The Theatre of Possibility


A scene, a square, a carpet of theaters. An urban place that is representative of the Syracusan identity, which knows how to express that genius loci that modern development seems to have forgotten: this is the objective that the thesis proposes.

Assuming the realization of a widespread university system as a possible guarantor of that cultural artistic palimpsest that is Syracuse, the choice to realize a ‘Theater Academy arises from the recognition of the deep bond that has been established between the place and the theatrical practice since ancient times, as well as the objective necessity to institutionalize and give space to the numerous city theatrical companies. The project thus becomes a pretext for a more accurate investigation of what it means to do theater today and on what forms the theater building can take in an era that has seen the theater come out of theaters by rejecting the now canonical nineteenth- century model to invade the spaces of everyday life.

The project of a theater, apparently inadequate, however, finds an answer in the urban development of Syracuse: the city, for centuries built up and under itself in an extraordinary continuity with its past, since the twentieth century has instead expanded without any relationship with its history, or with the territory, giving rise to a boundless periphery that today needs to rebalance the relationship between public and private and to find a dialogue with the important archaeological pre-existences. Starting from these considerations, the terrace overlooking the greek theater has been chosen as project area for its chance to become a reference point for the surrounding neighborhoods and, more importantly, the engine of an enhancement of the Neapolis park. In the will to dialogue with archeology, starting from the traces of the Ieronian complex that once occupied the area, and then from the study of the various surveys carried out during the ‘900, we proceeded to a hypothetical reconstruction of the ancient sanctuary to steer us in compositional choices.

Following that “Syracusan way” ready to use the past to build and legitimize future buildings, the Academy and the Theater seek the spatiality of the ancient complex without mimetically reproducing it and keeping in mind the relationship with the orography as the founding architecture Greek and Syracusan in particular. An elementary and complex project that seeks its reasons in its essential relationship with history, theme and place. A project that, looking for continuity, offers itself as a possibility for the future of the theater and the suburbs, without giving up being a memory of the past.


What prompted the project?

The project stems from the will to investigate what making theatre means today, with a particular focus on the relationship with the context, both from the point of view of the archaeological pre-existences, and from that of the landscape. Siracusa has in fact been the cradle of ancient theater and the project finds direct comparison with the ruins of the nearby Greek theatre, of which it becomes a backdrop.

What defined the language of representation of the project?

The language we’ve used wanted to enhance the relationship between the ground and the what is built, since the theme of the excavation is a founding principle of the project itself. We’ve also tried to capture the colors and material of Siracusa in the most sincere way, to underline our desire for integration between design and nature.

Different methods of representation have been chosen to better explain the project: while plans and sections investigate its relationship with the soil, axonometries highlight the flexibility of the spaces and outline their construction, and three-dimensional images, being iconic, return the absoluteness and monumentality of the designed spaces.

What informed the selection of drawings through which you seek to reveal the project? How does each one speak of a set of values and propositions?

While the overall drawings underline the relationship between nature and construction, the different theatrical spaces have been rendered through a series of iconic images to allow the reading of their volumetric and spatial features, but above all to suggest the modalities of their fruition. Acting like a catalog of possible theaters, these flexible and absolute spaces are represented outside time and space, with images that want to underline their almost infinite possibilities.

What role do the silhouettes play within the images? How do these inform the architecture and the space?

The silhouettes animating the drawings, in addition to giving an idea of the scale of intervention, activate the architectural spaces: they give them a meaning, and explain one, or more, ways of using them.

Human presence suggests the theatricality of the spaces and make them, however monumental, alive, “permanent scene of the human life”.

What was your work process in terms of research and understanding the ‘history’ and ‘site’?

Being the project within an archaeological park, we had to study with particular attention the surveys carried out on the area during the ’80s, then proceeding to a hypothetical reconstruction of the sanctuary that occupied the site in the 2nd century AD.

This operation has been necessary to understand what was its relationship with the Greek theatre, the altar and the temple of Apollo, in the center of it, but also how it dialoguedwith thelandscape.

How do you understand context in our contemporary global condition?

Studying Siracusa’s history, learning how it was built, through a process of extraordinarily continuous vertical stratification over the centuries, in a deep relationship with the ground, as witnessed by the presence of numerous hypogeaand latomie (ancient stone quarries that dot the slopes of the Ibleo plateau on which the project stands), has oriented many design choices.

In a “global” world in which architecture is only linked to the architect’s name, it is now essential to restore a dialogue with the context. Understanding how, throughout the centuries, men have related to a specific environment according to certain territorial, climatic and cultural features, is of fundamental importance for the realization of a project that, while responding to contemporary needs, knows how to put itself in continuity with what has existed before.

A project that aims to translate a genius loci, and, although modern, to last over time, setting itself as yet another stratification and not as an event.