GHOST - Parco La Favorita
collaborators : Annapaola Busnardo


The reuse of Gio Ponti's villa foundations in Valdagno

In the remote case the right project for the competition site would exist, it should be Gio Ponti's one, in its version A, B or C – not forcefully the last.

When the construction of the villa stopped at its foundations, during the II World War, Valdagno was still a company town, gravitating around one production and one family, who envisioned for its inhabitants a privileged condition. The axis connecting the river with the Villa Favorita is the path which kept together some of most important public functions, as the theatre and the the workers wool and food store.

Since then a lot have changed – the "social city" lost intensity following the progressive de-industrialization of the wool factory, the theatre renovated its façade two times before being turned into an unsustainable cinema and then closed. Notwithstanding many other social institution ceased, the social city haven't completely extinguished, and in many case just changed its shape.

In 2008 the fence wall between Parco la Favorita and the city has been torn down, freeing the park for Valdagno citizens. Inside the park, in the exact centre of the esplanade, fitting perfectly in the symbolic axis connecting the private residence of the factory-owner and his urban creature, something is missing.

GHOST is the phantom of the never-built villa, the new vanishing point of an incomplete perspective.

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Platform
The villa foundations are a suspended platform looking down to the valley. It has few but essential characteristics. First of all the platform has a hard surface and it is surrounded on the four side by a lawn. It is covered by a thin layer of vegetation too. Secondly, it is raised, compared to the slightly inclined plane that contains it. Its edge towards Valdagno defines a new horizon.

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Room
GHOST is the project for a new empty room on top of the existing platform. We prefer to describe its intrinsic qualities rather than defining its function. Its program it's not clear yet, as it depends from very different and unpredictable elements: the management, the actors and the budget for the event that will take place in the area.

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Architecture could absorb these uncertainties by means of a generous and well determined intervention. The room has a rectangular shape, 30 m wide, 36 m deep and 9 m high; it is enclosed by a fabric net that, while disappearing during the day, gets very defined edges when lit during the night. The net is sustained by a perimeter of very thin white steel poles, 6m distance one from each other.

The net, when suspended from the wires that connect the poles, defines an intangible ceiling. The room is open to the elements and the changing seasons, while being at the same time secluded from the exterior by a thin white veil. It could host different programs: urban beach, theatre, open-air cinema, small concerts and fashion shows. Whenever empty, the room perfectly works.

Path
The room can be accessed only following a precise path. After ascending the monumental staircase, one is forced to plunge into the basement following a spiral stair, who finds its place outside the room, and re-emerge slowly to the surface. As a diving bell, GHOST preserves a controlled atmosphere in a constant tension with the surrounding environment.

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Basement
The basement is another room, that could be described better by precise qualities than determinate functions. We have decided not to sweeten this room demolishing part of the structure, but to exaggerate its subterranean condition. This floor contains and resolves the maximum contrast: very dark areas set agains very bright ones, flooded by zenithal light . The basement is not insulated. The only rooms where the inner clime could be controlled are the glass boxes and the toilets. The basement could host different programs too.

Cost
We're pretty convinced that even a call for ideas, when promoted by a PA, should face with the budget. GHOST is a strategy that could be replied in every case a PA confronts with the issue of reusing an old building. Our first concern has been solving the security problems, in order to open the building immediately to the public and, at the same time, doing it with the less money possible.