Many Uses, One Factory
Pazienza De Renzio Architetti, Vito D’Attoma, Domenico Fioriello, Davide Bertugno, Valentina Vacca, Martina Ottaviano, Giuseppe Clemente, Silvia de Mauro, Marcello Belviso & Tuan Triggiani
The aim of the project is to improve the current conditions of the building including a masterplan for the mobility in the whole neighbourhood. The new complex would include offices for CNR, a market, restaurants, bars and a kindergarten. The first intention is to create in front of the manifattura a wide open square with an underground car park on two floors for the inhabitants and for the customers of the new shops. Some elements have been added on the building in order to create new lifts and stairs. These additions are characterized by a steel structure with wide windows beside it. The open spaces are thought to become green spaces for groups in order to create relationships between the different functions.
This is definitively a new kind of common space, unusual for this part of Bari.
Who influences you graphically?
Whenever we face with a new project, one of the key aspects of the creative process is to find the tools and the style of depiction most prone to showing its peculiarities.
Just for assumption, using photorealistic images is the best strategy when you work for a single client, who wants a truthful picture of what the architect is creating. On the contrary, in architectural competitions, the best proposal has the ability to convey the idea clearly to citizens and the idea has to remain immaterial and ethereal like a painting by definition.
In this case, we have drawn from the atmospheres of Edward Hopper’s paintings, where cities and architecture are portrayed in compositions with cold and sharp lights, with just some succinct details.
We also got influenced by films and TV series that showed in their photography and framing some of the aspects that we want to replicate in our drawings. Actually, we are very fond of the perfect symmetry and the piercing perspective of Wes Anderson’s framing, as we love the disquieting atmosphere of some French TV series, like Les Revenants by Fabrice Gobert.
From a strictly architectural point of view, another important reference were the neo-classical representations by Ledoux and Boullée, in which bird’s-eye views are used to represent the unity of large enclosures derived from the monastic typology.
Recently there has been a growth in the appropriation of figures of Magrittes’ paintings, why so? What is the reason of using these silhouettes within your images?
We took the figure of the man by shoulders from a Magritte’s painting called La reproduction interdite. It represents a man, visible only from behind, looking at himself in a mirror. The paradox of this painting is that the mirror does not reflect his face but his back. This means that we cannot know the identity and the characteristics that make the figure portrayed a specific individual because the painting shows just a man, one for all. The choice to put this figure in the perspective of the central court of our project is due to the will of objectify subjectivity. As Erwin Panofsky says in his essay Perspective as Symbolic Form, the perspective makes mathematical rules depending on visual impressions and subject’s position. In this image, we are trying to represent a space that is conceived on a human scale and that provokes in all those who are enjoying it the sensation of being in a space not isotropic, but with a privileged point of view.
How important is to reveal the project from both an inclusive (perspective) to exclusive (aerial) point of view?
Representation from two different points of view is a choice that aims to explain completely the project. The perspectival representation provides a subjective view of space, suggesting psychophysical conditions that environment inspires in those who cross it and live in it. This choice is a good compromise between showing the idea of the project (aerial) and considering the way in which people could perceive the building (perspective). An exclusive point of view, as that of the aerial or axonometric view, highlights more technical aspects of the intervention, such as volume, proportions and relations, making clearer the whole project.
What dictated the choice of drawings you use to explore the proposal?
During each competition, it comes a time when you have to look at the white board, asking yourself how many views of the project are necessary and how much space is good to devote to the drawings. The aim is always to let the project speak for itself. Often, rather than a choice, the final product is the result of chance, intuition and improvisation.
In this case, we preferred all the views and drawings that allowed us to highlight the character of the building of the Manifattura, which looks like a large enclosure of monastic origin. The aim of the different representations was to make visible the cuts and the insertions that have been the subject of our design operation, showing a substantial uniformity in the facades’ treatment in all points of discontinuity.
What is the potential of this project acting as a model for other refurbishments within the particular area of Bari?
From the beginning, our challenge was to find a meeting point between the starting condition of the area and the new functions connected with science that had to be placed in this edifice.
The building of former Manifattura Tabacchi in Bari is located in an urban fabric with social issues: densely inhabited, the district in which the project takes place does not offer spaces for public use; statistics show also a low level of people’s education and employment. The recovery of a big construction like this gives back to the city new spaces for inhabitants and the improvement of architectural quality activates a process of “gentrification”, whose effects are not confined to urban but involve also social context. An “injection of architecture”, that starts from recovering the existing buildings avoiding the consumption of soil, can improve the quality of city spaces and the conditions of its citizens.
We have reached a point of saturation within the city, how important is it to work with the infrastructure that already exists and re invent it?
We live in an age in which buildings’ shape and function may not be eternal, due to social and economic changes that quickly follow one another. For these reasons, it is very unlikely that the role of architecture is still that of the past to give shape to the city through new constructions. Nowadays, if architecture wants to survive, it must constantly evolves giving real answers to the needs of society. Recovering and reinventing our major infrastructures is an opportunity to reconfigure urban fabric in bad conditions and to answer to the needs of the inhabitants despite economic crisis. It is an opportunity to make Architecture.