project "INTERNATIONAL DESIGN CENTER, REBUILDING OF THE
QUARRY NEAR PUSIANO, ITALY" was designed in Italy on meeting
of 10 architects from East Europe (1st-6th July 1990),
invited to solve the ecological problem of the limestone
quarry near Pusiano.
The comments of the jury resumed by its chairman Enzo
"This is the only project from the presented ideas that
solves the problem. And in the addition, the most artistic
This project was presented also at Ecological Conference
"Eco-shield" in Varna, Bulgaria (18th-20th May1994), sponsored
by American Agency Of International Development.
What was the real reason for organizing the symposium
The Merone factory, situated to the North of Milan and
to the East of Como, at present one of the largest producers
of cement in Europe, has faced the problem raised by the
extraction of the basic stuff for producing cement - limestone.
The factory is visible in the foreground, the Pusiano
lake with the village on its bank is in the middle distance
and the two quarries are in the background. Leftside is
the abandoned quarry exploited to complete exhaustion,
which in fact has been the main topic of our research.
The active quarry is on the right in perspective to be
confronted by the same problem. The slides being shown
at the moment will give us an idea of the geological structure
of the mountain slope, as well as some information about
the way this factory has daily control over the maintenance
of the ecological balance in the quarries. In spite of
the precautions however, the abandoned quarry has actually
been a bleeding wound in the flesh of the mountain slope
and developing cement industry will obviously multiply
such wounds day bay day. That's why the factory has started
a search for any healing ideas.
The second reason for organizing this meeting was the
suggestion of the Italian authorities to turn the abandoned
quarry into a dung-hill. The native people supported by
their mayor asked the professors of architecture in Milan
to create new ideas of a different exploitation of the
quarry. As a result the project of situating an International
Design Center in the quarry has originated. When we, having
been invited by native people, arrived in Pusiano, an
exhibition of the pieces of the world leading masters
of design had already been presented in the conference
hall of the local school. There were exposed works of
Gae Aulenti, Mario Belini, Rodolfo Bonetto, Achille Castilionni,
Vico Magistreti, Enzo Mari, Alessandro Mendini, Bruno
Munari, Ettore Sottsass, Marco Zanuso, Italo Antico, Walter
Ballmer, Augusto Garau, Horacio Garsia Rossi, Gaetano
Kanizsa, Guiseppe Minoretti, Gracia Varisco, Roberto Veccione
and Shizuco Yoshikawa and some of them were attending
the discussion of our projects. Enzo Mari added his jocular
explanation to my project that it wouldn't change the
function of the quarry demanded by the Italian authorities.
In his view it would practically remain a dung-hill but
for the declined pieces of the world design.
It is no chance that the topic was given the title "In
and out of the hole" by the organizers. It was really
a huge pit in the mountain with the size of an average
volcano crater (350 m long and 100 m wide), having the
depth of a four to five-storey facility. The texture of
the mountain slope had been damaged upwards as well. The
two existing tunnels, having served as a passage for trucks,
are quite obvious in the model. Under the road, on which
they have been situated, the slope is very steep too.
The rocks are visible from the distance, respectively
the facilities would be visible as well. They would be
invisible in the foreground, however, because of the declivity
of the slope. The metal construction spanning over the
entire facility would carry exactly the same information
function, as well as to lit the square area and to install
temporary tent coverings. The main urbanistic idea of
the project is very simple. The whole area would be divided
into strips parallel to the rock 6 m in width and the
separate facilities would be built according to the relevant
How did it all occur in my mind? In my opinion, there's
no wasted time in human's life. Before I started studying
architecture, I had completed two terms in dam-construction.
I liked engineering geology very much. At that time I
had no idea that fifteen years later, passing through
a tunnel, I would feel a water-drop falling on my hair.
I would look upwards and notice the stratums arranged
in a plan. At that moment the words "GEOTECTONICS" and
"ARCHITECTONICS" tingled in my mind. Getting out of the
tunnel I had the most impressing vision I could ever imagine
- an imposing plastic composition dipped in space, in
which we, people were so small and helpless facing the
nature and, yet so powerful in injuring it. The rest of
it was to sketch the rocks and to make the model I'm presenting
to you at the moment. The hand on the right of the model
appeared incidentally - exactly when my own hand shadowed
the model and I got the feeling of reaching to a complete
finali to everything. A critic in front of the TV cameras
at the conference compared this hand to the symbol of
design as a whole. My project was applauded and was interpreted
in different ways by different people, but I've just explained
how simple my motives were to design it this way.
Here follows the official paper of the project presented
at the conference in Pusiano.
"GEOTECTONICS and ARCHITECTONICS are the key words symbolizing
this project. Man has removed stratum after stratum from
the geotectonic texture so now we need to pile up layer
after layer to the architectonic structure. Similar is
the structure of the Indian pyramids resembling giant
bulbs. The project demonstrated by this model represents
only one of the possible stages of the development of
the complex. As long as it is build up now, everything
will look different after 500 years of permanent new strata
supplementation. After all the ideal shape of the slope
would be the one it had when untouched.
If we analyze the project realistically the construction
has to begin with the big hall which will house the objects
exhibited at this meeting. Further on, if some of the
artists create a larger exhibition and can afford it,
they will have a 6m stripe parallel to the rock. Available
in this stripe they will be able to construct freely their
exhibition area. Thanks God the quarry is large enough
and I hope it can shelter the artistic creations of many
designers who are to be born in the future. The studia
are situated in the left part of the complex. The right
part houses everything connected with the audience - lecture
and video rooms, restaurants, cafe, temporary exhibitions.
I presume only one point obligatory for the artistic image
- the application of natural materials. I have exposed
specimens of minerals and rocks I found in the quarry
near the model and you see, there is a great variety.
The green stripes located on the separate strata have
to be formed by the same verdure which is growing in the
quarry now. There are some herbs - millfoil, St.Johns
wort and the thyme. It made the local nature of Lombardia
familiar to me. I could easily feel the spirit of this
Man has to be sincere when designing. May be you will
see in my project roads and mountains, waves and sun,
stars and hands and who knows what else. In fact all this
was curved on the rocks and I just copied it from there."