Airas Sánchez, Qianer Zhu
ETH Zurich: ETH Zurich Faculty of Architecture (D-ARCH), Zürich

Project idea

Housing in a Fenced-off Heritage
The history of the city of Pula, a city located in Croatia, dates back to Roman times. Nowadays, the ancient Amphitheatre, a leftover from those long-forgotten times, represents the main attraction for tourists. They, after the Croatian city lost its industrial strength and struggled to maintain economically stable, are the main financial crutch for the city. And so, the ancient structure has become a FENCED-OFF SITE tourist can pay to enter. This is a way of dealing with a heritage that can be seen with many world heritage sites like this one. In our opinion, the Amphitheatre of Pula now is a dead monument with little connection to civic life. With this exercise, we took the theoretical opportunity to alter this Roman heritage. With our proposal, we would like to give the amphitheater back to the city - reinhabiting it, and converting it into an active part in the civic fabric. Thus, the program of HOUSING is introduced in order to reuse the space in a contemporary way and give the ancient ruin an active role in the lives of the people of Pula.

Project description

Plan Study
To inhabit the enclosed space in the Amphitheatre, we first made a study of the geometry of the oval PLAN - a construction which was invented by the Romans - and created a series of public spaces besides the dense amount of apartments according to it. Daily civic infrastructure such as bike parking and mailboxes are organized on the ground floor, with shops, cafes, restaurants, and ateliers facing the middle "forum". Through a promenade of stairs, the forum is connected to the upper floors, where 4m wide elevated "STREETS IN THE SKY" run around the oval structure. They can be appropriated by the inhabitants, and used by the visitors as well for watching shows inside the forum or going to the roof garden. Thus, the building creates a more direct connection between inhabitants and visitors.

Section Study
To inhabit the old wall, we developed the housing units starting from the section, in order to find again a human scale on the monumental verticality of the wall. Through the clash of the different scales, we were able to find different qualities in space going up the wall, each of them relating to the ancient ruin in a different way. In the end, we developed a system of housing units where two units are always intertwined, providing THREE DIFFERENT SECTIONS: a single- height section with the private sleeping chambers, a double-height section for living, and a section providing light with a vertical courtyard.

Technical information

One and a Half Arches
Each apartment opens up to one and a half arches of the wall. One full-height arch frames the view from the double-height living room and a half arch is used for the single-height bedroom, creating a more intimate space. The floor heights vary according to a study of the existing wall structure in relation to different spatial qualities and possible ways of construction.

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