LIGHT IS MORE – AUT–AUT

architects_ aut–aut
team_ gabriele capobianco, edoardo capuzzo dolcetta, jonathan lazar
year_ 2016
location_ siracusa, italy
type_ competition (YAC Competitions)
award_ third prize

from the architects_
The project proposes a strategy of intervention based on several considerations regarding both the local context and the way of approaching heritage in a wider perspective.
The lighthouses have always exerted a precious territorial power, indicating the presence of a geomorphology hostile to navigation. This condition often denotes a specular implication: the natural limit to the expansion of the built environment. Magical natural atmospheres and inviolate landscapes characterise these suggestive territories. Zooming in on the Plemmirio peninsula, notwithstanding the natural marine reserve, we encounter a rather intense anthropization made of single family vacation houses untidily dotting the inner area and the southern coast: illegal developments – carried out ignoring (often non sufficient) regulations – are by now part of the built environment. On the contrary, due to both geomorphological reasons and to the presence of the Navy area of the lighthouse, the extremity of the peninsula resisted urbanisation.

We consider this absence of construction as being part of the heritage as much as the buildings present on site, hence we have decided to stick as much as possible to the “Program of valorisation” edited by the state property office (Demanio) within the “Valore Paese Fari” project. This document endorses non-invasive interventions, denying the possibility of adding new buildings on the plot, constituting an important normative resource able to safeguard the territory while making available a precious heritage in decay.
The opportunity of exploiting the lighthouse of Murro di Porco must be yet more supported by a still economically viable strategy. Therefore we propose a binary program. On the one hand the buildings are transformed into a Relais&Chateaux-like facility, hosting a restaurant in the lighthouse building (excluding the lantern tower that will be kept by the Navy) and three hotel suites in the two other constructions. On the other hand the project envisions an acupunctural landscape intervention which seeks for the rediscovery of existing paths, facilitating the navigation through natural and archeological landmarks along the coast and foreseeing
its possible extendibility beyond the plot’s limits.

For what concerns the refurbishment of the existing buildings, we acknowledge that these emergences have been absorbed by the harsh surrounding nature, being now part of it. Therefore we propose a light architectural approach. Firstly it envisages a conservative restoration able to stop the decay and secure the structures, while not hiding the current level of deterioration. All the non-original extensions are kept, nevertheless some of the walled up windows are reopened. The interior of the restaurant and of the adjacent first suite keeps the original load bearing structure and is further articulated through the introduction of a second layer of partitions opportunely distinguished.

The new program is denounced by the presence of white metal frames added on top of the buildings. These light structures make the roofs usable, thanks to the stairs they provide and to the possibility of adding traditional fabric drapes as shading devices. In this way each hotel room includes a private lifted terrace, where intimacy is granted. The landscape intervention foresees the punctual addition of two main artifacts: steel platforms and minimal railings. These elements are positioned in specific arduous sites in order to facilitate the walkability. They are also intended to highlight the landmarks of the site both on dry land and in water, such as sea-geysers, marine caves, archeological sites and diving spots.

To conclude, we claim that our proposal offers a light, suitable strategy to give value to the lighthouse of Murro di Porco and its priceless environment. A high standard – even posh – lodging facility, able of being economically viable without the need of any additional construction, allows for the safeguard of the territory and its fruition by different visitors.