The target of this project was the overcoming of the “architectural” obstacle represented – for disabled people – by the huge difference in height existing between the square (Piazza San Michele) and the only possible access to the church, located about 4,70 meters over.
The project is formally inspired by extremely simple and sober compositional principles, if not by a severe minimalism. It actually implies a simple linear sequence of sloping surfaces, alternated with resting landings, turning around a central wall which – because of its wide dimensions in both height and length – plays the role of predominant and organizing element of the whole architectural composition; such role being emphasized by its combination – at its end stretching out towards the square – with an other wall having an encircling semielliptical shape which, while solving the connection between the central wall and the superelevated parvis of the church, defines an enclosed space devoted to rest and socialization.
The central wall also features a plastic element – carved into its end leaning out towards the public square – which, although not explicitly described, alludes to the antonomastic symbol of catholic iconography, which assumes the role to unmistakably identify the character of this new architecture. In order to comply with the brutalist language and the structural frankness of the existing building (typical of certain architectural works of the ‘60es), besides the widespread decay of the neighbourhood – which have been here emphasized, rather than denied, since they represent the genius loci of the environmental context – the choice of materials has been oriented towards rust iron (as for gates, elevator, railings and fences) and showing concrete (as for elevation walls), although their roughness has been redeemed by special textures and finishes.
The project aimed, this way, to give the church – and what the church represents, too – the opportunity to symbolically and physically lean out towards the neighbourhood and its social structure, and to dialogue with them speaking their same language, rather than opposing to them through a magniloquent and off-putting symbolism. Last but not least aim has been the purpose to show how Architecture can sometimes act as a spokesman for social uneasiness and, translating it into shapes, volumes and meaningful spaces, point it out to the attention of the community, reaffirming this way – at the same time – the dignity of the contest by which it has been generated.
Location: Piazza San Michele, Cagliari, Italy
Architect: Architetto Pierluigi Piu
Project year: 2008
3D renders: arch. Antonio Cuccu