Preservation in architecture often entails hesitation due to the dichotomy of proposing a new project whilst maintaining what exists. The unique condition of the Fortress of Santa Caterina, however, in which there are two buildings of very different character, provides the opportunity to separate this dichotomy into a clear intervention of two intentions.
This proposal addresses the castle’s adjacent building exclusively, which undergoes a process of careful adaptations as well as horizontal and vertical additions. Successively, the building becomes ‘imprisoned’ within a mesh of corten-steel that camouflages its exterior, giving it a completely new appearance. In turn, the castle is ‘liberated’ from any kind of intervention, with its architectural individuality now strengthened by the contrast with its transformed neighbour. Liberated also from any programmatic expectations, the castle remains as an untouched monument of its history.
The altered building accommodates two artists’ studios on the first floor, with workshops available on the ground floor. The new top floor becomes a large exhibition space, open in plan and providing views to all of the surroundings. The steel-mesh curtains, which hang from each floor and can be raised independently, provide interior shading, intimacy and privacy for the artists.