Arcolitico: a hallmark in the landscape of infrastructures in the project by Raffaello Galiotto.

For people driving along one of the main road arteries in northern Italy – the Milan-Venice motorway – the indistinct visual landscape of warehouses and industrial areas on either side recently welcomed an unexpected new element: Arcolitico, a parabolic sculptural element in natural stone designed by Raffaello Galiotto and produced as a frieze in Margraf’s production complex near Vicenza.

A distinctive hallmark in the territory

Given its strategic position along the A4 Motorway, this stone sector company was keen to characterise its modernised industrial logistics complex with a project-manifesto of its technical skills, together with its ceaseless commitment to experimentation in order to combine natural stone and modern digital systems. The involvement of Raffaello Galiotto, the curator of the recent editions of The Italian Stone Theatre, highlighted his constant design research into the use of advanced technologies in stone processing. The result is a work of considerable dimensions combining environmental sculpture and infrastructural land art, an arch with a base footprint of twelve metres by more than fourteen metres in height, with a single opening at the base on one side to highlight the internal cavity. The arch is made up of 34 overlapping marble rings secured to an internal metal support structure; each ring in turn is made up of four sectors, for a total of 136 different elements in Fior di Pesco Carnico natural stone.


The shape of the arch

Arcolitico came about through the desire to experiment with the articulated shapes obtained by numerically controlled diamond wire cutting, a technique that reduces wastage of raw materials almost to zero. Thanks to numerical processing control, correlated with the parametric design of each individual piece, it is possible to cut and “surgically” separate blocks of stone – four in this instance – into parts which, in relation to a precise assembly scheme, are recomposed in the predefined architectural form. Designers are therefore not limited to the final configuration of architectural or design objects but have to extend their knowledge to the entire production process.

The evolution of a model

An inevitable reference for Arcolitico was the work of a maestro such as Angelo Mangiarotti, who experimented with the idea of cutting and separating individual pieces from a single block in works such as Cono Cielo in 1989. Galiotto develops this production-construction principle by expanding its formal complexity thanks to the development of design software and the technological evolution of machinery (a shaping wire with seven controlled axes). This gives rise to the twisted and grooved parabolic shape capable of evoking the delicacy of drapery through the folds obtained on the surface of the material. The discontinuity in the re-assembly of the elements produced from the individual blocks gave rise to a rhythmic overall texture for Arcolitico, highlighting the uniqueness, even in such a large scale project, that can be achieved by processing stone materials.


Project: Raffaello Galiotto
Location: Gambellara, Vicenza
Execution: Margraf
Realisation: 2018
Images: Francesco Balasso


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