The challenge of this project was to preserve and increase the existing values of the architecture and nature of the city of Roccascalegna, therefore the entire project was conceptualized around the idea of serving to these two important potentials of the area. The program of the observatory houses, similarly as the urban structure of the village, is spread in a grid, elevated from the ground, to protect the existing vegetation and not disturb the wildlife existing on the hill, below the fortress. The grid is a light, modular structure which does not require excavations of the ground, fulfilling the most important ethic of intervention in architectural heritage – reversibility of the intervention. The new intervention stays quiet without interfering with resonance of the fortress as a non-invasive approach but in contrary it complies with its history and story. The new architectural intervention will increase values of the fortress and the village in general, and will accelerate the tourism offering an inexperienced journey through legends and history of the village while creating “a story composed by stars, silences and landscapes”.
The grid itself and the order of observatory spaces were inspired by the tectonic order the village and their adaptation to the architecture of the castle. Moreover, simplicity of the architectural design is based on the idea of adapting to the existing structure and nature while quietly creating a symbiosis between the old and new.
The accessibility to the fortress of Roccascalegna, besides the preserved, existing routes are created through new added ramps which are extended parallel to the fortress, providing new perspective points towards the castles’ structure and surrounding nature which could not be experienced previously. The added value of architecture and nature (views) through journeys in the ramp will create the sense of meditation and spirituality for visitors. Moreover, the ramp path will solve the problem of accessibility to the castle with regard to age or disability. Intermediate plateaus were introduced during the path to provide tourists with viewpoints where they can enjoy the route and their individual perception and not just the final destination – the fortress.
The required program is divided in the public part (the most visited program) located inside the walls of the fortress while the private parts of the program (the observatory ensemble) are located in the grid. The additional functions (sky lounge) inside the fortress are carefully designed considering the fragility of the castle and quietly showing their presence in respect to the existing formations, with transparent, reversible structure which do not rely on the existing structure of the castle. In the honor of villages’ vivid legend of the barons’ bloody handprint, the plateau in front of the entrance is painted in red, at the point where the fallen western tower used to be.
The houses are spread comfortably throughout the grid creating privacy for tourists staying for the nights. Special plateaus were introduced as space for campers to set their tents. The majority of observatory spaces are accessed from the ramps at the back leaving them with full view of the sky and the surrounding nature. Space inside the observation houses is plain, leaving the architecture take individual spiritual perception and give attention to the most important emotion – the stars and the sky. This relation is manifested with the presence of big openings and intermediate spaces such as big loggias and rooftops.