previous stateSan Michele di Ganzaria is a small town in the Sicilian province of Catania, on the northern slope of Monte Ganzaria. To the north of the town, outside the dense main nucleus, there is an old abandoned railway station which was part of the railway line built in the 1920s between San Michele and Caltagirone.
aim of the interventionThe Giardino-Arena project is part of a linear park that follows the old railway track, revealing the contrasts of the agricultural landscape of the Sicilian hinterland. San Michele City Council took advantage of its participation in this initiative on a territorial scale to recover an abandoned space on the outskirts of the town and turn it into a square-mirador.
descriptionThe intervention leaves intact the remains of the railway station, which consists of three isolated constructions, but introduces a paved square platform twelve by twelve metres into the space between them. The platform is incrusted in the slope of Monte Ganzaria, just below the provincial road that leads to the town, and provides a splendid view of the multicoloured patches of the plots of agricultural land in the valley. The natural slope of the mountain is reproduced artificially on two sides of the platform by means of two slopes covered with turf.
The slope on the eastern side is longer than the other and ends in a courtyard that separates the water tower from the old station. The slope on the western side culminates at the summit in a small mirador. On this slope a series of benches formed of parallelepipedic stone blocks are scattered over the turf and equip the space for performing plays or enjoying picnics in the open air. Recently the Faculty of Architecture in Syracuse has organised outdoor workshops on landscaping there.
assessmentThe subtlety with which it is introduced into a natural context, which permeates the action with a marked landscape character, is in no way to the detriment of its condition as urban public space. On the one hand, it is a garden within the urban fabric of San Michele that provides the contrast of a 'belvedere' in the open air. On the other, it is still an arena which can be given a host of civic and collective uses.
Indeed, the Giardino-arena has certain analogies with the typology of the ancient Greek theatre, excavated out of the topography. Three inclined planes converge on a horizontal plane, which is the arena, and generate a precinct, open only on the north side, which corresponds to the back of the stage and offers a view of the Sicilian landscape. The arrangement of the stone benches, subtly aligned to form stands, seems intended to confirm the validity of that analogy.
David Bravo Bordas, architect