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Italian Airport Adds Vineyard to Its Roof

by Ron Bernthal

Apr 23, 2024

© Courtesy of Rafael Viñoly Architects

Daily

In Florence, Italy, plans for a new international terminal at Amerigo Vespucci Airport will include a 19-acre vineyard on its rooftop, part of the design by Rafael Viñoly Architects.

Florence is the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany, located in the heart of Italy’s wine country. In keeping with the location’s Tuscan heritage, the new terminal building must, of course, feature a rooftop vineyard.

Florence Airport

© Courtesy of Rafael Viñoly Architects

The 538,000-square-foot terminal building, which will serve almost 6 million international passengers a year, will be connected to several ground transportation options, including a new light rail system and fast and sustainable link between the airport, city and regional destinations.

One of the project’s major objectives is to reorient the existing airport runway, which has limited the number of flight arrivals because of its short length and the presence of nearby hills. Part of the new plan is to turn the new runway 90 degrees away from the hills and increase its length.

The plan for the terminal rooftop is to take one of the nearby vineyards (a common sight in the area) and a small portion of the park system to be created around the new airport, and peel it partially up off the ground to contain the terminal building beneath it. Linear structures of precast concrete will contain the soil and irrigation to sustain the vineyard, and the vineyard will be held aloft by a network of branching columns that preserve layout flexibility for the terminal’s internal components.

Florence Airport

© Courtesy of Rafael Viñoly Architects

Between each of these 38 sloping, elevated structures will be 4 foot wide, insulated skylights that will flood the terminal interior with natural light. The building’s trapezoidal design, narrower on the bottom than the top, will increase the view of the sky from below. There will be a total of 38 rows of productive vineyards that will grow on the building’s roof while providing excellent thermal insulating characteristics that will contribute to the terminal’s targeted LEED Platinum sustainability rating.

Vineyards will be cultivated and harvested by one of the region’s leading vintners, and the wine will be crafted and aged on site in specialized cellars below the area where the ground begins to slope up to become the terminal’s roof.  The enormous surface of the green roof will be visible when viewed from high spots within Florence, as from the top of designer Brunelleschi’s spectacular Duomo, located 6.5 miles from the airport.

The new terminal’s design, in addition to its unique vineyard rooftop, will also improve the passenger experience. By placing the arrivals and departures areas facing each other across a large public space, like a piazza at the center of the terminal, the design will coordinate all the movements in and out of the terminal, providing easy access to mass transit, parking and retail shops that will serve both the local community and air passengers.

terminal

© Courtesy of Rafael Viñoly Architects

On one side of this public space, the check-in area on ground level will lead to a set of escalators that will rise 26 feet to a platform containing immigration, duty-free shops, restaurants and lounges. The platform bridges the piazza and arrivals halls to reach a broad departures concourse whose gates and a large glass enclosure will overlook the runway and nearby hills.

The late Rafael Viñoly, principal and founder, Rafael Viñoly Architects, said, “Florence is maybe the only city in the world that does not need to be promoted. It represents the very idea of Culture. A culture that is productive, intellectual, artistic, and always practical and pragmatic. Florence is a place where things become permanent landmarks because they have a fundamental sense of internal logic and quality.”

Anticipated completion is 2026 for phase 1; be sure to arrive at the terminal with wine glass in hand.

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