The Master's course is structured in our Lehrstuhl on specific cases of study in urban contexts strongly conditioned by the memory of the place. This semester we will continue the investigation on the perceptive and atmospheric qualities of architecture initiated in the winter semester. The topic of study will be the transformation of the boundary between the city and the sea. Palermo is one of the cities with the richest and most complex culture in the Mediterranean, and a place in the midst of urban and social transformations: from capital of the Mafia still in 1980’s to Italian Capital of Culture 2018. In the center of the Mediterranean, place of migrants in history, the identity of the city is intimately connected to the sea, the coast. The great increase in tourism in recent years has been paradoxically parallel to the huge influx of migrants from North Africa on the Sicilian coast. These two opposed realities will suppose one of the main topics of the work of the semester. The concepts of limit and time become the underlying Leitmotiv of the projects based on the idea of a limit-less and a time-less space. As an essential part of the semester, we will make an excursion to Sicily, having the opportunity to experience the historical values and architectural needs of the city in relation to its coastline.
The recent edition of ‘Manifesta12’ in Palermo was an important cultural and artistic initiative which served as the starting point of our proposal to work on the relationship between the city and the coast. The students will develop their ideas and projects in different areas: in abandoned buildings, on unresolved edges between the sea and the urban structure. We propose three specific areas of Palermo in the limit between land and water:
-La Centrale / Castello a Mare
-Urban edges of the river Oreto
The projects will be divided into those three areas, each team will work on one of them, taking into consideration the concepts of “limit-less” and “lime-less”.
Every project carries within it the acknowledgment of the boundary as a concept, which determines its spatial and formal configuration. Whether the materialization of that limit should occur in a clear or blurred manner, with strength or gentleness, expressing transparency or opacity, is not a minor decision, because it reflects a specific stance when addressing the multiple discontinuities that contemporary cities face today. These discontinuities are juxtaposed in the strip of land where the urban structure of Palermo meets the water: between the sea and the city; the existing buildings and the new expansion. Working on the concept of no-limit implies recognizing the potential that architecture has to connect instead of divide. An architecture "without limits" means, in this sense, the possibility of connecting the existing urban and social discontinuities.
Architectural interventions in historical areas share a common factor: the relationship between architecture and time. When facing the transformation of a city like Palermo, we become aware of the temporality and the historical past. The main difficulty lies in determining the degree to which a new project—temporary in the sense that it addresses current functional and social needs—blends into a historical time that houses the memory of multiple previous transformations. We will work on the concept of “timelessness” as a means of connecting the multiple temporal layers that, like a palimpsest, structure the city of Palermo.
The programmatic functions, areas and proportion of interior and exterior spaces will be discussed in the class so that they form part of the debate of ideas that is intended. Only as a reference, the following uses are suggested:
-Temporary facilities for the reception of migrants
-Facilities for public activities, performances, sports, open space public events.
-Recovery of industrial buildings and historical ruins for cultural, social, educational uses.
-Public spaces for the inhabitants of the surrounding areas -Affordable housing units