LOCATION: Roccascalegna, Italy
TYPE: Design Competition
PROJECT TEAM: Daisy Ames, Drew Heller
Historically, the rocca has served as a symbol of place and land surveillance in eastern Italy’s rolling landscape. In part due to their high vantage point, these protruding masses of rock were utilized as citadels from which townships below were defended. While their medieval function, to survey the horizontal landscape, is no longer needed, today they provide a vertical vantage point ideal to reflect on oneself and the cosmos above.
In Rocca Reflect, each typological shelter - cabin, apartment, house, villa, and tower - utilizes a unique perceptual technique to engage the sky. The light frame wood construction of the cabin is easily rotated upon a pivot point in order to orient toward specific constellations. The apartment reflects optimal views of the sky into the main living space as well as the lofted bed above through an angled mirror. The house tests the potentials of water, using the pool to refract the night’s light. The villa turns the daytime sky into an event by using a camera obscura, projecting the sky into individual rooms so that visitors may appreciate both night and day.
Finally, the sky lounge at the top of the rocca, which is accessible via a gondola at the path’s current entrance, magnifies the sky though a 500mm telescope located atop a new fortress tower. The tower visually anchors the two towers of the church and fortress at either side by considering their proportion and use of vernacular stone. A central strength of Rocca Reflect lies in maintaining a relationship with the rocca’s historical roots to provide an array of vantage points. In honoring the roots of the historical surveyor, Rocca Reflect draws on known perceptual techniques to create otherwise impossible perspectives - altering and enhancing one’s relationship to the sky as one ponders the cosmos.