By Caroline Smith
Cedric Price shows us six strategies to transforming a building- reduction, addition, insertion, connection, demolition, and expansion. Each of these are simple and easily applied to any existing structure. It is interesting to relate these techniques to my own current project just below the Coso Firenze in Genova, Italy. The program for the design includes both indoor and outdoor theaters, library space, lecture space, offices and other related spaces. The site takes place in a crucial location within the city, behind the historical Albergo. I would like to think of the multi-purposed terraces as the existing architecture to be updated. Although there is no historical building, the six strategies could be applied to the site because of its own history and complexity. In this case, the product of our design will be considered parasitic.
Price’s first set of sketches demonstrate reduction and addition. These opposite actions could be applied to two different aspects of the project. Addition creates more of a parasitic element because one structure (the new) rests solely on another (the old). The site is full of vantage points already, but we would like to see a new belvedere added to enhance the view. This belvedere would completely rely on the site because its surroundings define it, while it adds to the value of what is already there, similar to Korteknie Stuhlmacher Architecten’s Parasite Strategie in Rotterdam, which draws people in while creating functional value to the space. Therefore we are designing a belvedere in the South West corner of the site allowing a view down towards the harbor, but also up to the mountains in the back, which is something overlooked in the existing site. Reduction in this case is a little more conceptual. Presently, the site behind the Albergo is very ambiguous. The space is almost wasted because it is non-functional. By giving the area a specific purpose through additions and other strategies, the ambiguity of the space can be reduced, or simplified, and more functional for visitors. Aisslinger and Warner use this conceptual reduction with the Standard Parasite, an inhabitable box that can be placed anywhere, simplifying an ambiguous space for specific purpose. In this way, Reduction can result from parasitic architecture in a simple way without changing a space too much.
The second set of sketches- insertion and connection, are used together. The theaters will be inserted into the remaining terraces. There will be little change to the massing of these areas, so insertion is a very simplified way of transforming the space, while keeping the original structure. Every part of the project will be connected through the base of the belvedere, a central tower which will act as a hub for all of the programs. The tower will then connect to the Corso Firenze, so that the actual site is connected to its surroundings by the parasite. This will once again enhance the space, presenting a functional, direct path for visitors into the site, which is currently confined.
Finally, in the third set of sketches the actual new tower structure is revealed through expansion and demolition. An expansion is a freestanding object connected to what is existing- the terraces of the site. However in order for the central tower to be built, parts of the site will have to be demolished. In this way, demolition and expansion will work together within the site to add a greater meaning.
The site we are dealing with has a history of many different programs. Currently it stands unused and abandoned, but Price inspires us to design for continual change. He understood that architecture must change with the times, and his techniques allow the architect to be that agent of change. Often times parasitic architecture results from these changes, which can add functionality to a place, while attracting more people. Cedric Price’s strategies teach us the most simplified way of doing this, and transforming architecture to keep up with the current times, while respecting the history of a place.