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Post by: Camila da Paz | Source: Archilovers

There are around 16.000 abandoned quarries in Italy, most of them marble quarries. Although the crisis in the construction sector has actually contributed to reducing the amount of stone extracted, the numbers are still impressive: over one billion euros in revenue. The breathtaking landscapes of marble quarries, shaped by the human hand, has an incredible evocative power. It still echoes from its industrialized past, where man has dug ceaselessly to extract a noble material, shaping the landscape for eternity, leaving its ineffaceable trace in the territory.

Extraction sustains our society, and even in recent decades we have been advancing technologically, we have not progressed enough that slowing down the pace would be possible. We rarely stop to think about the origin of the materials which makes up the building business, or the raw materials necessary to the endless demands of contemporary human activity. And so, as the world population has become more urban, the landscapes that provide these raw materials become more remote and spatially distant from the daily view.

And it is within these numbers, but yet also this enormous architectural potential that the project MARMOR III, by Hannes Peer Architecture, comes into play. This project intends to give several possible strategic but also provocative answers to the following questions: What to do with these abandoned sites? How can our actions contribute to the nature? How can the nature contribute to our way of life?

The real architectural provocation here is to actually 'live in marble', with this simple evocative slogan and through the images provided the viewers mind is immediately transported into a modern interpretation of a penthouse in the midst of a marble quarry with spectacular views, minimalist residential units immersed in marble, a thermal bath entirely excavated in a quarry. That is when the viewer realizes that this project is realistic, we can imagine to actually live in one of those spaces, surrounded by marble in an archaic yet hyper modern and minimalist environment.

Water as added element nourishes a new ecosystem that extends outward. While inhabiting the spaces deep within the mountain, the visitor gets the true sense of the land altering process of marble mining while being able to take in the breath taking experience of inhabiting these spaces, once only seen by the eyes of the men and woman who excavated the stone. It is a true escape from our busy lives to become one with the natural environment. We, as humans, have the opportunity to benefit the environment and all living things. It is our relationships with the environment and other species that make us part of an ecosystem.

In proposing the intervention in different marble quarries, in addition to readjust the space for a new use, it highlights an atmosphere that encourages the visitor to reflect on the impacts caused by the extraction of materials, represented the contrast between human scale and the monumentality of the site. At the same time the visitor or inhabitant will have as well a very intimate relationship with the marble as material but also with marble in its purest architectural form.

Marmor III proposes a strategic reuse of these abandoned marble quarries. These different site specific architectural interventions would reconfigure the former volumes excavated for marble extraction and excavating new ones to better adapt the different project typologies. Meanders of sculptural porosity and unique architectural compositions are created by occupying and modifying the voids of each quarry. The building approach is somewhere between architecture and nature, it is an expression of diversified architectures that live between raw and glossy, modular and sculptural, opaque and transparent, solid and void.

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