A Language of Accuracy


The project considers the contemporary crisis in the housing sector of Sweden caused by the extremely high prices of real estate. It develops a solution where different stakeholders join together to create a mixed-use space both for community activities and private housing. In this case, whilst paying attention to the suggestive actors of the city suggestive, the project imagines a partnership between Gothemburg Botanical Garden, the Municipality and future users of this area. The outcome of this joint activity is EMPORIUM, from the Greek term Empòrion (a portual place of exchange of goods and relationships) and NATURAE, due to the different species of vegetation play one of the main roles in the functional and spatial design, with masses and voids that affects the light, the circulation and the feelings.

The design of the public space is conceived bearing in mind the positive effects of vegetation in relation to the global quality of the space. In addition to the spatial and emotional aspects it is also significant from an technical point of view when considering aspects fitodepurative water management, the almost-passive energy balance, the use of renewables energies, the biomass waste treatment and the aeroponic growing technology.

Subsequently the ground floor is considered as an underwood, where the shadow and the contact with the water is a resource and not a limit, allowing for the opportunity of using fitodepuration for the stormwater treatment. In the upper floors the species are considered in relation to the different functions and levels of light and permeability: medium height plants for the first floor called The Wood, which is an extension of the Botanical Garden; herbs and spices for the Herbs Garden in the second floor linked with commercial purpose and greenery for the third floor Shared garden, where the community can produce and share food and vegetables.

Behind these spaces there is a structural concept in which all the masses are hanging from the primary structure, thanks to upper truss beams that work both as a connection between structural elements and as a first definition of spaces and modules.

Thinking in terms of modularity and with a clear idea of the experience of Fun Palace by Cedric Price, the whole building is conceived as a modular dry assembled raw infrastructure, in order to improve construction processes, controlling costs and time, while enhancing the industrial heritage of Frihamnen.As a result, all the housing units on the east and west sides of the central green space take into account two milestones:

The first one is the assembling approach achieved with raw building materials like steel frames for the structures, polycarbonate and/or polyuretane panels for the walls. The envelope is conceived as a continuous double greenhouse facade made of polycarbonate, giving the idea of a diaphanous and translucent solid and enhancing the blurred threshold between internal and external spaces.

The idea of giving all the users a ‘’free’’ incremental space is the second key point. The concept is a space that may change its use due to their living habits, in order to allow them to be emotionally  and practically involved in their own way to feel at home, enhancing the time factor made by changes and transformations that affects all our life cycle. Spatially conceived as an empty duplex module, attached to each housing unit, this space is functionally designed as a greenhouse that can also help building heating performances in the same way of the facade.


Who influences you graphically?

I’m really fascinated by the “purist” way of drawing, in which everything can be represented only through simple lines. I am fond of the accurate calibration of line weights and grayscale, for this reason I mainly take inspiration from ancient sources as manuals and manuscripts where architecture drawings were physically drawn by hand. If I should consider a contemporary firm as a flagship of my own way to represent architecture, I will say definitely Baukuh.

What defines the language of representation though which you choose to explore a project?

As previously mentioned, with a preference for the “hidden lines” technique, the main aspect that defines my language is the accuracy and detailing. I enjoy inserting everyday objects and actions in my drawing because they give a sense of “normality”.

How and to what extent does your photographic work effect your architectural work and vice versa?

Photography is one of first steps in approaching a project, however sometimes it’s not enough. I spend a lot of time just sitting in a place trying to grasp the vibe: sounds, smells, perceptions are important as images of that place. I will assume that a complete comprehension of a space is made by all senses elaborated in two different ways: the rational one, who solves problems and finds solutions; and the emotional one, who brings the soul of a place as a social value and makes it part of an object.

Do you use photography as a means to document and research a project in the early stages?

Yes, I use photographs to re-elaborate my mental images. One of my clichés is to reassemble photographs through collages in order to represent my visions and my feelings about a place, a space or an object. I will say that photographs are useful as tools to represent our mindscapes.

When capturing the city and elements of this, what are you interested in?

I’m definitely interested in everything that isn’t represented in that photo. As I said before there are a lot of immaterial and unphotographable things. For this reason, when I check an album, I choose the image in which there’s something missing, and then I work on it, I play with it in order to make it clear, sometimes ironic, sometimes scandalous. It depends on the hidden message I want to extract.

What is your take on colour?

I think that colours are the soul of our vision, for this reason we need to use them rationally. I don’t use so many colors both in my drawings and in my photos because they’re difficult to manage. I’m used to highlit one single object, image, emotion, detail with one color that may change every time depending on the element, but basically I work on black and white images and then I add the color I need.


Alberto Manzi graduated in Architecture at the Polythechnic of Turin in 2017 and he is now enrolled at the Msc in Architecture for Sustainabilty in Turin and will start an exchange program in Krakow next september.