Architecture is a public good, and therefore it follows that architecture should serve the public. Often, especially in minimalism, great design is reserved for private dwellings. This is not the case with Torino Outlet Village by the renowned Claudio Silvestrin, who once studied under the master designer and teacher A G Fronzoni. Located outside of Turin, Italy, this stunning shopping plaza is a unique piece of architecture enjoyed by all who visit.
Visible from the highway below, the open-air Torino Outlet Village is comprised of many shops bordering a long promenade. The defining feature is the 88 metre high spire, which rises from above the shops and visitors and beneath it. The spire is as symbolic as it is practical: not only does it serve as an easily recognisable landmark, but is also a figurative bridge between earth and sky. The spire shoots up to the sky in an unparalleled design—an instant icon.
Visitors to the plaza enter through a gate nestled underneath the impressive spire. The rows of storefronts spread in long lines in front of the viewer, bordering a wide walkway. Opposite the tower sits a reflecting pool. The body of water is housed in an infinity pool so well structured that one can hardly tell where the pond ends and the buildings begin. Further accentuating the monumental feel of the space, identical trees line both sides of the plaza. The trees, combined with the open-air concept, invite one to linger and enjoy the outdoors.
The unique design of the Outlet Village makes it hard to pinpoint the design in a specific time in architecture history. This is intentional, and a specialty of Silvestrin’s. Timeless and genre-defying designs abound in Silvestrin’s portfolio, not surprising given that he draws his inspiration from historical and contemporary sources. Torino Outlet Village is a pleasant mixture of traditional and modern elements. Ancient materials of stone and lime plaster cover the exterior facade. The large stone blocks that form the structure are a soft tan, reminiscent of earth and nature. This material is contrasted sharply with the smooth white of the tower, arguably one of the most recognisable modern elements in the region. The mix of classic and avant-garde design play together well, allowing the viewer to feel as if they are surrounded by the highest level of creativity.
Silvestrin takes pleasure in finding the complexity behind a seemingly simple design. There is always a richness behind simplicity, a story that is not visible on the surface. This concept is literal in the design of Torino Outlet Village, where the exterior facade hides the bustle of shops and customers. Yet there is also a philosophical richness: while the form of the structure may be simple, the meanings behind its design are abundant. According to Silvestrin, the design of the structure emphasises visual clarity, freedom of movement, open perspectives, and visual order.