The transformation of an ancient water infrastructure in Palermo into a contemporary green paradise based on heritage preservation and social inclusion.

Maredolce is a special site in Palermo. Defined by its historical layers – a unique mix of Arab, Norman and Sicilian culture – the plot finds itself enclosed and forgotten behind the walls that once gave birth to a royal paradise. The project “Mareverde” revisits the site limits in order to reach the local population and to create a new contemporary paradise based on social inclusion, cultural diversity and heritage preservation. The illustrations portrait the transformation of the ancient “sweet sea” into a green paradise where the heritage landscape tells the site’s history and enables its continuation.

The project was developed during the Ground Water - City Architectures de l’eau en Sicile course at ENSAPM (École Nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais).

KOOZ What prompted the project?

AML | CV | GP The MareVERDE project was developed at the Ground Water – City Architectures de l’eau en Sicile studio in ENSAPM, Paris that explores the reuse of ancient water infrastructures in Palermo. The currently underused MareDOLCE park, an architectural and historical gem, was our intervention site. With the aim of revealing its natural and cultural aspects, we rethink this ancient paradise. MareVERDE is the result of an urban, architectural and landscape acupuncture that seeks to highlight the history of the site through the addition of new layers to this historical, cultural and landscape palimpsest.

KOOZ What questions does the project raise and which does it address?

AML | CV | GP How to revitalize an underused park that has suffered from several types of occupations? How to intervene in a contemporary way without modifying and harming the site’s history? How to reinterpret and give a new meaning to an ancient paradise?… All of these questions guided our project decisions from the beginning until the end. The high complexity of the site gave birth to a design process that focused on creating an architecture that merges and highlights the existing landscape of the site instead of trying to establish a new architectural language.

KOOZ What informed the graphic language through which the project is represented?

AML | CV | GP Palermo is a unique historical palimpsest. MareDOLCE has in its own paysage the same superposition of historical layers that gave birth to the city and that consequently shaped the outcome of the plot. Our choice of using collages as our main graphic tool comes from the interesting similarity between the site’s history and the collage’s technique. Both are a direct result of the superposition of different layers, sources and informations that culminates in a rich site, project and representation technique.

KOOZ To what extent is the medium the message?

AML | CV | GP The pandemics changed deeply our educational institutions and learning process. What once was an architecture studio with field trips and the possibility of knowing in person the site’s singularities and characteristics became a long distance experience where our personal perceptions had to be developed in a different way. The medium gained the role of being the channel where we explored the site and develop our own sensibility towards it.

MareVERDE is the result of an intense exploration of the spatialisation of history and its possibilities. The collage method not only carries in its technique and final form the history of the conception of the MareDOLCE, as it shows the inseparable and symbiotic relationship proposed in MareVERDE between architecture and landscape. Human and nature acts not as two separate parts, but as a single and inseparable entity.

KOOZ How does the project seek to achieve social inclusion, cultural diversity and heritage preservation.

AML | CV | GP MareVERDE is a project that seeks to reinvent an ancient royal paradise, the park of MareDOLCE. The project seeks to enlarge the paradise’s public by integrating the park with the city of Palermo. Several interventions in the urban scale are done in order to provide a better connectivity and accessibility to the site. The creation of new points of access, the proposition of historical routes and the connection of the park with the public transportation system are some of the measures proposed.

To achieve social inclusion, new uses that are in line with the history of the site are proposed: a local agricultural school and market. The park becomes not only a place for rest and contemplation, but also a source of food and life. The school enables the local population to learn and to transform the site through one of its historical main elements: food, while the market allows the sell and buy of the local production. The famous Palermo cuisine becomes the language capable of transforming an ancient royal palace into a more democratic and accessible haven.

The landscape and architectural project are particularly attentive to the historical heritage of the site. By embracing the existing elements and using it as a source of inspiration and language for the project, MareVERDE gives birth to a paradise that has as its main purpose the maintenance and enhancement of its own qualities.

"The park becomes not only a place for rest and contemplation, but also a source of food and life."

KOOZ How does the project explore the power of architecture?

AML | CV | GP The power of architecture resides in the creation of new realities. In MareVERDE, we are certain to have achieved this goal, even if it’s an unbuilt project. During the semester, we have developed a series of projects and propositions for the site using collages, diagrams, models and technical drawings that explored different scenarios. Those representations were essential for us to see and to enable others to notice the great potential of the site. We were especially happy with the studio feedbacks that included locals who claimed that MareVERDE opened their minds about the different realities that could happen there.

KOOZ What is for you the power of the architectural imaginary?

AML | CV | GP It is through architectural and urban utopias that we conceive the future. The power of the architectural imaginary enables us to conceive realities that can contribute to the creation of a better world. Although all realities have constraints, it is only with a certain level of freedom of thought that we can create different paths, systems, and communities. During the conception of MareVERDE, we were very happy for having an international team and for not fearing the idea of exploring different solutions for the site. We strongly believe that our differences allowed us to have a high level of freedom and abstraction.


Carol Vasques is a Brazilian architect based in Paris, France. She is currently enrolled in the Master program at the École Nationale Supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais and is the co-founder of MMW (@mmw.arch), an online platform dedicated to raise the visibility of female architects through the publication of their work. Her final thesis “Hospital Psiquiátrico São Pedro: da invisibilidade à integração” was chosen by Archdaily as one of the best architecture final thesis projects in Brazil, Portugal and Angola. She was also awarded with an honorable mention for the project “Fragments of (a)NY city” in the Archmedium NYVC PRO competition.

Giulia Petrucci is an Italian graduating student at the Faculty of Architecture of Sapienza University of Rome. She is currently working on her degree thesis, which explores the relationship between architectural space and its perception on an emotional level and investigates its effects on indoor comfort, also with the support of artificial intelligence.

Ana Marta Lins is a Brazilian architect and urban planner based in Paris. She is currently enrolled in the Master program at the École Nationale Supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais and works as an architect at DL-Bat, a French Portuguese construction company. She received a BB Green mention for the project “COOP – A Construction System For City-Actors” at Beebreeders’ Rome Collective Living Challenge. In addition, her final project “Mercados” was elected one of the best final projects of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.

17 Nov 2021
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