Advisors: W.G. Clark and Peter Waldman
Spring 2019
Site Plan
I. Impetus
As a child all of my summers were spent on a very small island in the south of the Tuscan archipelago. The island called Giannutri  used to belong to the Domitian Family during the Ist and IInd centuries A.D.. Just like we do today the Domitian family and their friends would come to the island to find peace and fresh air away from the Rome’s heat in the summer months. On the island they inhabited a sumptuous Maritime Villa terraced above the water. The site is today in ruins and has been exponentially looted since the island’s inclusion into a mini-cruise service traveling through the archipelago every day in summer. This thesis project aims to design a structure to protect the ruin from the peaked tourism  as well as frame it as a didactic place in which the ruin can be appreciated. 
II. Site Constraints
Giannutri as a site comes with a lot of constraints, first of all the island is very dry during the summer months, the trees (mostly junipers) are very low and surrounded by bushes which makes it very hard to find shade unless on one of the inland paths cutting through these maritime forests. Secondly the mini cruise service arrives onto the island at 11AM every day and sails off again at 4PM. Because of security reasons the cruise ship stays on the dock for the time it takes to unload the passengers and then goes to anchor in the nearby bay. Since the island is only populated by 90 families there is no public infrastructure such as cafes, public bathrooms etc... This leaves a group of 200 passengers with no access to toilets as well as proper shade/seating area during the hottest hours of the day.
Tourists and mini-cruise ship at pick up time
III. Meeting the ground
The main question in designing for a ruin surfaces when deciding how to meet the ground. The earth being the ‘womb’ from which the ruins and artefacts emerge the decision of whether to ‘fly’  ‘touch’ or ‘dig’ the ground is key. The diagrams below show different drawing iterations of the museum component in section and plan of possible ways of meeting the ground, starting from ‘flying’ [row 1] to ‘touching’ [row 2] to 'digging' [rows 2, 3]. The drawings assume that the bathroom and museum are integrated in a single component. 
VI. Strategy 
Following various iterations it became obvious that the project should become three different structures all placed along the path to the residential quarters. First is the bathroom, designed as an ambiguous solid and providing shade to the tourists. From there begins the path towards the ruin. Along the forest one encounters an amphitheater dug into the ground leading to an underground, museum structure. Finally one reaches the gate and can ‘fly’ by climbing all the way to the top of the tower to see the ruin from above.
Iterations
A. Restrooms (5x15m)
The restrooms were designed as a solid cave, a monolithic piece unlike any of the architecture of the island. The building is laid out around two solid walls, one from which six bathroom stalls are carved out and the other from which a deep sink is carved on one side and a bench and protruding roof are added on the other side. The bench was conceived as a shaded place of rest after the steep walk from the harbour. The only light sources inside the structure are the two access points on opposite sides as well as the clerestory openings within the stalls.  Thus the structure was given a dark and refreshing feel after the uphill walk in the summer heat. In designing the structure  the heavy materiality of concrete was key as well as the way in which the building greeted the visitor's hand. As such the copper sink and it's knobs were given a narrow, industrial feel, hence greeting the visitor with a delicacy separate from the heaviness of the concrete 'cave'.
Arrival to the harbour.
Landing.
Path from harbour to inland.
Axonometric
Plan
Section
B. Museum (5x25m)
The museum structure was also designed as a cave. Instead of simply touching the ground (restrooms) it digs it, concealing the artefacts underground: the place where they were found. The building was divided in four parts. First an amphitheater, wherein the tour guide may give an overview of the site and its significance as the visitors sit on the steps. The second part serves for the display of the cataloged  artefacts. These are shown in cases connected to exposed concrete rebars as seen in the detail drawing below. The cases create a clear visual connection between the artefacts and their container. On the central partition wall hangs the mosaic of the labyrinth, the most significant piece discovered on site (see render on the next page). It is put in evidence through a light-well dropping the mid-day sunlight from above. The third part is an enclosed glass laboratory, providing storage and workspace for the pieces which have not been cataloged or studied. The fourth part is an exit stair changing the orientation of the walkway, framing the ocean view through the forest. Finally the roof provides a ledge to sit on for the tourist group to wait for everyone to have circulated through the exhibition space. 
Access to the path from the restrooms leading to the ruin.
The path is first surrounded by bushes and meets a forest before reaching the ruin.
In the forest the path meets the museum.
Axonometric
Plan
Section
C. Tower (5x10m)
The tower doesn’t touch or dig the ground, it raises it. Because the ruin’s perimeter is fenced off, the site is only accessible during the hours between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. The tower allows for the site to be comprehensively seen both during official tours and during closed hours. Since visiting hours take place only during the warmest hours of the day the summer citizens of the island have been discouraged to go or have broken into the fence creating a security issue. The tower creates a new visual connection to the site enabling the residents to enjoy the ruin without breaking in. The design -like the other two structures, has a monolithic core with 2.5 flights of stairs wrapping around the perimeter and then carving into the core to create a framed view of the ocean which eventually leads to the elevated plane.  The tower is a full concrete pour with the exception of the handrail where the hand is met by a smooth timber lining as shown in the detail below.
Exit of the museum framing the ocean through the forest.
Path from the museum to the ruin.
Arrival at the gate.
Axonometric
Plan
Section
Back to Top