Vincenzo Latina. Interior courtyard of the Bottary block, Ortygia, Syracuse

autore: Vincenzo Latina


The Bottari Block courtyard is in the most stratified part of the island of Ortigia, the Greek heart of Syracuse, an ancient Corinthian colony. It was conceived as part of an organic system of works programmed by the Detailed Town Plan of Ortigia to restore a recuperate the innermost parts of several blocks in the historic town center.
The Bottari quarter is located in the North-West area of the island near the temple of Athens and the remains of the Ionic temple in Palazzo Senatorio. It preserves the original Greek road network although modified by subsequent overlays which respect the internal limits of the ancient blocks. The recomposition enacted by Latina can be summed up as the opening of a pathway of light and air in the heart of an area which has been used, for several decades, primarily as a dump.
This implied, in the first place, the “targeted” demolition of recent constructions.
The project is conceived as an “open” intervention or, better yet, as “sensitive”: architectural fragments hidden below the refuse and recuperated through repossession.
This use of ruins has led to the area to be conceived as a quarry where rediscovered blocks become construction material for the new structure.
The narrow road that passes through the courtyard emphasizes the East-West orientation that characterized the Hippodamean road structure of Syracuse, brought to light during several archaeological campaigns. The road is recognized and claimed to be an act of “refoundation”, as a direct descendent of the narrow roads – the stenopoi – that scanned the ancient system connecting Ronco dei Cassari with via Cavour. In this way the heart of the block is reopened in the direction of its edges.
The stenopos, made with various size slabs of 7 cm thick hard Modica limestone laid in “opus incertum”, intercepts the existing structures and becomes the measure of existing stratifications. It become, by recomposing its fragmentary aspects, a metaphor of the block’s thousands of years of history of. The new ten Greek feet wide (296 millimeters each according to the Doric metric system) path gives order to the irregular structure of the spaces and highlights the different architectural presences.
The buttresses and the building facades mark the edge of the area. They maintain the diversified volumes of the building and the formal variety of the surroundin

Parole chiave: Siracusa, Ortigia, Corte Bottari