Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Campsite in Lucca

Il Serchio,

As an architect I just can’t resist writing about this. This last Monday night we stayed at Il Serchio a camper site in Lucca Italy. At first glance the concept of the place seems great and it looks new and clean. It’s dedicated to campers, has electrical and water hookups at each site, free wifi internet, showers, laundry and dumping station. The price is very reasonable at 18 euro per night and it’s pretty close to the old town center. We rode our bikes into town the first afternoon then the next morning took a nice bike ride along the river bank just up a little hill from the camp.

But it’s one of the best examples of poor design I’ve seen in a while. It’s probably one of those cases where the owner’s didn’t think the services of a good designer was worth the cost of hiring one. The parking spaces for the campers are too short being more the size for a car so the camper sticks out into the road/drive area, it’s a big wide gravel drive with tiny short green spaces for the campers. They put the baths at the farthest corner rather than centrally located, the internet connection is intermittent, goes off and on, and can really only be accessed if one parks closet to the entry. The showers seem like they were designed by someone who never took a shower in a camp of any kind. They are directly across from the toilets, there is no dressing area or place to put ones clothes, turn on the shower and water sprays out into the hall area as the heads are fixed and there is no door just a curtain half of which were torn. The water stays on for something like 30 seconds then has to be started again. It was dark when my son and I went to take a shower and the lights also on timers went off 3 times causing me to have to go into the sink area naked, wet and cold to turn them back on, of course this area was also exposed to the outside through large uncovered windows. Finally, they have a nice dump area for grey and black water. But it’s right in front of the entry to the men’s bath area. In fact the black dump tank (that’s the stuff from the toilet) is right on the walk to the bath so one has to walk across the area where people dump their toilets on the way to take a shower.

As I said above the concept is great, a simple campsite dedicated to the needs of campers/motor homes, with just the things they need and nothing more at a good price in a good location. It’s just too bad it couldn’t have been designed properly.

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