Roccascalegna Observatory Houses

Roccascalegna takes its name from the amalgamation of the words Rocca, meaning Castle, and Scalegna (scala + legna),meaning Wooden Ladder—in ancient times, the wooden ladder was the only means of access to the Castle, as depicted in the town’s logo. In its attempt to reinforce Roccascalegna’s identity and solve the castle’s accessibility issue, this project proposes the construction of an auxiliary structure clad in wood (Scalegna) that stretches from the main terrace of the castle, and, while creating additional spaces for the observatory, provides a direct connection to the lower part of the site where the observatory houses are distributed. The intervention does not supersede history but rather reinvigorates it by blending in modernity through the sensitive use of material for surfaces and furniture and proportions adapted to fit the site and enhance the dramatic look of the castle.

The Scalegna is one of the two volumes that compose the complex; it contains a stairway and an elevator. The second volume, a lateral extrusion of the Scalegna, contains an enclosed café, bookshop, and gallery. Right above it, a large terrace accommodates multiple activities and events for visitors to enjoy the beautiful views and mystic experience. At the top of the Scalegna, a skywalk links the main castle’s terrace to the open sky, creating an ascension towards a feeling of infinite for visitors. This new connection system facilitates the movement and storage of equipment and exploits the terraces’ exposure to the sky depending on the occasion. As such, a dome is not included in the design but may be added in the future contingent on the wish of the client.

The design and organization of the accommodations guarantees guests unobstructed horizontal views from the interior spaces and open vertical views from the outdoor terraces. The apartments, houses, and villa adopt the same conceptual idea: sunken, reinforced concrete structures of the same width but different length blend into the hillside, becoming part of the scenery and offering an immersive natural experience for the guests. The cabins are designed to be reminiscent of extruded personal windows, creating an intimate environment suitable for a one-night stay enveloped by the stars.

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