Fornici Alta Velocità
Fabrizio Rossi Prodi
Tunnel arch supports, such as those of Rino Tami for the N2 Chiasso-San Gottardo superhighway, are at the center of Rossi Prodi Studio’s project for the high-speed railway along an ample esplanade in the Apennine mountain range of the Tuscany area.
The Florentine design team’s challenge was to integrate the engineering works, for which reinforced concrete was used for structural performance, with the natural surroundings. The presence of concrete is strongly mitigated by the choice of stone applications. Local sandstone follows the natural and excavated curves to mediate, in a conceptual and physical manner, the dominant characteristics of the natural and manmade materials. As a metaphor for the confrontation between the natural world and the requirements of industrial production, stone provides an organic counterpart to the fluent three-dimensional concrete modeling. Interposing a gray sandstone diaphragm between the eye and the concrete wall, offers the act of intervention and subtracting from mountain areas, the possibility to be perceived as less invasive and more natural.
The stonework takes shape by laying orderly horizontal layers of overlapped ashlars. These horizontal layers differ in the size of the ashlars, color and surface finish and, in some segments, by length: at times seemingly endless, and at times knowingly interrupted. In addition, a variety of textural effects are obtained by using imprecise coplanar levels of overlapped ashlars, and inconsistent depths of the joints between layers. One can note the precise design of the technical elements, which extends even to the minute, purely functional components.