Ripple – A challenging creation adorns the Margraf Area in Gambellara (Vicenza)
In these extraordinary times, Margraf has shown that it looks beyond challenges as it prepare to conclude the futuristic, monumental new work Ripple, which was designed by Raffaello Galiotto. It is a towering propylaeum with a stunning 3D appearance that spans 600 m² and adorns the wall of the new dining facilities in the Margraf Area in Gambellara (near Vicenza). It is made of exclusive Fior di Pesco Carnico® marble, which can only be found in a quarry in Forni Avoltri (near Udine) that is owned by Margraf. Margraf commissioned this challenging work to go on the opposite side of the new logistics site from the monumental 14.5 m Arcolitico arch that was created in 2018. Ripple is located on the drive and it is like an Ancient Greek propylaeum: a monumental entrance to the Margraf Area. Ripple highlights Margraf’s exceptional technical and technological capabilities when it comes to shaped marble cutting for use in 3D cladding of architectural façades. The ground-breaking project showcases the 3D qualities of stone in architecture using an innovative shaping-wire cutting method. Whereas the traditional technique involves removing and crushing excess material, this is a separation-based process. The block of marble is surgically divided into parts, which are then seamlessly put back together to create new shaped, winding forms. Parametric software was used during the complex design process, which ensured that the material use, cutting and processing times were optimized. All of the necessary stone pieces were produced one after another: like the petals of a rosebud, they were plucked one at a time and then rearranged on the wall. The undulating stone cladding on the façade is made up of 350 pieces that are lined up in 35 columns of 10 different pieces. In addition, there are curved pieces on the sides of the wall and more than 300 flat tiles on the inside. The total surface area of the marble covering the entire wall is 600 m². The ripples on the outside gradually get bigger towards the centre and flatter towards the edges, reaching a total difference in depth of 70 cm, with 35 cm of convex rounding on the even columns and 35 cm of concave rounding on the odd columns. Each column is made of up 10 pieces and formed from the same block of marble thanks to sequential, shaped diamond wire cutting. The contouring process with individual blocks means that marble waste is minimal, while the sequential cutting enables the external and internal sides of each piece to be processed at the same time. The fact that the ten pieces in each column are made from the same block means that they have distinctive, unique veins and colouring. Once they are joined back together vertically, they have an interesting progressive texture. It was necessary to take great care not only with the complex composition procedure but also with the issues relating to the thicknesses, which could not be allowed to vary too much. The 3D forms of the ripples were not just drawn up arbitrarily: they are the product of meticulous efforts to balance maximum visual appeal with minimum waste, consistency in the thicknesses, the need for mechanical attachments to the metal structure, and the limits imposed by the cutting machinery. There is also an opening in the wall so that people can go through the door into the building. It is sloped to match the ripples.
“This project is interesting because it is innovative but also extremely classical at the same time,” states the designer, Raffaello Galiotto. “It puts forward and sums up some of the concepts that I have developed in the past in a number of experimental marble works: reducing waste by choosing separation over removal, computer-aided design and CNC machining. It was conceived and designed on computers, following numerical rules, a sense of order and proportional thinking that may paradoxically be closer to Palladio than Frank Gehry. We’re lucky today because we have much more powerful calculation tools than in the past. They enable us to push beyond traditional habits and methods without betraying the spirit that sought out an ideal sense of beauty and proportionality, as the sublime goal of creation.”
The Margraf Area is becoming a real “capital of quintessential Italian excellence”, in a strategic location near the Montebello exit of the A4 motorway between Milan and Venice.