Parasitizing the Void

Crevalcore, Bologna, Italy

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Eleni- Anthi Mintsiou

Crisis: Environmental / Social
Program: Habitation / Cultivation / Festivals

Project Description:
“Parasitizing the void” addresses the earthquake destruction at the town of Crevalcore, in Italy. The proposed insertions of “urban branches” operate as support structures; re-activate the existing “ruined”, and otherwise abandoned, old buildings. An elegant dialogue with the surviving architecture takes into consideration issues of memory, heritage, and future development, while innovatively
responding to possible upcoming disasters. On the night of May 20th 2012, an earthquake shook the central the middle-northern part of Italy, razing hundreds ancient buildings and transforming many inner cities in abandoned ruins. The goal of the project is the revitalization of the old town of Crevalcore, Bologna, through a new model of agrotourism that builds upon long-established seasonal gastronomic festivals. The project transforms the interior courtyards of the dense built-up territory into cultivation fields, creating a widespread hotel to host various tourists who visit Crevalcore during the events throughout the year. The cross-section drawing refers to an emerging architectural intervention in the earthquake-damaged site. The town’s Municipal building hosts a newly inserted program named “widespread hotel”. Like a sprouting seed, a new lightweight skeleton grows and parasitizes the existing “ruined” structure of the old building. The intention of this project is to occupy “anthropized” contexts and to create infrastructure capable of sewing together the destructive scenery and the “urban branches” (contradictory to the roman Cartesian pattern). This creates a single system that collects various aspects: the remaining wall skin as base system, the embodied “memory” debris, and injected greenery inside the existing interior patios in an urban space where the green is extremely controlled and sometimes absent. The new structure will respond to the hazards of the seismic area by creating a “tree trunk” supporting column system at the ground level extending to the underground “root” system. This will offer visitors a chance to sense the underground carved “arterias” leading to living spaces less susceptible to the effects of earthquake. These residences will be appropriated and modified by residents, creating a new quality of urban rooms adjusted to the “urban branches” and gently embraced by (flexible and light) carbon fiber fabric that allows natural ventilation. Over time, the boundaries between private and public will become increasingly blurred. The fundamental challenge of “whole building” design approach is to overcome this situation and create a cultured and elegant dialogue with surviving architecture, filling the gaps left behind by the earthquake and taking into consideration issues of memory, heritage, development, future disasters, and the regeneration of the urban tissue flexible to changes to ecology, lifestyle, and the surrounding urban landscape. 

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