Volcano Buono / RPBW


Resting on the outskirts of Naples, Renzo Piano latest Volcano Buono is a mixed use center  that aims to become integrated into the landscape, rather than just occupying it.  The central piazza of the Volcano includes a 150 meter-wide space that holds an outdoor theater and market, while a series of concentric rings form the center’s commercial areas.  Piano explained that the Volcano  is “a contemporary take on a Greek marketplace, a void as a place for events, meetings, dialogue and the gathering of people”.

More about the Volcano and more images after the break. VULCANO BUONO - NOLA (NA)

From a distance, the Volcano fits naturally with the contours of the land, yet upon closer inspection, the Volcano becomes a modern version of the traditional marketplace, with bustling markets and lively activities such as a shopping mall, entertainment and public spaces, restaurants, a hotel, offices and other facilities.


The commercial center’s cone-shaped form is comprised of interlocking and rotating solids, each with a different slope. The slopes vary in height from 25 to 41 meters and have an overall diameter of 320 meters.  The project is constructed from reinforced concrete, and then the roof  is covered with over 2,500 plants that insulate the interior spaces, and help the man made structure blend into its surroundings.  The roof  is also laced with a series of skylights fitted with solar-control double-pane glass to reducing energy needed from lighting by filtering in sunlight.






Images Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Project: Il Vulcano Buono
Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects
, Italy
Phase One, 1995-2000

Design Team:
R.V. Truffelli (Partner in charge)
D. Magnano, P. Brescia, G. Bruzzone, M. Carroll, C. Friedrichs, S. Ishida, D. Piano, M.Palmore, H.Peñaranda, C.F. Shmitz Morkramer, G. Senofonte, E. Spicuglia E. Baglietto
Phase Two, 2001-2007

Design Team:
G. Grandi, D. Magnano (Senior Partner and associate in charge)
V. Tolu, C. domenici, D. Hart, O. de Nooyer, A. Bouton
Favero & Milan
Manens Intertecnica
Maire Engineering
Cost Control:
Austin Italia
Studio Archemi
Fire Prevention:
P. Castiglioni
Photos: Moreno Maggi RPB

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Volcano Buono / RPBW" 25 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=36090>
  • Doug

    At first blush, seems a tad trite. But upon further inspection the project reveals itself to be brilliantly elegant. Then again, what else would one expect from Renzo.

  • http://ummhello.tumblr.com thomas

    The sea of parking is a bit distracting…It reminds me of a typical stadium in the US. Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles keeps coming to mind.

  • PB

    Hello Mall d’ Italia – a more elegant version of Mall of America (Bloomington, MN), but an over sized shopping mall none the less.

  • http://www.garalysoka.com oscar falcón lara

    Wow, this is amazing, at first it may just seem a mimic or a homage, but then you look at all that the plan and details show and you have to wonder at how grand and interesting the whole complex is. Granted it is for commercial use, but it sure is a fun place.

  • Knok Knok

    As I was going trough the articles suddenly I encounter with this Renzo Piano project which I would call “Frankenstein take 58” What are the real intentions behind this project? Why the thematic volcano form? Wasn’t this dominant form already established in the landscape, with an actual live volcano from the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio nearby?

    I find this building not clever at all as intended to be, in fact the form argument is so weak that one could irrespectively change the programs to a sports stadium instead and not worrying of any major form changes. How this is possible? In a simple way… when form doesn’t follows function! But I suspect there is more to it these days than just breaking this rigid design code. The implications of such an approach undermines architectures essence which is ultimately to improve the human condition and sets base for an “architecture of surfaces” which is ultimately to enounce the human condition. All this leads me to another question: How is architecture ever going to be release from this “strike mode” if we see our so call heroes like Piano participating and engaging very actively on this entertainment business spirit that has architecture under its confines?

    • Second that!

  • First time a Piano’s project disappoints me.

    From the outside, a Vulcan ???? why??? What is the point of that, mimic the background, because it for sure doesn’t blend in the area with that huge parking lot.

    About the interior, looks like a collage of older projects from Piano. The pillars from Padre Pio Church, lights from the Lingotto Factory, Mall clerestory of the Potsdamer Platz and looking to older projects the details doesn’t seem that great either.

    And what is the point of that central square??? Doesn’t seem to be inviting.

    • Luca

      Zè, look photos again, than you’ll understand why he chose the volcano shape. ;)

  • http://vitsee.wordpress.com vitsee

    the central public space is lifeless, and look at that sea of parking!! the whole thing is utterly pointless.

