Building stock, constructions, new buildings. The re-use of urban material that changes the architectural fabric and set-up of a city is increasingly topical, especially in big cities where the suburbs and the so called urban edges are being reclaimed and redesigned.
The topic was discussed by Bernard Khoury, a Lebanese architect who during his design career has strongly and dramatically experienced a relationship with existing buildings in war devastated Beirut; Piuarch, a firm whose feature is to work on building stock by means of true “design surgery” projects; Park Associati who have worked in some projects on the architectural reclamation of urban edges.
Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury described his experience in Beirut since 1991, after the war. In those years Khoury was completing his education and when he had to decide what he wanted to do, he decided to reclaim buildings doomed to be demolished.
This project, called evolving scars, managed in some cases to turn this dramatic issue into a new urban development. By preserving the memory and going back to the roots of a project. As is the case of the Centrale project in Beirut, a restaurant recovered from a public building in the city centre of the capital of Lebanon, where this reconstruction meant acknowledging the value that a building had in the past.
According to Piuarch, context is always fundamental: in every project, architecture must be in line with the place and must establish some exchange with its surrounding space. Within this framework, Francesco Fresa described also the genesis of installation Punti di Vista (Viewpoints), in the main courtyard of the University in these days: the reference of this project were the columns, arches, the structure of the Ca’ Granda University projected into a contemporary world.
Architecture should be looked at with a kaleidoscope view, with constantly changing viewpoints that take into account not only the place but also the historical architectural heritage. In the Quattro Corti project in Saint Petersburg, the reference was exactly the historical architectural heritage of the city: inner courtyard, the various colours of the buildings, well-lit interiors, articulated roofs integrated in the urban context.
Filippo Pagliani and Michele Rossi (Park Associati), opened their speech quoting Marguerite Yourcenar: “The cities carry the stigmas of time, occasionally the promises of future ages”. And they stated that building stock is a resource to be examined, rethinking buildings also according to new, more contemporary, parameters, such as for example energy standards.
Their project La Serenissima in Via Turati, Milan, a modern movement architecture by the Soncini brothers, is based on these concepts: the building is integrated in the building stock (adjacent Ca’ Bruta) and maintains its original setup, including the redesigned and preserved courtyard garden. Or the Salewa Headquarters in Bolzano, that revived a peripheral area of the city. This project, for a company that works with the mountains and mountaineering, could only have an appropriate exchange with the environment (in this case, the landscape) and produce more energy than it consumes.
Different stories, different yet similar and complementary projects in the search for architectural contaminations in building stock, where the use of urban constructions has become an item for exchanging views and ideas.
Text by Danilo Signorello – photos by Efrem Raimondi