Piazza Colonna - Rome
Location: Rome , 3rd District , Piazza Colonna.
It is one of the four buildings fronting onto Piazza
Colonna together with Palazzo Chigi
(seat of the Government ), Palazzo Wedeking
(seat of the “Il Tempo” newspaper ) and Palazzo Ferrajoli
Gross surface area: 11,532.69 sqm / 124,140.90 sqf over 4 floors
Tenants : 27 business
Year of construction: 1922
Architect: Dario Carbone
Year of Purchase: 2009
Designated use: commercial
Sole subscriber: Fondazione Enasarco
The Galleria in Piazza Colonna was built at a time when Rome was being transformed to become the effective capital of Italy and is one of the best known and most captivating places in the city, both for its central location and for its highly prestigious architectural structure as well as the aura that has always accompanied a visit.
The history of the Galleria Colonna began in 1872, during the urban transformation of Rome when the new forms of traffic in the Capital began to pose problems of transport and urban planning reflecting the new requirements caused by Government activity. The necessity to widen Via del Corso and modify the layout of Piazza Colonna required the construction of new buildings and several demolitions including the most significant which was Palazzo Piombini owned by the Boncompagni Ludovisi family. It was then that the idea of creating a shopping arcade like that in Milan and other European cities came into being. Many architects set about creating a design but the inadequacy of some such architectural firms was often accompanied by a lack of capital to carry out the work. It was only in 1911 that the Rome Council approved Dario Carbone’s project that, following many variations and modifications, finally became executive and the work got underway, taking until its inauguration on 20 October 1922. The Galleria, like Piazza Colonna itself, got its name from the Marcus Aurelius Column (also known as the Antonina column), erected between 176 and 192 A.D. The Piazza was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V on the very central via del Corso and is surrounded by some of the most important historical buildings in Rome: Palazzo Chigi, currently the home of the Cabinet Office, Palazzo Wedeking, historical home of the newspaper “Il Tempo” and Palazzo Ferrajoli belonging to various aristocratic families such as the Aldobrandini family.
The building was construed with many different features compared to other buildings in Rome but it fitted in perfectly with the urban fabric of the Capital and responded well to the needs of the social life of the new bourgeoisie such as family walks, meeting people in cafes and shopping in elegant shops. The building has a rectangular footprint with two rounded sides. Inside there is a central V shaped concourse onto which all the shops and commercial activities open. Its point of convergence is at the main entrance opening onto Piazza Colonna with the other two entrances on the opposite side of the building in via di Santa Maria In Via, although some shops also have windows and individual access along the other two sides. There are six floors above ground plus the roof floor and one below ground and a covered public arcade concourse runs through it on the ground floor. The second to fifth floors have been designated as office space since the construction of the building whereas part of the basement, the ground, mezzanine and first floors are all designated for individual commercial activities. The façade is part ashlar-work lleria and part marble and travertine friezes.
The interior fittings are in chestnut wood and the flooring in parquet and precious multicoloured marbles. With its efficient access points in glass and air curtains, the arcade itself appears to be cut off from the external elements of both noise and climate. The fine, complex restoration, carried out by the Lamaro Group, which took 3 years and was completed in 2003, returned the complex to its former splendour and vitality, expertly preserving the building’s historical and architectural value and combining it with the necessary innovation and functionality under the scrutiny of the Heritage and Environmental Superintendant’s office. The shopping arcade that took form is, today, a large prestigious and modern yet historic arcade with features that match those of the best shopping arcades in Europe where people can shop in comfort and safety. Its exceptional location in the heart of Rome with its historical and artistic heritage, its gravitational pull for a wide catchment area, the continual presence of Italian and foreign tourists and its excellent public transport links make the building a privileged place for commercial enterprise.
The commercial formula employed respects the historic vocation of the original shopping arcade: all the units open onto the pedestrian concourse on the ground floor forming a system of pre-eminent shops and boutiques all in a single location making it the most prestigious showcase in the Capital.