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Framing The Ruin    


Fontanigge is a place suspended in time; its territory is composed of some of the last remaining salt-pans in the Mediterranean. Through time this traditional method of salt production has enabled the development of a special living environment, in which nature and humans go hand in hand. The project is conceived as an abstract reconstruction of the salt-pan house ruin. Its sculptural form emphasises its identity through the cross laminated timber following the perimeter of the ruin, creating a volume that becomes a unique fragment of the uniform mosaic of scattered houses along the horizon.

Ruskin thought that buildings must be left to ruin until they are overtaken by nature. In our proposal we want to preserve the remains of the salt-pan house, yet we don’t recall its previous state; we embrace and preserve what is now. Through the new envelope we enhance and glorify the ruinesque state of the house. The volume is created as an abstract way of evoking the ruin, transferring it to the CLT structure through abstract compositions, including its openings. The CLT allows visitors to comprehend the original extent of the salt-pan house, framing the ruin and providing a clear contrast between the smooth texture of timber and the sharper stone remains.

Portals and staircases magnify the entrances, giving new importance to the ruin. Upon entering, the raised path moves the visitor along the ruin walls, experiencing the historical layers at hand’s reach. The openings guide the visitor and remind them of the ruin’s position within the greater landscape. The path, with the bench and the lower ruin wall, frame the historical ground in the interior. A few steps allow the connection to the soil. While simple in its detailing, the encasement creates an intricate, intimate space within a courtyard, culminating in its openness to the sky. The visitor now has time to unveil the hidden layers of time, whilst the sounds of nature, the position of the sun, and the breath of the wind penetrate the openings of the walls.

The structure is made of two L-shaped planes, stable and self-supporting. For the construction we were inspired by the stereotomical structure of the ruin and give it new value through the referential use of CLT. The corners refer to the detail of the stone corner arrangement and the concrete base to a grounding plinth; the corner window and the narrow panels next to the portals are a play on the contrasting materiality of the dark and robust stone as opposed to the light and thin CLT walls.

The framing of the ruin emphasises its value and importance; it protects it and creates an interior courtyard. This forms a dialogue between outside and inside through the composition of openings, strengthening the dialogue between nature and ruin; framing the ruin from outside and framing nature from within, the sculpture clearly highlights the importance of both these elements of Fontanigge’s heritage: its natural environment and its respectful, man-made inhabitation.

Status: Competition (not won)
Location Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, Slovenia
Client: OUTSIDER Magazine
Program: Temporaryspatial intervention, preservation of a Salt-Pan House ruin
Team: Alexander Petrounine, Camilla Ceccacci