Ostuni is a city of 32.000 inhabitants, located in the region Pulia in the south of Italy. During the summer the amount of inhabitants triples due to tourism. But the amount of local inhabitants is actually decreasing; the young and middle aged people leave the city to look for better (work) opportunities.
After we visited the city we noticed that it had a lot of potential. Not only is the old town beautiful, the food from this region is exquisite. Many products such as olive oil and cheese are produced in this region and then shipped to Italy, Europe and the rest of the world. But many people are not aware of the fact that these amazing products are from this area! This is mainly because products are only produced here and then shipped and labeled somewhere else. In order to keep this area attractive, for locals and tourists, this needs to change!
Our group became very interested in the phenomenon consumerism for promoting this city and it’s products. Consumerism it is about selling people things that they don’t need, but just really want to have. If you pay attention you can see it being applied everywhere in your surroundings; especially in city centers or on television. Our aim was to create a project that is critical towards the use of consumerism in the present day society using architecture.
The idea is that this project will put Ostuni on the map as The Food City of Italy. The project’s location is an industrial zone located between the city of Ostuni and the sea. It lies in the middle of the olive fields and has beautiful views on the old city of Ostuni. This industrial area is lacking identity, but is located strategically close to the high way and railway.
We used a radical approach to transform this area; instead of keeping the old identity-lacking factory buildings, an empty strip is created within this area. The total length of the strip will be 2,7 kilometers and will be divided into three zones: the production area, the experience area and the selling area. These zones are subdivided into 9 squares of 300 x 300 meter. A symmetrical pedestrian road connects the 9 squares with each other.
Since many products are produced in this region but are labeled somewhere else, from now on all the local products will be gathered in the ‘production’ area. In the factory they will be labeled with the Ostuni brand. The products will be stored in the storage area and shipped using the railway or the nearby highway.
In the experience part visitors can feel, smell, touch, taste, look and fully experience the products. This area is divided into a traditional Italian piazza, olive oil, cheese and wine square. But since we are talking about consumerism here, the experience part will show what people want to see of the product. An idealized image of the truth. Below the concept images of the different squares:
The route of the visitor will usally start at the piazza, since it is closest by the railway station and the parking spaces. The buildings on the piazza are arranged in such a way that the visitor automatically moves towards the Pasta, Wine, Cheese and olive oil experience areas. Of course, a curious visitors can also visit the production-area, for which they have to cross the bridge on the other side of the piazza. In this production area a truthful image of the production of the products will be shown.
After the visitor has crossed the experience part, they will end up at the selling part. Hopefully the visitor will be so enthousiastic about the product by now that they will be willing to buy it. Therefore a market hall is located at the end of the strip, where the products will be sold and business meetings will be held.
Above the site plans of the nine squares can be seen. Each square has a different atmosphere and this will be very noticeable when you move from square to square over the symmetrical road. The size of 300 by 300 meters of the squares is chosen so that the visitors can ultimately experience the products without being distracted by the surroundings. The fabric of the existing buildings will be cut off at the edges of the strip. This may seem like a radical move. But we think that the existing companies will actually benefit from the creation of such a commercial hotspot.
The piazza-square is designed according to the traditional Italian piazza; it has portico, a market space and a town hall. The composition of the buildings is based on paintings of the Greek-Italian painter De Chirico. The bridge that connects the production and the experience parts is a mixture of both. The design is based on an existing bridge, and is made of cortensteel (reference to production area) but also has green zones on top of it (experience area). In the storage-square and factory-square the visitor can see the high-tech facilities of the production area.
The images at the top of this page represent the final renders. A blog post with pictures of the final presentation can be found here (in Dutch).