  • erik

    c’mon – sure, it’s not particularly genius to make this volcano mimicry the carrying idea behind this project… but it’s a MALL, people!!… think about the alternatives that 99.99% of other architects would have designed for this purpose. At least it’s not an eyesore, like most malls – the idea that it “blends” into it’s surroundings, makes this building want to disappear… you should be happy about that :)

    • daniel daiber


  • alby

    Are the cars representing the lava?

    • CB

      That is a loaded comment Alby

  • CB

    I am shocked by the lack of dimension in this project….

    1) Why not implement underground parking? Not just considering how it looks or feels to enter a parking lot of that magnitude but from the users standpoint.. Will they need shuttles to bring people to and from the furthest areas of the parking? It is truly MASSIVE.

    2) I have less of an issue with the structure itself, despite its shallow argument, but the center of the market place also seems a bit out of scale for the user. I understand wanting to use it for farmers markets or events, thats a great idea, but couldn’t they find a way to create a welcoming usable space while it remains empty?

    After his work at Golden Gate Park in SF you would think these two things would not be such an issue..

  • NMiller

    I certainly appreciate the attempt at “greening” of the shopping mall and transforming the exterior shell into a park. However, I feel that the banal approach to parking and the siting on the outskirts of the city reduces a formally interesting design to “more of the same.”

    This is Victor Gruen with a new and exciting form…I feel that it is unfortunate that the success or failure of the project will ultimately be driven by the same kind of sprawl-economics that have lead to so many dead shopping centers.

  • Alby

    Actually i really like RPBW, and i have to say that the volcano idea can be related to the function of the building itself… what’s a better shape for a consumer goods shrine of our age.
    A pop icon image…I think Piano has really understood Venturi, and this is the proof he doesn’t use a pre-packed style as many of the architects nowadays.

    Learning from Vegas dudes!

  • Michael G

    If the shopping mall (and that is what it is, not a commercial center) were to really blend into its surroundings it would need to be designed as a parking lot. That’s what the immediate surroundings are, one vast parking lot.
    -Energy saving building. how much energy does it take to drive there?
    -Plaza too large and empty.
    –concentric circles are not the best for wayfinding in a large space.
    -adding a theater does not make it a mixed-use complex.

  • Samuel

    Less Volcano, more Fried egg (with a hollow yolk).

    A huge disappointment for a Piano project. The carpark is too large a compromise, isolating the project in a sea of concrete.

  • alexander

    wow, i think this is stunning, and somehow simple. To use such a natural shape like a Volcano is smart and bold.

  • bob

    “Volcano Buono is a mixed use center that aims to become integrated into the landscape, rather than just occupying it”

    well, maybe the volcano is integrated in the landscape, but definetely not the cars which are occupying way more landscape than the mall itself.

  • jonathan

    fantastic parking solution – I thought Piano was an italian, not an american.

  • Thiago

    looking from the top, remind me the Coliseum.

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  • Kyle

    The parking lot makes it look like an underground Walmart.
    The project is destroyed because of it.

  • http://cargocollective.com/scottlowe Scott

    It would seem that problem is that the building is a suburban shopping mall, and no one likes the idea of a shopping mall. I agree with the idea that suburbs are wasteful uses of space and energy. But I think that problem is bigger than one architect and one project. It is every architect and more importantly it is every community that needs to realize the problems with their space planning and adjust intelligently.

    Architecturally I think the project is great.

    • e

      George bush was a bad president. He made bad decisions and was wrong ethically, financially, sustainably, and in military leadership. But I think his problems were bigger than just one president and one country. It is every leader and every community that need to make their country a better place.

      Politically I think George Bush is great though.

  • Dustin

    looks like a freak grow-op from the inside.

  • Pooj

    stunning design indeed…

  • Tory

    If I had to choose between a Piano shopping mall and a Westfield shopping mall, I think I’d choose the Piano. The carpark needs attention though.

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  • Rob.i

    I agree with people who said that this is, in the end, just a shopping mall. i mean, it’s not a museum, in this case architects have to consider the big marketing and economic part of the project. from this point of view, i really like the vulcano buono! good concept, very powerful but at the same time respectful of the landscape. you have to consider that that is an industrial area (put in the middle of an agricultural area).

    i also agree with who said that the quality of the details isn’t that high, compared to the usual Piano level. but it’s necessary to remember that this is a huge project, built in italy and in particular in the south. i’m italian and, as you guys know, we don’t have much money, and if we have it we usually use it in a bad way! i’m glad to see that sometimes we can do good things anyway.
    lunga vita a renzo piano!

  • vahid sheikhloi iran

    piano ………. you are ok for ever#

  • Lyle

    It’s disturbing that they tried to implement green roofing and landscape and then created a vast sea of parking. I expected more from Renzo Piano.