Chiara Erhardt & Luca Steinert

Chiara Erhardt & Luca Steinert

ritrova.riesi. RWTH Aachen (Germany)

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EAP 2021 Chiara Erhardt  EAP 2021 Luca Steinert

Known for its former sulfur mining industry, today Riesi (Sicily) is one of the places in Italy experiencing a high level of emigration and facing vacancies. Thus, from about 20,400 inhabitants in 1930, about 10,000 inhabitants are registered in the town in 2020. After two years of research in Riesi, we formulated our central question in 2020: What contribution can architecture offer as a component for possible action strategies for a shrinking city?

It became clear that architectural designs in dealing with abandoned buildings must be embedded in an overall strategy in order to have an effect “beyond themselves”. During our “dérive” through Riesi, we divided the findings of our field research into an objective and subjective analysis to explore the form and the content of the city. We analysed and represented recurring characteristics of places in “spaces of similarity”. From these fragments we developed a guiding principle that can systematically function as a future action strategy. We called this system, which connects all the investigations of our research, “Oasis”. As an analogy, it bundles these “spaces of similarity” and findings of the objective analysis. In the next step, we chose two culturally significant, abandoned buildings in the city center, each to propose a new use that would provide a strengthening impulse for the city centre. As a mediator between landscape and city, the Cineteatro Italia strengthens the historic centre with its surrounding district. The aim of the second intervention at Palazzo Cappadona was to make the historical value of the palazzo visible again and, through an addition, to turn an element of the city centre into an interactive, public space. These two designs internalise the guiding principle of the oasis in their spatial programme making the content and form of the city visible and tangible in one place.

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