Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

• May 13, 2011

Area 8 – The Bella island
To mark the bicentenary of the death of Giuseppe Piermarini, ( Foligno, 18th July 1734 – 18 February 1808), the architect of the Scala opera house in Milan, the Minister for Art and Culture and the “National Committee for the Celebration of the Bicentenary of the Death of Giuseppe Piermarini” have organised a workshop to honour the work of the architect.

Foligno KUADRA pM 01 600x411 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Foligno 1820, drawing courtesy Studio KUADRA

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Drawing courtesy Studio KUADRA

The utopian idea consists of turning back the clock  200 years to rediscover the historic roots of the city plan in 1819. This will then be the starting point for an imaginary urban plan which will provide a modern city capable of offering all the facilities and amenities necessary for the present day. Seven areas of the historic centre have been selected and each assigned to an invited architectural firm . Each sector has to blend the latest concepts in urban development and architecture as well as a “folly” by Piermarini, that is, one of his many undeveloped projects.

Foligno KUADRA pM 05 600x312 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Render courtesy Studio KUADRA

Studio Kuadra was assigned “area 8” with one of Piermarini’s “follies” , a design for a “stylised coffee house” ; a circular building of which only a few plans still exist. A longstanding exhibition in the Centro Arte Contemporanea in Foligno and a catalogue are the results of the workshop.

Foligno KUADRA pM 12 600x312 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Render courtesy Studio KUADRA

The project exploits the chance to build against the city battlements so as to redefine the physical and perceptual boundaries of the area. The concept of an external perimeter was reinforced by creating a bastion which serves both as a small  city park and school building. As a result this emphasises  the sense of protection offered to the inhabitants by the military nature of the construction, while the fortifications have been remodelled for the new buildings and uses required. The entire makes the area extremely accessible.

Foligno KUADRA pM copertina 600x178 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Render courtesy Studio KUADRA

At the summit of the flights of steps, the fortifications have an observation area with a view of the world outside the walls where the city’s skyline can be admired.

Access to vehicles has been restricted to the area around the school. The area around the base of the steps has been converted to a city garden, This will be managed by the school, and ensures the city has  a ready supply of fresh produce in the event of future sieges!  The garden will be an instrument of social and pedagogical development, and a fulcrum for the creation of a community area as well as responding to the ever increasing  demand for nature and breathing space in cities.

Foligno KUADRA pM 13 600x369 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Render courtesy Studio KUADRA

Before the industrial revolution, country and city cohabitated in harmony together, indeed, it can be said that in every phase of western history the development of a city was accompanied by a proportional growth in the parks and market gardens inside the city. This tradition was lost with the industrial revolution, nowadays in cities, cars  have the upper hand.

The last 20 years have seen a revival in the venerable tradition of allotments: that is gardens inserted into the city fabric and assigned to citizens, but owned by an association or the town council. They are worked by amateur gardeners ( in this case the pupils).

Foligno KUADRA pM 09 600x312 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Render courtesy Studio KUADRA

The concept is to rethink the structure of Foligno based on its historic conformation ( a fortified city and urban allotments) to design a more sustainable future.

The stairways enveloping  the “bastion” mean that it is completely accessible at every level and even the summit and outer walls are open to the public. In this light a terrace above the level of the city wall has been created as an observation point with a view of the outside and in particular the city itself.

The “folly” has been provocatively positioned on the summit of the fortifications, in the most exposed point and the most visible, increasing the juxtaposition with the surroundings, a spire jutting into the sky as  in the original plans.

Foligno KUADRA pM 07 600x187 Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia | Studio KUADRA

Section, drawing courtesy Studio KUADRA

The building is supported on a slim winding  framework with an hourglass shape, giving it a perfect balance; an installation in the garden of a modern art museum. Although the building sits atop the fortifications like a lantern, the folly does not interrupt the grassy path running along the city walls as tradition requires. Here this is reinterpreted as a smooth lawn, surrounded by shrubs, it might seem as if it immersed in an orchard; keeping a watchful eye on the gardens lower down.

+ Project credits / data

Project: Designing Foligno : from history to Utopia
Architect: Studio KUADRA | http://www.kuadra.it/
Location: Foligno, Italy

+ All images and drawings courtesy Studio Kuadra

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Category: Architecture, Culture, Master Plan

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