europan8


open international ideas competition, September, 2005
Chiampo, Italy

Bajsz Edit, Cservenyák Eszter, Kiss Ida, Kovács Gergely,
Matúz Melinda, Molnár Judit, Németh Tamás, Szabó P. Nándor

submitted panels

Urbanity and nature

Urban density as a catalyst to the evolution of a new nature

The situation of the site raised the possibility of an unseen process in point of the growth of a small town. Instead of an extensive growth, in this case we can talk about the intensification of a plot outside the urban area. To establish a new part of town which is built up the same way as if it were inside, is senseless. A district phisically detached from the body of the densely inhabited areas needs a different approach.
One of the main points that makes it necessary is that, due to its position (and also the demands raised by the municipality), the urban functions have to be integrated with other, recreational functions.
On the other hand, one has to recognize that the penetration of nature by the built environment has already started by the rural landscape that surrounds the city on the slopes of the mountains. In areas like this, built environment, artificial green and genuine nature is so well interlocked that it's impossible to mark the exact borders of them. Yet, in the early stage of our analysis, we can divide such cathegories, but only to illustrate the situation.
The demand of inhabitation of natural green areas never come together with the will to give up all the urban infrastructure one has got used to. Ones who migrate out of the dense cities always demand quite much of these, and not only the basic supplies like clear water, electricity etc. but, if possible, other conveniences they were supplied by the urban environment. And this comes along with the will to live in touch with nature.
The key moments in a process like this, is the measure of densification, the sensitive balance between built and green environments, and the efficiency of the infrastructural, social and ecological network that makes it a whole. Physically, a green environment can tolerate footmark-like urbanity if density is substituted with networking. Thus an exceedingly high life quality can be reached. If the densification becomes too high, the area can lose its attraction given by its green attribute. If the interior networks or the connection to the urban centre fall apart, then the urban attribute is lost.

Artificial landscape - what to do with it?

Recovery of environments like quarries always raise the question how and at what measure should nature be restored in them. Human civilization has transformed the environment so much and for so long time, especially in densely inhabited countries that it is hard to tell which plot of land can be considered as genuine. Thus, we think that it is ambiguous how to relate to a strongly transformed area as a quarry. A quarry does not place extraneous elements to the environment, rather takes away from it, leaving a hole and a pile made of part of the material excavated.
To try to restore and pretend it is nature is dishonest. To try to use it in a new way that will not continue exploitation of the land but neither will try to restore what can not be restored is the appropriate attitude.


Morphologic attributes

Measure of different kinds of environment - built, artificial, natural

The programme for the Chiampo site for Europan 8 primarily aims to redevelop the former marble quarries and surroundings in the property of Prudenza srl, on the slopes above the town. For us, this raised the question of the attitude we should follow when building in a landscape like this. The first method of analysis we followed was to examine the measure of different kinds of environment.
As built environment we consider buildings and roads. Artificial landscape in this approach are either agricultural areas or quarries, city parks, reservoirs, anything that can be considered as something that transforms existing landscape but does not use totally extraneous elements. Natural areas are meant to be affected not at all or on a highly restrained measure by human activities.
Of course, the borders of these cathegories are hard to define, they are approximate. The measure of these varies much in different areas on earth.
Urban landscape, as an extremity from this point of view, does not at all contain natural elements. A desert or huge forestal areas, for example, are even more homogenous plots. A rural landcsape, on the other hand, can be the most heterogenous in this approach. The slopes above Chiampo represent mostly this kind of situation. A network of small built elements, spread in a partly agricultural, partly natural landscape. One of our main questions was how to relate to this.

Topography - valleys and mountains

Historically, dense inhabited areas and main routes in mountains took place mostly in valleys. This had qiute simple reasons, some of these are easier approach, the difficulties of building on steep slopes etc. The relatively new demand on inhabitation of these areas could take place because of the decline of these bounds. In addition, the fact that main roads also lie down in these valleys means that all the traffic goes through the centre of these mountain villages and towns, which puts too much load on these settlements and worsens the quality of life in them. This problem can also be solved by now, as it is possible to lead these routes in uninhabited areas.
Thus, Chiampo faces these problems. First of all, how to extend the town fabric towards the mountains. The end of industrial activities create a possibility to inhabit new plots, and create a new part of the town in a green area. Secondly, how to extend the road system to redeem the town from the load of transitional traffic. Chiampo wants to get rid of the traffic of the still working quarries that transport their products through the centre. Thirdly, what new connections can be established towards other municipalities surrounding (i.e. San Giovanni Ilarione) and how to improve the interior road system of the slopes, mainly towards and between the newly used areas around the former quarries.

