San Berillo Master Plan

The neighbourhood of San Berillo in Catania, Sicilly has always had a negative reputation. An ample demolition took place here in 1958, after brothels were banned, leaving 30.000 people displaced or homeless – an action linked to Vatican’s Societá Generale Immobiliare. The problems amplified and continue to exist this day. The public administration wishes to solve the urban degeneration of this area of Catania by implementing architect Mario Cucinella‘s 2012 rehabilitation master plan proposal.

San Berillo Masterplan - Courtesy of Mario Cucinella

San Berillo Masterplan – Courtesy of Mario Cucinella

The main aim of this project is to connect the city center to the Ionian Sea coast, with the help of a large pedestrian boulevard. The urban void was redefined by tracing a new east-west axis and connecting the street grid. All of the existing fabric, functions and transport routes were taken into consideration – for example, taking the underground metro line as a design articulation. The architectural concept is based on a tectonic geometry realized with four intertwining plates accessible by ramps or stairs, pierced with interior green courtyards, which form loggias and terraces. The result is a 3D urban square inspired the gardens of Babylon.

San Berillo Masterplan - Courtesy of Mario Cucinella

San Berillo Masterplan – Courtesy of Mario Cucinella

The two main functions of this mixed-use project are residential and shopping. The apartment buildings work as a buffer to the existing residential area, while the main 3D structure of the ‘square’ holds shopping and leisure facilities. The shopping area is an attractive urban mall which offers an alternative to the problematic suburban shopping centers – which tend to look like concrete boxes and are placed in unfortunate places. The horizontal layout of the project ends with a hotel, as a tall urban landmark, overlooking the urban squares and pedestrian boulevard, as well as the city skyline and sea coast.

San Berillo Masterplan - Courtesy of Mario Cucinella, Render by Cristian Chierici, CC 79

San Berillo Masterplan – Courtesy of Mario Cucinella, Render by Cristian Chierici, CC 79

Cucinella’s 240.000 sqm project was designed according to the scale of the urban fabric, following sustainable principles. The intervention aims to return the public space to its citizen. The process of urban regeneration is complex and tackles sensitive social and economical problems of the local community. With the attractive public areas and functions this project offers, the investors hope to revitalize the neighborhood of San Berillo and to create a place where people feel safe and respected.

By Ana Cosma

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