ART PRISON, THE CULTURE CENTRE AND RESTAURANT, FAVIGNANA ISLAND, ITALY

Competition project (Young Architects Competitions) implemented in a group of several people, further for the first semester of master’s studies continued as a part of the course “Conservation design” in a two-person team.

lOCATION

The title ‘Art Prison’ is located on the Italian Favignana island which is a part of  the Aegadian Islands situated in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is located
in the region of Sicily, and its highest peak is Monte Santa Caterina with a height of 314 metres above sea-level where the fortress, which was the subject of the project is located.

This land has witnessed many wars and has a rich history.  Studying it was the first step towards the establishment of a concept of this project. This island was already inhabited in the Paleolithic.

In 241 BC,during the First Punic War, the battle between the Roman and Carthaginian fleet ended with the victory of the Romans on the sea surrounding Favignana. After the fall of the Empire, the island was plundered by pirates, and in 4 AD conquered by the Byzantines. Because of internal conflicts, the region witnessed further warfare. Fortifications on the hill, originally created as Saracen’s watch-tower in the Middle Ages, were partially destroyed and strengthened in the further history. The main configuration of the castle is the result of the Norman occupation. The Bourbon dynasty is responsible for the final appearance of the fortress. In later times, the castle was also a prison. This fact served as the main inspiration at the stage of creating the idea of the project.

The landscape extending from the Santa Caterina hill is a picturesque sea washing the banks carved by nature. Panorama that allows you to see both the sunrise and the sunset is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful views that we can experience here. Favignana is willingly visited by tourists, mainly due to its unique character and relatively good accessibility. The island is situated between Trapani and Marsala where we can easily travel from Favignana by means of ferries. The hill divides the land into two parts – more urbanized with the village of Favignana, and the other – wild and more inaccessible.

Currently, the road to the fortress, which is located 2,5 km away from city, is paved with a stone, on which you can walk or cycle. It takes about 40-60 min to cover this distance.

In economic terms, the city develops thanks to tourism and tuna fisheries. The aspect of fish processing is deeply rooted in the island’s tradition. Once, in this region fish were caught in an original, distinctive way, now with the advances in technology it has changed.

On the island there were also obtained volcanic tuffs, as a local material for building houses, which is why we can meet the remains of quarries.

 

As a part of the course project, we developed a fragment of a larger concept, which was originally a competition project under the YAC (Young Architects Competitions). The topic of ‘Art Prison’ was predetermined by the organizer. This place was to be transformed into a museum-cultural complex, enlarged by hotel facilities and restaurants. The fortress was converted into a museum and an atelier for artists who could work on their creativity in peace and quiet. In the object there is also a hotel. To the main entrance lead both existing stairs and a designed elevator. The second entrance, from the side of the building from 20th century, is dedicated for the guests renting rooms located in the castle. Guests can also stay at the hotel in small apartments in the form of cubes, that were designed like a prison cell. They are equipped only with a place to sleep and a small bathroom. Their form developed through the analysis of insolation and view frames. The building from the 20th century which dimensions are approx.10x15m was converted into the centre of culture and the place of administration. The only major interference in the existing context was the two-storey restaurant, which in the outline on the upper storey (mezzanine) repeats the outline of the existing building. At the lower level, it is increased by half of this module, which allowed to create an intimate restaurant for visiting guests. Its interior is enriched with an important accent for local residents, namely tuna. The roof of the restaurant is adapted for guests and it serves as an observation point.

The cultural centre includes: exhibition hall, workshop room and two conference rooms – small and large. By design, the facility is adapted to a small number of guests, so that you can keep the atmosphere of peace and quiet. Both parts are connected with one another with a staircase and an elevator built into a fragment of an existing building.

STOREY PLANS AND OVERHEAD VIEW

SECTION AND ELEVATIONS

EXTERIOR VISUALIZATION

The interior of the cultural centre was designed in the spirit of ascetic peace and prison character. Accents of prison cells are also visible in the interior design of the restaurant, but due to the function of the space, this area has been given a warmth with wooden elements, namely cladding on the wall and pillars, and furniture. The restaurant has been ‘stuck’ into the rock, and the part of the elevation  above it is not glazed. The surroundings are reflected from the windows so that its facade is non-invasive to the context of the place. The construction is intact in the existing building. Only the partition walls were demolished, which allowed to create larger spaces and improve communication between them. The reinforced concrete structure has reinforcement in the foundation, which is restrained in the ground with chemical anchors. The building has a glass facade system that ensures low visibility of window frame elements, thanks to which it was possible to obtain the effect of a large glass panel, without any conspicuous divisions. From the roof level we can use a footbridge in order to get to the level of the entrance to the fortress. Under above mentioned footbridge, there is a terrace located on the roof of the extended part of the restaurant.