Siracusa, Italy, 2008
principals: Andrea Di Stefano, Aleksandra Jaeschke
design team: Salvo Pappalardo, Salvatore Mezzasalma, Paolo Tringali, Francesco Minniti
engineers: Daniele Catania, Antonio Di Caro
Plemmirio is an attempt to restore a state of ecological equilibrium to a summer residence built in the 60's in an area facing the Plemmirio marine protected area, a peninsula celebrated by Virgil but heavily altered by massive concrete construction.
The project reestablishes the relationship between the house and its natural environment introducing an outer skin which wraps up the existing volume mitigating the impact of sunlight and wind. It also reactivates the natural dynamics dormant in the garden in order to return it to nature.
The perforated copper envelope acts as a filter which mitigates excessive heat transfer channelling favourable winds and casting shadow. The system of vertical panels is dimensioned and oriented to best capture the summer breeze while the slim horizontal blades are parametrically positioned following the sunpath to protect the interiors from solar radiation during the hotest hours of the day. The ground floor of the house is partially open in order to enhance natural convection behind the envelope and at the same time physically and visually riconnect the garden to the rocky coastline.
The project also attempts to reactivate the suppressed natural dynamics in the area surrounding the house. The process of re-naturalisation follows the principles of phytosociology in order to reestablish the habitat continuity along the sea-land axis. Eliminating the existing driveways and elevating the path which cutting across the house connects the parking area with the coastline, helps minimise land occupation, allows the soil to breathe and triggers natural expansion of the existing vegetation. The continuity is also achieved thanks to the removal of the sea-front fence wall and its replacement with an anti-intrusion vegetal hedge formed by autoctonous plant species.
Crossed by the footbridge, elevated from the ground and enveloped by a protective skin, the house becomes a place where to pause to contemplate the power of the sea along a path leading to nature.