The project involves the reuse of the ticket office of the adjacent multisport facility, abandoned since years and its reconversion into a coffee-bistro. The property, owned by the municipality, has been the subject of a call for tenders for the award to private investors, with the aim not only of renovating a run-down but mainly to combine the private’s wishes and aspirations with the public needs by means of a quality planning.
The formula chosen by the local administration was one of collaboration to provide for the lack of resources. The main goal is to recover the building and simultaneously to improve the quality of the surrounding built-up area in a highly critical neighbourhood:
An urban gap between the outskirts of Ragusa and the new expansion areas that are springing up around the city without logic; A very low building density area as a leftover of a residential expansion plan not linked to the pre-existing urban setting.
It is a quick transit area where some services for the community persist like the sports facilities (the sports arena, the football stadium, the public swimming-pool and the riding-school), the street market, the schools, the business centre and all their respective huge parking. The wide empty spaces, the low building density and the rare public use (mainly due to occasional events), give to this area the typical features of an urban “non-place”.
The only distinctive point of reference is the tower of the municipal water tank that overlooks the building subjected to the action and with its about 30 meters’ height becomes the “flagship” of the area.
The public-private strategy is to start a commercial activity to serve all the sports facilities and at the same time accessible to all the new families living in the area; but the true challenge is to create a meeting point for the whole community and to trigger a process of urban regeneration. A survey showed that the building, erected in the late 80’s, has a square plan, a reinforced concrete structure, a flat roof made of brick and concrete, hollow brick infill walls and has openings on all the façades.
The project, in compliance with the current regulations and in respect of the budget, involves the realization of an outer skin made of low-cost and reused materials (Aquapanel® panels and carpentry wooden slats) that reshapes the building. The openings on the side façades (that look south on to the sports arena and north on to the under-construction building cooperatives) are shielded by the new filter; two large windows, the one on the entrance and the other one aligned on the opposite face, open up a view on the urban landscape.
On the north façade, a part of the casing is designed to be eventually overturned creating outdoor tables. The building envelope serves also as a ventilated wall insulating from cold and heat especially during the summer when the external temperature gets close to 40 degrees.
The casing not only shields the technical systems (boiler, air conditioner outdoor unit, water pump, alarm system) but also creates a perimeter cavity that works as a storage.
Inside, a wall enamelled with a green polyurethane resin separates the work area from the customers’ area. Beams and pillars are left in fair-faced concrete and the floor is made of industrial concrete screed smoothened and treated with a transparent resin. The bar counter, as a full block, is made of iron sheets and the furniture recall vintage retro styles.