One Etna North

Othmane Kandri
London Metropolitan University, Department of Architecture and Spatial Design, London
United Kingdom

Project idea

Mount Etna and the volcanic area of North-Eastern Sicily has been capturing people’s imagination since ancient times and has throughout history not only been about fire and fury but also a popular travel destination. Due to extensive seismic activity in the region the terrain is challenging, from the steep hill towns like Taormina, the majestic and fertile landscape of Mount Etna, to the Messina Straight to the Capo di Milazzo Sicily’s Northern point. Throughout history, buildings and infrastructure have been integrated into the extreme topography conditioned by the available building material, survey techniques and construction methods, where traditionally, civil engineering, infrastructure and architecture have become one and the same and it is this condition that this project would like to explore. Furthermore, the project is continuing its interest in 3D scanning, drone photography, Virtual Reality and game engine technology as augmented tools to engage more directly with the extreme topography and textural conditions of this complex context. We deploy VR not only as an immersive representational opportunity, but also as a design apparatus permitting design experimentation using 3D painting inspired by Pablo Picasso’s experiments with Light Painting and 3D modelling and compositing in 1st person view.

Project description

The project strives for an architecture adapted to both the natural landscape, extreme topography, and the climate but with character and unique qualities springing from both design technique and a meticulous exploitation of the local volcanic and timber materials used in combination with emerging technology. The hybrid material condition, augmented by our proposed design technique, allows us to appropriate the complexity of our terrain and texture of the context in a different way. It aims to re-discover new grounds for architectural representation and design. The aim is to develop a re-generative and resilient architecture for our time giving back more to the environment than it costs it. In our current predicament, it is not sufficient to be sustainable but we have to go further and proactively work on conditions and an architecture that is capable of regenerate our natural and built environment. This proposed architecture is capable of transforming an existing situation, adaptable to future change and able to incorporate technological inventions and innovation that support resilient lifestyles and environmental technology. The museum aims to design a new type of bioclimatic architecture adapted to the extreme climate, topography and cultural landscape of North-eastern Sicily in the vicinity of Mount Etna. Also the brief not only calls for a climatically smart architecture, but also to exploit emerging media, conduct design experiments and develop the use of local material and resources in developing an ecological architecture.

Technical information

I’m proposing to investigate formal and material systems that affect the behaviour of a natural system. Form, in this case, is directly an issue of “organized complexity” of systems within systems i.e. form is directly depended on complex relationships between elements of a system when seen within a larger system or context/environment. Also attempting to go beyond singular and self-similar systems to explore hybrid systems and the amalgamation of conditions, material assemblies, representational techniques and phenomena that generate unforeseen behaviours. The project aim to make a disciplinary contribution in how the smart use of engineered and refined steel is bound to change our building industry and the way we conceive both of architecture and cities. The project is deploying a host of digital tools and techniques for both design modelling, fabrication and manufacturing in architectural projects. The project outcome is assessed primarily from juried situations both for its rigour, instrumentality, novelty and for its design qualities. In fact all the development is focus on the design of a single roof shell structure, to bring natural light in the inside and with high performance secondary structures. Also very interesting the possibility of the interaction with the surrounding environment producing an external landscape design a zero carbon energy trough Eolic turbines and solar panels. The development of three main building with the design of a new infrastructural connection between the existing environment create a strong duality and a new adaptation to an extreme topography. The building in this case become not an impact but the central point for the tourism activity in the volcano



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