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Competition: Capo d’Orso military museum, Sardinia

An international ideas contest has been announced to transform Sardinia’s ruined Capo d’Orso fortress into a military museum (Deadline: 17 June)

Open to teams featuring at least one member under 35, the competition seeks innovative proposals to convert the former hilltop citadel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea near Palau into a landmark military, marine and navigation museum.

The call for ideas – organised by YAC and supported by the Italian government – aims to transform the 250-year-old ruin, which occupies a dramatic granite summit, into a major tourist destination. Proposals must occupy no more than 3,000m² and must respect the existing structures.

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

According to the brief: ‘This competition will offer designers the opportunity to design the most important centre for the discovery of the Military History. It will be a place for getting involved with the account of ancient events and a time when the sea was tamed by the sweat of man and the roaring of cannons.

‘Renewed by culture and new architectures, the fortress of Capo d’Orso will no longer serve the logic of violence. It will rather enrich the contemporary society by giving the world one of the most fascinating museums of Europe. This museum will be set among the rocks of wild nature and located in one of the most majestic landscapes of the Mediterranean.’

Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy and the second largest island in the Mediterranean. The island’s picturesque north-east coast, known as the Costa Smeralda, was transformed into a major tourist destination during the mid-20th century by Italian architects Savin Couelle, Michele Busiri Vici and Luigi Vietti.

The Capo d’Orso fortress, located within the Costa Smeralda, was created as a defensive outpost during the mid-19th century and witnessed several conflicts including the First and Second World Wars.

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

The latest project aims to deliver a major new military museum featuring an exhibition space, contemplation space, restaurant, events area, library, shop and hotel

Proposals must be sustainable and respect the existing structure with access to the site provided by pedestrian routes only. New-build additions may be up to 4m high and should promote ‘harmony’ with the surrounding landscape.

Judges include Livia Tani from Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Donatella Fiorino from the University of Cagliari, Giovanni Zito of the Italian Government, Fuensanta Nieto of Nieto Sobejano, Teresa di Giorgio from the Municipality of Palau.

The overall winner will receive a €10,000 prize while a second prize of €4,000 and third prize of €2,000 will also be awarded along with four ‘gold mentions’ worth €1,000 each.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 17 June and submissions must be completed by 20 June

Fee

Early bird registration from 26 March to 22 April: €75
Standard registration from 23 April to 20 May: €100
Late registration from 21 May to 17 June: €150

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Dresden Military Museum case study: Q&A with Jochen Klein

The principal at Studio Libeskind discusses lessons learned designing a new military museum for Dresden, Germany

Jochen Klein

Jochen Klein

Jochen Klein

How did your project expand an existing structure to deliver a high-quality new military museum?

The military history museum of Dresden contained a chronological exhibition in the past, which has been completely renewed under our lead in the existing part of the building. But more importantly, we added the ‘theme parcours’ and the ‘anthropological questions.’ For this important new approach of looking at German military history we created an architectural intervention in which we cut a wedge into the historical structure. We opened a space to think about organised violence which interrupts the chronological exhibition at the most sensible points of German history, which are the First and Second World Wars.

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Source: Image by Hufton + Crow

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Even though the museum is a national museum, it was important to us to link the design to the city of Dresden. The angle of the wedge is exactly the angle which the bombs of the Second World War cut into the city of Dresden. The wedge of the museum points exactly to the airspace above a stadium that bombers used as a landmark to release the bombs. In the tip of the wedge, the facade opens up and allows a view towards today’s panorama of Dresden. Thus the design of the museum memorialises the past destruction of Dresden but at the same time links the museum to the rebuilt city and the future.

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Source: Image by Hufton + Crow

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

The historical Neoclassic facade with its triumphal arch did not seem adequate as a welcoming gesture for a German military history museum. Instead we transformed this facade by an intervention that opens a totally new perspective but at the same time does not destroy the historical substance: the wedge cutting through the historical facade gives a strong sign for renewal. Old and new form a strong contrast. The old building is massive, closed and horizontal and represents the autocratic system of its time while the new wedge is light, transparent and vertical and represents the democratic society of today.

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Source: Image by Hufton + Crow

Dresden Military Museum by Studio Libeskind

Q&A with YAC

The YAC team discuss their ambitions for the competition

Why are you holding a contest to transform the Military Fortress of Capo d’Orso in Palau?

The military fortress of Capo d’Orso in Palau is a place where memory becomes nearly physical and tangible and where the memory of the past is stunningly real and intensively present. It is sculpted in the granite of a monumental coast. From its bastions, the luxurious yachts sailing in the Mediterranean Sea evoke the English galleons that chased the Napoleonic fleet in the same sea stretch centuries ago. Here wars have ended, but the military fortress has lived on – a forgotten architecture that has survived its own purpose. It represents the legacy of difficult times when the pages of history were written by the steel of bayonets and cannons. To a certain extent, it is a history that is too recent and too hard to tell. However, it is crucial to pass this history on to the new generations.

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

An ideas competition is the best way for designers to develop and show their talent. Our aim is fostering research in architecture and design. Competitors are asked to put their creativity forward and propose creative projects that respect the architectural and historic features of our competition’s locations. Moreover, the jurors will evaluate projects coming from all over the world. YAC believes that culture also shapes the architectural approach, therefore it is very enriching to be able to have plenty of completely different visions on the same project.

What is your vision for the new military museum?

The abandoned military fortress is to become a new cultural hub which attracts visitors from all over the world. The main purpose of the competition is to design a mIlitary museum that can showcase the wars and battles that have touched this stretch of land and sea during the past two centuries, surrounded by many other facilities that can improve the visiting experience. The brief lists different possible functional proposals for the new vision of the Military Fortress of Capo D’Orso in Palau, although the composition of the whole scenario is under the total discretion of the designers. In the process of designing, YAC suggests reflecting on how to combine ancient and contemporary architecture respecting the original composition of the site. The designers are asked to produce an innovative project; the proposals can be traditional or high-tech, as long as they relate to and enhance the existing architecture and the surrounding area. YAC requires that all projects be inspired by eco-compatibility and environmental eco-sustainability.

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

Capo d’Orso fortress, Sardinia

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Students, graduates, architects, and professionals can take part in our competitions and they are all very welcome to bring along their expertise and new visions or practices. After having being judged by world-renowned distinguished architects, in addition to a total of €20,000 in prize money, the winner and the awarded projects will be published on famous Italian and international platforms and magazines and will be showcased at Italian and International architectural exhibitions.