Re-Imagining the Centium Turrium

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Re-imagining the Centium Turrium

Filippo Imberti


The project addresses the redevelopment of a disused seaplane hangar located in the Italian town of Pavia. The site is adjacent to a bend in the Ticino river, on the edge of the historic center. Previously the location operated as a base along a flight path route connecting Turin to Trieste in the 1920’s. The building fell into disrepair and despite several attempts to rehabilitate the structure it remains abandoned.
Historically Pavia was known as the “centium turrium” due to the abundance of towers within the city. These structures represented the power and wealth of noble families, the higher the tower the more prestigious the family. Pavia, like all Roman settlements is constructed upon a regular orthogonal grid which develops from two primary axes. This urban pattern has divided the city into rectilinear blocks which were previously privately owned and often characterized by the construction of towers.
The HUB is a center for management and organization that offers shared spaces 24 hours a day. Accordingly, the facility must be a working platform but also accommodate social elements such as project development, idea sharing and meetings. Multi-functional enclosed volumes populate the interior and determine the spaces between them. These elements are orientated according to the city grid instead of the river. The volumes accommodate functions such as meeting rooms, conference facilities, workshops and activities requiring a higher level of privacy.



What dictated your choice of graphic language?

Graphically I wanted to represent a sense of timelessness relating to the past whilst at the same time producing something which can clearly be identified as contemporary. Accordingly, I chose a mix of rendering techniques in an effort to reproduce the reality of the project with characters and textures inspired by historic references.

What is the importance and relevance of the grid as a structure nowadays?

I believe the grid provides a framework for the design process which balances measurement and proportion precisely without giving priority to one element or another. Without the balance of this system a project could lack a unified identity or maintain a continuous language.

To what extent is the tower a vertical translation of the horizontal grid condition?

The grid as a tool for organizing space dictates the geometry of the city on an urban scale. This system allows for the vertical extraction of volumes thus creating complexity in the composition of the urban environment. The architectural vanguards of the early 20th century demonstrated that the grid itself is the expression of the three dimensional condition of a space.

What is the effect and purpose behind the choice of silhouettes?

The Greek and Roman characters were chosen because they relate to the monumental language of the project’s context. With regards to the sea plane project, the characters were chosen because they are timeless and do not represent any social class or age group.

You deny to show the smaller working spaces, why so?

I believe the most interesting spaces in the project are the inverse of the working areas. They are flexible and fluid depending on the demand of the users. Conversely the internal volumes are rigid and contain defined programs which are inherently private, by choosing not to show these spaces the idea of privacy is underlined.

The last image of Pavia Towers greatly differentiates itself in graphic style from the others, why so?

The image is designed to explain one element of the design process using the unique morphology of Pavia. It is both a retrospective observation and a potential future condition for the city based on the structure of the place itself.




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