Master 1 Project with August Hijlkema and Felipe Santos

Prof. Nicolas Gilsoul, Philippe Trétiack

We started by noticing that Alcamo, this sicilian town situated between Trapani and Palermo, and literally sliced in two pieces by the giant autostrada, needs a strong element to appear in the territory. There is an abandoned place, tangent to this highway, at the entrance of the town. This place is the castels di Calatubo. Ancient implantation of an Elymian necropolis, the site is marked by the reminiscence of an arabic fountain from the 5th century, and a farm from the 11th century, fortified in the 14th. Confronting the big infrastructure by it's high position on top of a rock, the Castle is a door to the city but also the flag of a rich history, therefore we took the party to reactivate this strong symbol. After our researches on the notion of past, ruins, crumbling, but also death and the mafia, we realised that Sicily had a particular relation to life and death, and to the notion of remembering. It appeared natural for us to articulate a contemplative project around the concept of death.The initial project aimed at creating a foundation to welcome the Triumph of Death, a monumental painting from the 14th century, currently in Palermo at the Palazzo Abatelis. The ambition was to create in this mythic site a place of contemplation and meditation around the theme of death. But an event in the project process forced us to abandon this idea, and switch the program towards a crematorium and funerarium, accompanied by a space of memory containing the ashes. The buildings from the first project were treated as the more ancient ruins, to implement the ashes. A new building dedicated to the funerarium and crematorium has been projected at the entrance of the site, opening both on the first and the second courtyrads.