Suspended residences planned for European Snowbirds in Calabre viaducts
A team comprised of OFF architecture, PR Architect (Philippe Rizzotti) and Samuel Nageotte has won the Parco Solar South Competition in the Calabre region of Italy to design Vertical Villages for ‘European Snowbirds’. The term Snowbird applies to inhabitants of more northerly areas who travel south in the winter to avoid the harsh weather and in this case relates to seasonal travellers who may wish to reside in dwellings created within the existing viaducts in Calabre.
The winning coalition decided explore what new possibilities could enhance the value of the area with a ‘rich, efficient and feasible scenario’. These viaducts have intrinsic qualities: the lanes crossing are very well connected as they are former main roads. They were built to cater for a heavy traffic flow and therefore the potential load of the bridges is higher than normal.
A submission by the successful team explains: “The redevelopment of the sites’ viaducts appears as the perfect opportunity to develop the right infrastructure for the accommodation of this new kind of migration. Our intervention upon this original structure in addition to the site’s diverse qualities can potentially lead to a greater excellence than the actual offers. It is then a matter of developing a specific typology that will enhance the residential aspects such as leisure and health centres. It is also necessary to take advantage of all the forces of the site in order to develop an innovative and environmental project.”
The aim of the ‘pile & deck’ structure utilised in the plan is to span as far as possible by using as few materials as possible. The result is a limited impact upon the landscape where it sits relative to the dimensions of the project. The site where those bridges are located has also some inherent qualities. The Tyrrhenian Sea can be perfectly observed and the landscape reviles a natural context carefully preserved. Indeed the site benefits of a complete disconnection from any human intervention apart from the high lines.
Although it may have originated in the East, the citric fruit Bergamot is a Calabrian adoption and has brought much interest and tourism to the region. To flourish, the rare plant requires a moderate climate and due to the prime conditions found in Calabre, 95% of the world’s Bergamot production occurs in this area. Over the years, the viaducts that penetrate the region have become intrinsically linked to the natural landscape, and as such the winning proposal intends to ‘reinforce the viaducts’ existing architectural form in order to keep the impact upon the landscape itself to minimum. This project aims to participate to the evolution of the original viaducts in order to consolidate their original identity’.