“building upon building” – a publication for the jubilee edition of FORUM magazine nr. 9
45 European architects from several generations were approached for the jubilee edition. The assignment was to design a fictitious extension for an existing building that compliments and continues the inherent narrative of the original building.
Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke got the fictive assignment to design an extension for Palazzo della Ragione, the former City Hall of Padova, Italy.
Alienation and Adaptation
Palazzo della Regione, the former City Hall of Padova, seems to be an archeological remnant resulting from centuries of change. Most notably, these vicissitudes include variations of its programmatic uses, physical alterations of the building itself, and the transformation of its surroundings over the years. Attempts to connect the building with its context have been likely frustrated by the particular configurations of the property on which it sets. The resulting rhombus-shaped floor plan generates an intriguing uneasiness strikingly visible in the outward appearance of the building as seen from the surrounding squares. At first glance, the building appears to maintain general rules of logic. However, with further study at the urban scale, certain logical imbalances become apparent. Such aberrations become manifested as uncontrolled “in-between” areas that are represented by irregular shaped squares and enigmatic formal/spatial connections between the former City Hall and the surrounding city.
This strained positioning of the Palazzo is recognized and emphasized with the latest expansion as illustrated by this proposal. Through the rhythm of the arcades, the attendant new facades seek connections to the existing public spaces. Moreover, these arcades intentionally cause an additional alienation. At specific moments, they are careful to only surround a public space thereby making corrections to the urban tissue in order to provide a clearer spatial hierarchy. In this way, the relationships between the public spaces and the position of the building therein are more precisely defined. Furthermore, the new forecourts give the building added order, they form strong entrances to the Palazzo, and they provide an easier connection to the city. By bordering the disordered space, the illogical consequences of the building’s position relative to the urban fabric are simultaneously enhanced and corrected.