- ProjectPalau - Italië, Military Museum
- OpdrachtgeverYoung Architects Competition
- OntwerpFORM architecten
- ProjectteamChiara Pascolini, Eleni Papadogianni, Jörgen Haring, Robert Noordegraaf
- DatumJuni 2018
The multifaceted identity of the project instigated a series of questions to be answered through design: How can architecture metamorphose a place of conflict and war? What are the architectural qualities of the fortress? What is the strategic approach towards the landscape? How can the different programmatic demands of a military museum be connected? What is the formal language that could highlight all aspects of the project? What are the materials capable of harmonizing existing and new? How can architecture evoke a multi-sensory experience of place?
Architecture of the fortress
The idea that gave life to the concept was an observation in regards to the peculiarity of the architecture of the fortress. While other works of man established in the 19th century essentially dominated the landscape, the fortress, by necessity needed to co-exist, blend in and become camouflaged in it. The fortress, subordinate to its purpose, as an instrument of war, needs to generate an architecture of defence, offence and the unseen. Thus the fortress, becomes an extension of the hill, literally carved on the face of its rock. Fortress and hill, are eventually so intertwined with each other that from afar, one cannot realize where one ends and the other begins. The symbiotic relationship between architecture and landscape generates a deep connection between the two that almost annuls its former function. A contemporary visitor of the fortress, becomes so absorbed in its natural beauty that the memories of past conflict become echoes lost in the distance.
Project and landscape
The project, is considered as an intervention on the landscape -and not an architectural object that merely landed on the surface of the ground- and is therefore designed according to principles of preservation, continuation, re-use and harmonic coexistence. This harmonious co-existence does not merely extend on the spatial but also on the temporal dimension since it attempts to exceed the boundaries that separate past and present through adaptation to the site and re-use of its architectural qualities.
The intervention is essentially a promenade that begins at the foot of the hill and gradually leads the visitor on its top, where the fortress is located. Along this promenade, the functions are carefully placed in clusters that form the different programmatic entities described in the brief. The fortresses’ secondary facilities, such as the lodging of the soldiers were already grouped into clusters of structures. The intervention follows and continues the same logic, while at the same time, translates and re-invents the individual structures into new functions. Thus, for example, the program of the hotel is placed in a cluster of spaces that are more dispersed and solitary. In contrast, for the program of the restaurant, that requires more concentration, a single larger structure is chosen.
In its formal articulation, the path consists of smooth curves that attempt to mimic the natural curves found in the surroundings such as the curves of the topography, the waves of the sea and the skyline defined by the mountaintops. The structures that encapsulate the program are considered as points scattered on the topography. The path meanders in between the topographic lines connecting the points and re-inventing them as a whole. As the path gradually ascents, the fortress on the top is framed through a series of views and vistas, that are as important as the physical objects of the intervention since altogether, they form a system that creates a multi-sensory spatial experience. The circulation system of the project, is deliberately designed in a manner that allows the observer to visually immerse in the experience of place in which he/she is situated.
As far as the materiality is concerned, the added elements of the intervention make use of mainly two materials; granite and Corten steel. The former is used in line with the concept of continuation and adaptation into the landscape. It creates a visual connection with the fortress that is built with the same material but also as a heavy natural stone, it resonates a sense of permanence. The effort is focused in making the visual gap between the intervention and the existing as minor as possible. The temporal gap is bridged through the use of the Corten steel, a material in evident decay. The weathered surfaces of the Corten steel correspond to the weathered stone surfaces of the fortress. Again, a harmonious and not conflicting relationship is sought between past and future.
Once at the top, the first point of interest unfolds into the lower part of the fortress where space becomes narrow and intimate with very little natural light. In these darks spaces, the visitor gets acquainted with the where and what through digital projections and an exhibition that narrates the history of place. After navigating through the dark galleries downstairs, the visitor resurfaces into the light, at the top of the fortress where the memorial is located. There, the visitor gets acquainted with the who. The names of the people who lost their lives in conflicts around the site, are engraved into illuminated steel plates. There, in the space of the memorial, the most emotionally charged space on site, the promenade ends. And as the sun sets, clashing into the sea, the visitors find themselves at the highest point of the hill, reflecting on the past and pondering about the future.