Design initiative Young Architects Competitions (YAC) has announced the winners of an ideas contest for the transformation of a remote Italian fortress into "one of the most atmospheric centres of contemporary art in the Mediterranean".
Italian studio Simposio have secured first prize for their proposal to carefully integrate new cultural and hospitality buildings into the rocky landscape of Favignana, an isle in the Southern Sicily that is home to Santa Caterina, a former prison that has stood abandoned for more than a century.
The ‘Art Prison’ competition – launched in collaboration with the municipality of Favignana and the Italian government – sought ideas for turning the site into “a sublime place of encounter, culture and creative research” with a focus on contemporary art.
Competing architects had to propose how to add a museum, luxury hotel, cultural centre, artist residences and a restaurant for star chefs to the historic landmark, using materials that relate to the existing architecture.
It was stipulated that excavations could not exceed 3 metres below the ground level, sustainable principles must be adopted and no existing buildings could be demolished, although enlargements, combinations with new volumes and raised elements were permitted.
Architects Daniel Libeskind, Manuel Aires Mateus, Felix Perasso and João Luís Carrilho da Graça formed part of the competition jury.
“We launched this competition because we wanted to open ourselves towards an international audience looking for creativity in order to get to an enlightening vision that might develop new architectural solutions for a reuse and re-harmonisation of the fortress,” reflected Giuseppe Pagoto, the mayor of Favignana and one of the judges.
“I believe we succeeded in this challenge and that the winning proposals provide smart solutions.”
Simposio – formed by architects Davide Natarelli, Federico Bettazzi, Chiara Davino, Tommaso Seveso and Eleonora Valle – will share the €10,000 cash prize.
The second place team, Brazil’s In Situ will receive €4,000, while third-placed MJHM, from the US, will take home €2,000.
Local decision-makers will now consider ways in which the proposed ideas could be made a reality.
The competition winners and honourable mentions can be viewed here.