Inhabit nature

As stated above, the analised area is a heterogenous field, somewhere between urban and natural. It is close to the inhabited area but immersed in nature.
We think, the present balance of built and natural should be kept in the area and rather be taken as an advantage. This means that instead of a bigger, concentrated settlement, we placed the new structures in a loose but efficient network of footmarks. This can result in that we can be in touch with the green yet do not have to give up all the advantages of urban life and infrastructure. The only key is the balance.

Public structures - network of small plots

The pits' areas are the least genuine points in the area, that is why it is obvious to place public functions, like hotel, museum, etc. in them. On the other hand, their landmark-like attribute also confirms this. These functions can do with a higher density as the most urban-like functions.
Our relation to these pits and the affect they made on landscape is more permissive as the usual point of view. The attitude we follow when thining about them is to keep the present state as much as possible, because it takes more effort to try to repair the so-called scars they mean than to adopt to the situation and reform their environment in a way that they can be livable. This is to apply to the spoil as well. The spoils are mostly reconquered by nature by now, their removal makes another scar on the landscape, which is not favourable from our point of view.

Residential structures - means of buiding high quality in a green landscape

Housing in a green area comes from the demand on living out of the dense urban areas, but at the same time, not too far from them. Intensive housing estates are unwanted in a situation like we are in. We think only single family houses, alone or in small groups with effective network of infrastructure are reasonable. This way the demand of the future inhabitants for quality life meets the advantage that the landscape can get from not getting crowded by human life.


Roads and traffic

External connections - bypass, connections

One of the biggest present problems of the town of Chiampo is the transitional traffic from the quarries north from the town towards regional centres. The bypass road proposed in former development plans, however, goes too close to the area of the study area, which is not in accordance with the new, recreational functions. Thus, we decided to push the line of the road out to the limits of the municipality, at the upper border of the study area.
The development of the existing road network also gives a possibility to connect adjacent valleys. In our case, establishment of lateral approaches through the mountains could connect Chiampo to S. Giovanni Ilarione.
The area can be most easily connected to Chiampo through two routes, one of them goes through the Vignaga district..

Internal connections - internal network

The new developed areas need also internal road network, especially for a way of settlement we have chosen. The connection towards the city and a horizontal way that connect different parts of the development is necessary.
It has to be independent from the main road that supports transitional traffic. It is also necessary to detach car traffic from bicycle and pedestrian routes as much as possible, to keep the advantages of being in nature for hikers and bikers and not to distrub the recreational function of the area.


Functions

Lovara pit

The refurbishment of Lovara pit is based on a simple human aproach of artificial enviroment. The aim is to keep the atmosphere of the quarry and transform it to a naturally urbanized space.

Spaces:

-urbanized space: in the northern part of the pit the genuine limestone surfaces form a natural square, we would like to keep this characteristics and emphasize it in an urban way. Therefore we planed this natural square more human not more natural. Practically it means the different kind of polishing and arranging of the surfaces which finally forms a differenciated space with its junctions to the other part of the pit.
-natural space: mostly the southern part of the pit and almost all the borders. We kept the naturally evolved enviroment and made it suitable for human use, which is true also for the other sides of the pit, the difference is in the tools. In this part we only built the possibility of human movements and did not difine these.
-transitional spaces: these are the spaces which join physichally the others together.

Objects:

-gate: It is a sign. Sign of the whole area from the town, the only built object which is visible from there. shows the human activity on the facing slope and draws the attention on the site. It is the sign of the respect for human activity in its similarly agressive behaviour. It is a gate to the pit, leads from an extraordinary aproach to the square and shows it from human view. It is a museum of quarrying which faces the town and the residential area on the oposite site of the pit and makes a visual connection in between the town and the new district.
-pavilions: An infobox on the urbanized square and a cafe on the lakeside, both of them built in the stonewalls.
-hotel: On the southern end of the pit, set on the slope, near to the lake conected to the natural space mostly visually with an upper view on the whole pit.

Residential areas

Exploring the nature of the built structures over the hills of Chiampo is the basis of the defined pattern of the settlement. There are three residential zones placed along the study area. The one sitting above the Lovara pit is the most dense between the woods. The second under Cengelle quarry is situated on a light slope with a view over the city and the third is by Porto quarry where clear, flat meadows can be found in the forests. The three sites can be easily reached from the town of Chiampo by car on different routes. As trucks and heavyweight vehicles are lead on a separate road so that the inhabitants are not disturbed. The different sites are linked by foot and bicycle route so that the whole area can be easily explored thus helping the development of the everyday social life. The different zones and houses this way are not isolated though they behave like small islands floating in the green hills.