimposed orders, but which aims to be easily perceived by the man on the street. Once again we saw – and The large warehouse it gave us a very happy starting point – that architecture is no longer made only based on the needs of the external client, but, above all, is a social event, concerning and involving the community.”.

The project concerned a simple square volumeaway from the Umbertine grandeur of Piazza Colonna, defined by internal flows to optimize commercial space.

The facade openings, minimal and studied in height, were intended to reveal spectacular details, such as the spiral staircase and the escalators, intriguing the passers-by who entered them.

Rinascente Piazza Fiume, Rome. spiral staircase, [1962] | © Franco Albini Foundation

The interior spaces, commissioned to the architect Carl Paganisaw the 5000 square meters served by 5 escalators to allow the flow and outflow of an average of 25,000 customers per hour, a realistic response to the needs of the new Rome of the 1960s.

The 1961 design thus became a celebratory expression of the symbols of modernity, anticipating the era of globalization.

La Rinascente in Rome, Piazza Fiume. View of the men’s section, [1962] | © Franco Albini Foundation

Defined by historian and architecture critic Reyner Banham “a technological architecture for a historical context”, la Rinascente in Piazza Fiume appeared as a complex project that, through the horizontal arrangement of the steel frames, reminiscent of the typical moldings of Roman palaces featuring a concrete and granite cladding that was a prefabricated, modern version of the traditional stone facade.

A fusion of design, architecture and technology in the service of the function it had to coverwhich demonstrated, at the same time, the great design skills of Albini and Helg.

Rinascente Rome Piazza Fiume, in “Cronache laRinascente Upim” 1967, year XX, number 42

The facades and interiors, partially transformed over the years to adapt to the spatial needs of the retail sector, had turned the building into an introverted container, partially sacrificing its role in the urban context.

Last year, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, la Rinascente announced the renovation project of the entire storeassigned to studio 2050+.

In keeping with the contemporary spirit of Albini and Helg, the renovation project worked accordingly to restore the role of Rinascente in Piazza Fiume as a space open to citizens and visitors.

To learn more about the history of La Rinascente, visit

image: © 2050+

Scope of 2050+: the balance between restoration and conservation

Taking into account the design of Franco Albini and Franca Helg, the intervention of studio 2050+ acts on the architectural transformation of the exterior spaces and the restructuring of the sixth floor.

“Novelty – say the designers – it is timeless and not based on style or image, but on materials and function. To be modern is to embody and transform rather than to simulate an attitude.’

Positions translated into targeted interventions, which collect the legacy of the original project by developing a dynamic relationship with the past, oriented towards the search for a balance between restoration and preservation.

To crown the architectural work is, therefore, theopening of the sixth floor which in addition to marking the restoration of the facade, reflects the original intention of the building: an open and dynamic space.

Starting from regular rather than formal assessments, the project includes the strategic replacement of specific structural elementswith the aim of reviving both the technical and spatial solutions belonging to the original project, while still being adapted to the needs of a modern department store.

But it is newly builtpanoramic elevator which, taking the shape of the staircase – as envisaged in the 1957 version of the project – fits harmoniously into the structural compartment of the facade, improving internal flows and providing access to the restaurant on the sixth floor directly from the courtyard, even outside its opening hours business building.

photo: © Alessandro Saletta, Agnese Bedini

From the courtyard itself, with the restoration of the transparency of the glass surfaces, the view of the escalators is revealed, creating an evocative scenography in constant motion.

Along piazza Fiume and via Salaria, on the other hand, the complete replacement of the windows restores the original geometries and proportions, while the part of the roof facing the Aurelio walls is transformed through the introduction of a glass surface, to offer customers restaurants unprecedented view of the city.

Between lights, modular components, surfaces and wall, the interiors reinforce the characteristics of Albini and Helg’s work: the ceiling is placed in a graphic partition that introduces a triangular pattern in the rhythm of the beams and diffuses the light while The modular screen, the which follows the structure, reorganizes the course of the floor.

photo: © Alessandro Saletta, Agnese Bedini

photo: © Alessandro Saletta, Agnese Bedini

designs: © 2050+


architectural renovation project, Rome, Italy

Work team
Giacomo Ardesio • Mattia Inselvini • Francesca Lantieri • Camilla Morandi • Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli • Massimo Tenan • Chiara Tomassi

Construction supervision
: Archilabos
Local architect: PEI Engineering
Lighting project: CS Projects
Structural Design: Studio Bartoloni
Plant drawing: BRE Engineering
Facade restoration consultant: Enrico Montanelli
Facade solutions and supplies: theme
General Contractor: CMB

Photos: © Alessandro Saletta, Agnese Bedini

+information: 2050.cont


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