Attracting and Communicating
Claudia Begni and Giacomo Palomba
During the last years, numerous designers have taken to Pisa as ground upon which to experiment and to influence the city’s most important nodes. In a city that needs to redefine its contact between buildings, open and closed spaces, the presence of infrastructural places, with a big potential under the urban point of view, creates a fascinating area of architectural interest. This is the case when analysing the second city station of Pisa, San Rossore. Situated in the northwest of the medieval walls, which define the inner city, it is a modern boundary of expansion, dividing the urban texture, on the east side, from the agricultural landscape, on the west, that is then related with the Natural Area of Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli.
At first sight it may seem to be in a peripheral zone and distant from the city centre, but it is actually within a strategic node. First of all the most touristic point of the city, the Cathedral and its Leaning Tower, are extremely close; but also many services such as the Engineering University, the Stadium G. Garibaldi, the S. Chiara Hospital and the recent archaeological area of the Ancient Roman Ships crowd this district.
The project area is a compound of connected urban voids, without a significant role in the system of the city, ignoring their potential values to redefine and renovate the public spaces. Rural fields, a huge open space of the train station, the super market parking area, a private parking lot and more small urban spaces are the objects that define a diagonal sequence of elements which find its culmination in the Piazza dei Miracoli.
The aim of the project is to create a connection between those spaces and to create an ensemble of public spaces capable of connecting the train station and the Piazza in a faster and easier way. So what it’s created is a crossroad defined by squares, gardens, thresholds and variations that helps the visitor through a journey based on perceptions and optimal fruition of the surrounding public spaces.
Next to this green system of public spaces, defining its boundaries, there are three architectural volumes: a bridge station, which principal aim is to be a urban connection before then a train station; a refurbished super market with some social housing residences on the upper floors; and a student house complex, with an auditorium and its canteen.
Who influences you graphically?
Our images explore how the graphic language of the project is key in being able to both attract and communicate with the viewer. From the very beginning we took as examples those works that were capable of being both expressive but also catchy. We were inspired by the vectorial representations of Sanaa, Baukuh and Atelier Bow-wow, which in a simple and apparently basic way convey their intention through the drawings. We also took inspiration from other architects and artist such as Viar, Fala and Jack Vettriano for the elegance and refinement of their drawings, using few elements and colours and creating suggestive landscapes.
What defined the graphic language of the proposal?
The graphic representation of the project has always been a central focus of our work. For this project, we tried to work with a method of representation that could lead us to express step by step our intents. As such, we came to the decision of having two kinds of graphic approaches. The first one is a vectorial one, for the more architectural drawings, through which we wanted to represent the project clearly through lines and hatches. To make these more appealing and to mark important elements we choose to restrict our colour palette to two colours, blue and yellow/ocher, inserted between the grayscale of the rest of the layout.
A second method was used to express the life and animation that we imagined for the spaces we designed. These images were crafted through textures, colours and patterns, from a retro library of elements, by which it was possible to create a more metaphysic scenery. This approach was mainly implemented for the views.
How important is the diagram as a means of communication?
Through the diagrams, the authors express the logics that are hidden behind every choice. The diagram is easier to understand but should be also exhaustive: another kind of representation would hardly express an abstract process that is implicit in the core of the project. In our case, it has been central to the exposition of the concept development, through which we came up with the proposal.
What defined the use of cut out silhouettes and how do these effect the image?
We chose cut-out silhouettes to create more eye-catching images for the viewer, in order to contrast the technical linearity of the other drawings. With this approach, we created an opposition between the lightness of vectorial drawings and the solid impact of full figures.
Ever so more profiles by Hockney, Vettriano, Magritte and many more are implemented within architectural imagery- what is your take on this?
We like to think about architects and designers as potential modern artists, able to put in their works different aspects of the representation syllabus, from the technical ones till the paintings. So in our drawing we did not want to think about a simple explanation of a project, but we put a specific attention for details with a research that goes beyond the simple technical drawing. From this point of view we then decided that, in contrast with the brightness and lightness of the material we chose (marble, glass and steel), such colourful and full profiles could have given a vivid character to the whole pictures.