Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Sept 2009

                                    The Vulcano Buono

The Vulcano Buono (Good Volcano) in Nola, near Naples, has been open for about a year now and is the latest wrinkle in mega/super/hyper-malls. It’s more than a metaphorical wrinkle; it is built to resemble one of those geological wrinkles that erupt occasionally. The presumptive Evil Twin, the Bad Volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, is just a short pyroclastic flow away.

The building looks like the top of a volcano, that is, a truncated cone, an artificial hill, 42 meters high, sloping up to the rim of the “crater”. The slopes are planted with vegetation. (Thus, in a satellite photo, the site is difficult to pick out, although from its size, it shouldn’t be.) The working (shopping) area of the circular shopping center—or “polifunctional service center,” as they prefer to call it—is beneath the slope and comprises 15 square km spread over two floors, each a kilometer in circumference. The entire shopping area encircles an open space at the “bottom of the crater” (at the level of the ground floor of shops) that holds tables and play areas for children. That open space is a circle about 150 meters in diameter. Inside, arrayed along the two kilometers of mall are 160 shops, a supermarket, a Holiday Inn, a Warner multiplex cinema, and about a dozen places to eat. There is parking for 8,000 cars in the lot surrounding the complex. If you have ever walked out of a stadium and forgotten where you parked your car, this is the perfect place to relive that experience.

The architect was Renzo Piano (b. 1937 in Genoa). Among his many, many credits are the George Pompidou Center in Paris (1977) (a collaboration with Richard Rogers), the Music Park auditorium in Rome (1992), the reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin (2000), and the recent 52-story New York Times Building in Manhattan. He also planned the ongoing restoration of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The Vulcano Buono forms part of the large CIS Nola freight village (seen in the top part of the above image) and is a retail outlet for that wholesale, storage and redistribution center.

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