Whoever flies will walk on earth
looking at the sky.
Because there he went
and there he’ll want to return.
Leonardo da Vinci
Saving an architectural ruin means keeping the essence of architecture alive: this does not only mean saving old stones and bricks, but also giving new life to the system of relations between people, natural environment and built background.
The purpose of the restoration is therefore conservative and proactive: the aim is to take care of the delicate state of this building but above all re-organize signs imprinted on the territory to create a new system of relationships.
The design choice is very clear and very strong: do not insert and do not take away anything that history and time have add or removed from the original inner Castle.
At the same time, the purpose is to give new meaning to the castle-hill system as a unitary presence. The “Rocca” must become again a meeting point between the landscape guides: network of hilly paths (E / W) and main roads / rivers (N / S) that connect Lucca, Pisa and the nearby smaller cities.
Depriving the promontory of the vegetation that over time had covered it, the dark rock -suspended between artifice and nature- will become like a huge sculpture on a new territorial scale.
The natural landscape is remodeled through the project of a system of cultivated terraces, descending towards the urban center, mediating the height difference between the hills and the plain.
Rocca and Torri recover the function of the nodes of a territorial network while the paths become the backbone of the enjoyment of the landscape.
These paths culminate in the interior of the Rocca where the quarterdeck, the protagonist of this space, constitutes an element of order at the center of a large empty-active square.
The preservation of the precious uniqueness of the Rocca is possible only by not altering the original functioning, working in close connection between historical, landscape and archaeological research.
The dialectic between pre-existence and new functions was obtained by the use of a contemporary architectural language, placing the new building outside - at the foot - of the Rocca.
The connecting tunnel-museum closely recalls the Renaissance intervention by Antonio da Sangallo: in this way the ancient access through the Pisan gate was also restored, to facilitate the organization of events and routes within the fortress.
The new additions (museum, bar, restaurant, auditorium, typical products, climbing services, hostel) are located at the foot of the new Tower which has a strong symbolic value.
A new Tower is a symbol of restart, “From Earth to Sky”: a new life for Ripafratta that will be possible only by respecting both the ancient sensibility and the spirit of our time.