Limite come evoluzione: Artprison Favignana.
Michele Marini, Marco Agosti
Competition: gold mention
Artprison Favignana, is a competition from YAC, that proposed a new future for the abandoned S.Caterina fortress.
The goal is to make this amazing building a new main core for the mediterranean and european art movement.
The design is a natural extension in the lifecycle of the S.Caterina Fortress. Like a new defensive wall, the project enclose the old structure and contains all the new functions. The new building works on two different levels, a public one composed by a series of exhibition rooms connected by a “castle moat like” path, and a more private one, that hosts two artists, their living, meditative and production spaces.
The project vocabulary and spatiality are sampled by the ones of the castle, maintaining a similar sequence of spaces between the new building and the old one is a crucial task. Thanks to the harsh position of the castle and the incredible view on Favignana and on the Mediterranean Sea, solitude and inspiration are already present, the goal was to dig them out from the stone with this design. The fortress will host a regular collection of site-specific artworks made by local artists, we thought that in order to have something deeper than a simple museum, art should be the main tool to restore the castle. This specific artworks will enhance the hidden secrets of this amazing building, in order to show them to the visitors.
The essence and the history of Favignana is curved inside the stone walls of this castle, and it’s possible to read them. We hope that, one day, the visitors will be able to read the rest of the story also on our new tufo wall.
To solve the design we did 4 main and clear steps:
Understanding the place:
When we first looked at the drawings and pictures of the S.Caterina Fortress, we were immediately hit buy the powerful
lines and mass of its architecture. The rooms are literally curved inside a huge block of tufo, 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 could 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 difficult to chose 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 it’s 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 a open air promenade with a perfect view from all the sides of the castle, and ,nside 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 digged a path that simulates and old castle moat, this path distributes a series of small rooms. The addition is broke in 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 because 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 floor, and on the ground floor 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 floor and also in the “production studio” of the artists at the underground floor. The fortress will host at the ground the box office and the book shop at the groudn floor (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: v) and ask them to make a project of site-specific artworks for the S.Caterina Castle, and to be the artistic curators of its entire restoration procedure. In order to not have simply a museum, but something that can really become a new artistic core fore 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 infinte 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, reflecting Favignana island itself.
The design aims to don’t bother or influence all this features, but it also propose 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 artist apartment, the production studio (they should be well divided to avoid nocive material to get inside the flat) 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 ceiling, 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.