‘Promenade Gambìs-Longa Ru’ is a project for the redevelopment of the urban segment of the Gambìs, the stream that runs through the centre of Cavalese (at 1,000 metres altitude), the main town of Valle di Fiemme, in the Dolomites.
The project reclaims the abandoned and inaccessible spaces along the banks of the stream to create a green promenade along the watercourse (Longa Ru, in the ancient local idiom meaning ‘along the stream’) that connects in a single longitudinal path the town’s large green spaces: the Parco della Pieve to the south, used as a community pasture since the Middle Ages, and the Montebello belvedere to the north, the panoramic viewpoint over the town.
The new pathway connects the blind alleys of the historic centre by offering them an opening to the stream. In this way, cross-connections are strengthened, promoting the pedestrianisation of the city centre, the long-term goal of the project.
Cavalese is the administrative centre of Valle di Fiemme, but it is also an important tourist resort that during the summer and winter months quadruples its inhabitants with a consequent increase in through-traffic. This is why the Promenade is an important part of the overall redevelopment of the historic centre.
The 1859 cadastral map clearly highlights the role played by the Rio Gambìs as the settlement matrix of Cavalese. During the centuries from the 15th to the 19th century, an important productive system (consisting of mills, forges, dye works, sawmills) developed along the watercourse, linked to the exploitation of hydraulic power. The banks were a place full of life, where manufacturing activities flourished. Then, from the beginning of the 20th century, the stream lost its importance as a source of energy and the various activities moved elsewhere and the stream became a neglected space.
The compositional and linguistic choice of the project reflects the desire to characterise this space in a contemporary way, without forcing the consolidated image of the historic centre.
In order to evoke the presence of the water channels that served to power the mill wheels, ‘crushed stone channels’ have been created along the route, ending at the heavy porphyry millstone, which came to light during the excavations.
Only natural materials from the valley were chosen: porphyry (the local stone) in slabs or cubes for the paving, wood planks from the valley’s forests for the bridges and platforms, corten steel for stairs, railings and lighting elements, galvanised steel and glass for the canopies, produced by local companies. Of course, each element was also assessed to ensure long life and low maintenance.
In correspondence with the small alleys that descend from the village towards the river are the three drawbridges that now allow one to cross the Gambis and walk on both the right and left banks. To ensure hydraulic safety, these structures were built with a system that allows them to be raised in case of need. A number of small resting places, recognisable by their paving in porphyry cubes and the flat course, mark these notable points. The rest of the route is paved in porphyry slabs to ensure accessibility for wheelchairs for the disabled, bicycles and baby prams.
There are other rest points along the route, differentiated according to location and exposure. These rest points, equipped where possible with furniture, are also places of connection with the urban context, favouring the contemplation of unusual views of the town and the recreational enjoyment of the entire promenade.
In correspondence with the access to the Coop supermarket (a historic grocery shop), a wooden and steel platform has been created, which constitutes a focal point of the promenade and, exploiting the entire width of the brook, allows for the expansion of the public space and the time for resting.
A central role is given to urban greenery (flowerbeds, hedges and trees), which is the real constant of the promenade. The existing trees (two birch trees, an apple tree and an ash tree) have been preserved and enhanced, organically integrating them into the architectural elements. In the choice of the essences that make up the hedges (Photinia serrulata, Syringa vulgaris) and the protective flowerbeds (combination of climbing, botanical and sarmentose roses), rustic varieties were favoured (Rose x multiflora, Rosa x rugosa, Rosa x wichuriana, Rosa x banksia).
Today, some three years after its completion, the Promenade is very popular with residents and tourists who, thanks to this route, can walk through the town in a short time without using a car.
– total height difference: ∆m 23.50
– average slope of the routes: % 10.15
– total length of paths: ml 250.00
– bridges over the Gambis stream: No. 3
– lay-bys: no. 6
– recovery of old wash-houses: No. 2
– total surface area: sq m 3850
A²studio srl (Cesare Micheletti, Claudio Micheletti e Loredana Ponticelli); collaborators: Cristiana Debiasi, Valter Fontanari, Federico Maganzini, Marta Vassanelli, Elisa Sommavilla (designers); Adriano Bernardi (steel structures)
Location: Cavalese (Valle di Fiemme, Dolomites), Trento, Italy.
Design year: 2017
Year Completed: 2019