Corte interna all’isolato ai Bottari
The Bottari Block courtyard is in the most stratified part of the island of Ortigia, the Greek heart of Syracuse, an ancient Corinthian colony.
It was conceived as part of an organic system of works programmed by the Detailed Town Plan of Ortigia to restore a recuperate the innermost parts of several blocks in the historic town center.
The Bottari quarter is located in the North-West area of the island near the temple of Athens and the remains of the Ionic temple in Palazzo Senatorio. It preserves the original Greek road network although modified by subsequent overlays which respect the internal limits of the ancient blocks. The recomposition enacted by Latina can be summed up as the opening of a pathway of light and air in the heart of an area which has been used, for several decades, primarily as a dump.
This implied, in the first place, the “targeted” demolition of recent constructions.
The project is conceived as an “open” intervention or, better yet, as “sensitive”: architectural fragments hidden below the refuse and recuperated through repossession.
This use of ruins has led to the area to be conceived as a quarry where rediscovered blocks become construction material for the new structure.
The narrow road that passes through the courtyard emphasizes the East-West orientation that characterized the Hippodamean road structure of Syracuse, brought to light during several archaeological campaigns. The road is recognized and claimed to be an act of “refoundation”, as a direct descendent of the narrow roads – the stenopoi – that scanned the ancient system connecting Ronco dei Cassari with via Cavour. In this way the heart of the block is reopened in the direction of its edges.
The stenopos, made with various size slabs of 7 cm thick hard Modica limestone laid in “opus incertum”, intercepts the existing structures and becomes the measure of existing stratifications. It become, by recomposing its fragmentary aspects, a metaphor of the block’s thousands of years of history of. The new ten Greek feet wide (296 millimeters each according to the Doric metric system) path gives order to the irregular structure of the spaces and highlights the different architectural presences.
The pavement of the courtyard, composed of a main area made of 5 cm thick bus hammered Lava Basalt of Monte Lauro, is characterized by the presence of low ramps that connect up the slight level differences of the court. The “seeded” cobbled paving, in the spaces that fill the irregular edge to the buildings that look out on the court, gives structure to a small garden of the stone.
The dammuso (vaulted room) is one of the hidden architectural works come to the surface and dating back to the 15th century. It becomes the hub for crossing the block, making the connection between the new Ronco dei Cassari and the courtyard.
The buttresses and the building facades mark the edge of the area. They maintain the diversified volumes of the building and the formal variety of the surroundings.
The buttresses, worked as a mosaic with blocks of various sizes of golden yellow Sandstone with minimum 15 cm thicknesses and embledded in cyclopean concrete, have a rigorously functional role to consolidate and restore the existing masonry. They also become a memory of the cyclic human and geological events that have characterized the long history of Syracuse. The base of the buttress is made with an edge band of blocks coming from on-site recuperation.
The second phase of work, has concluded in 2004, has connected the Ronco dei Cassari with the Bottari courtyard and completed redefinition of the Bottari Courtyard in this complex urban trasformation of the block.