Urban – Multifunctional – Residential
Client: Europan 15
Status: Special Mention Prize
Location: Visby, SWE
With: Flavio Graviglia, Antonino Zappulla
A tall city-wall enclosing the medieval city, skeletons of ancient churches raising in the squares, an irregular maze of colorful houses shaping the urban fabric. This is the heart of Visby, narrating, through its architecture, a thousand-year-old history. Nevertheless, this narration seems to stop roughly looking outside the city-wall, where detached single-family houses, medium-intensive low-cost slabs, and qualityless malls characterize the urban landscape.
The project site is positioned in the middle of this interstitial space: a hinge place situated between the city-wall park, the mall in proximity of the Österport, and the different models of urban sprawl.
The project defines a strategy to sew up the medieval city and the outer developments through the integration and enhance, within a new mixed district, of the spatial and functional qualities of the urban fabrics currently present in Visby. The new settlement is conceived in continuity with the poetics of the old city, but still capable of accommodating comforts and qualities of contemporary architecture. A wide pedestrian area made up of squares and streets is enliven by ateliers, studios, restaurants, cafes, and shops. Housing develops on this plinth, facing both the bustling public space and the private quiet roof gardens of the courtyards.
A three-storey parking for the 350 lots to relocate within the site is designed within the belly of the big central block, while additional parking spaces for new constructions are planned at level -1. This parking system – together with a network of pedestrian and restricted access streets – allows for a foot navigation of the district, through the commercial area and Österväg, to the gate and the old city. A new lively square is carved in front of the entrance of the existing mall. A hybrid building devoted to food culture and local production is envisaged on the opposite side. The square extends inside the publicized interior space of the hybrid building that hosts a food hall with farmer’s market. Its second floor hosts a food forum with educational center and cooking school. The greenhouse roof is intended as a vegetable garden with fruit trees meant for small scale agriculture and didactic activities. Within the same building the inhabitants produce, learn, consume and enjoy.
The integration of different typologies and functions within the project site allows for the development of a synergy between activities that guarantee 24/7 vitality. Shared productive spaces and home-work integration or proximity are key points of the design, being the basis of a district grounded on the new economy and sustainability. Circular local circuits are encouraged by a combination of functions that spans from vegetables/fruit self-production to plastic collection and recycling. Against this background, leisure acquires a fundamental role to attract young workers, couples, and creatives turning the area in a hip place.
In a short distance a high density of functions is assured, direct street control is diffused and secluded dark areas are avoided. The green system acquires a fundamental role in the project. The green belt that surrounds the city-wall is widened within the project site and extended as a tentacle through Österväg, allowing to enhance the street section and regain the perspective axis on the basis of the ancient gate. The urban scenery of Österport is enriched through the relocation of the taxi station in a new building able to emphasize the perspective axis of Österväg and to give more continuity between the old city and the new expansions.
The project aims to keep alive the memory and allure of the ancient city, adapting to the contemporary standards, to the new economy, and to sustainability requirements. The urban qualities that characterized the beauty of the ancient city for centuries won’t stay just as the memory of a majestic past, but will become the foundation of a new, Great Visby.