Below and Above Ground  

Bressanone is located at a widening of the Isarco Valley and is characterized by a dense built condition that rides up the flanking slopes of the valley to create a multi-tiered settlement. Inserting the relatively large infrastructural project within this tight condition—a condition pressurized by the presence of the A22 highway and the railway line connecting Italy to Northern Europe—called for a careful analysis of the environmental impact of the project.

The 5km long ring-road that bypasses the historic city-center of Bressanone was planned in an effort to avoid congestion, reduce pollution, and to facilitate access from the north to the light industrial area south of the town. The design brief called for a series of interventions (tunnel portals, retaining walls, acoustic barrier walls, service substations, mechanical structures, ventilation chimneys, and various signage elements) along the entire tract and is guided by two simple design decisions.

 

Firstly, the above and below ground elements were conceptualized into a unified, consequential design approach and were calibrated to accommodate the peculiarities of the immediate site conditions. Secondly, the Bressanone and Varna tracts of the ring road were pulled together into one continuum whereby the two townships are no longer conceived as distinct contexts but rather two parts of a larger whole.

Research into the reconfiguration of commonly used materials in the road-building industry looked for new solutions to better address these environmental concerns while exploring new ways to put together very simple, low-cost materials that could bridge the gap in scale and overcome the difficulties in building in close proximity to the small scale buildings of Bressanone. The two-pronged chimney answers the technical requisites for the tunnel ventilation with a sculptural element.