- by Michele Marini
Understanding the place
When we first looked at the drawings and pictures of the S.Caterina Fortress, we were immediately hit by the power lines and mass of its architecture. The walls are thick and geometry of the spaces inside and outside the castle are rich and full of amazing suggestions to be inspired by. The small volume next to the fortress works as a sort of “satellite”, it would seem useless, but it is a very important element that helped us to understand the real scale of this amazing building. Another important thing we’ve noticed is that it’s not easy to walk on the sides of the castle to have different points of view on the breathtaking landscape of Favignana (there’s the possibility to see Italy and Sicily).
Because of its incredible architecture, in our opinion, adding a volume that is principally the offset of the fortress footprint was the only way to take and also the most logical evolution of the castle’s structural form. In this way, we respect the shape and the lines of the castle without adding any extraneous volume (it would be dif cult to choose which shape to use without ruining the majesty of the castle). About the “satellite”, we decided to don’t add anything except for a small podium, apt to enhance its role of “ruler”. Any additions to the historical building should augment rather than overwhelm the existing structure. The architecture of the new addition also takes its visual lead from the defensive walls. Huge and old walls that could host any functions. In our case, this extension will work as an open-air promenade with a perfect view from all the sides of the castle, and, inside the volume, we’ll store the different functions like exhibition rooms, ateliers, and services.
The castle as a masterpiece, the walled enclosure as a back-up
Inside this huge black wall we dug a path that simulates an old castle moat, this path distributes a series of small rooms. The addition is broke at some point to allow a perfect frame on the landscape, the openings are dictated by the main lines of the castle. Another important reason why we decide to build around the castle is that we would like this addition to be a back-up for the castle (like a defensive wall). We thought that the Castle should not be touch at all, except for a huge cleaning work and a precise conservation plan for the structure and the pavements. The program for our project is very simple: the addition is a mixed function building, with two atelier apartments for two artists at the underground door, and on the ground for a path for temporary exhibitions (that will be curated from the artists living in the ateliers). The temporary exhibitions will take place in a series of rooms at the ground door and also in the “production studio” of the artists at the underground door. The fortress will host at the ground the box and the bookshop at the ground our (ending point of the temporary exhibition path), and all the other rooms are going to be used as “site-specific art” museum. We’d like to call some selected local artists (like the ones we directly contacted) and ask them to make a project of site-specific artworks for the S.Caterina Castle and to be the art curators of its entire restoration procedure. In order to not have simply a museum, but something that can really become a new artistic core for the Mediterranean sea, we’ve thought that the castle should be renovated through art, and by artists that can enhance the hidden and beautiful features of this building.
A fortress of inspiration
S.Caterina castle was a lot of things in the past, it’s a bearer of in nte events, emotions and history. On its walls, they’re still sentences written by the prisoners, symbols of antique rich families, all curved in the stone. These are important witnesses of a past full of glory and pain, the walls are, somehow, re ecting Favignana island itself. The design aims to don’t bother or in uence all this features, but it also pro- pose spaces of good inspiration and meditative solitude. The two artists will have the possibility to live inside the new addition and to create operas that are going to expose in the rooms and inside the underground ateliers. The vertical distribution block divides the ateliers in 3 areas: the ar- tist apartment, the production studio (they should be well divided to avoid nocive material to get inside the at) and a “meditative room”. This room is the room where the artist can be completely alone, him and the stunning view on the landscape. In this room, the artist can think about the project, chill, listen to music whatever can help him to be inspired. The spaces of the rooms are sampled by the ones of the castle. The measures, the geometries, the material the shape of the cei- ling, the type of windows are inspired by the castle and adapt to the new addition. In this way, we will maintain a spatial continuity from the castle to the new design with a more contemporary appearance.
architect: Michele Marini | team: Michele Marini, Marco Agosti | collaborator: Genuardi Ruta | client: Young Architects Competitions | status: Competition (2018) | competition: Art Prision | clasification: honour mention | location: Favignana, Italy (37.927052, 12.312018) | climate: Mediterranean, Temperate | material: stone | environment: Mountain | visualizer: Studio | scale: medium | types: hotel, refurbishment, residential | views: 2.216