Castello di Sermoneta

Castello di Sermoneta has a plethora of fascinating construction details and small spaces waiting to be explored. 

The entrance to the castle is a series of gates, drawbridges and winding steps – designed to weaken the enemy’s attack. There are also a couple of ‘roof lights’ which are holes right on top of gates, so defenders could pour down hot oil and stones onto their unwelcomed guests in battle. 

What I liked the most about the castle is perhaps its deep windows, sometimes going up to 3 metres deep. 

What is peculiar about these windows is that even though it is a castle, a number of these alcove spaces are meant as quiet reading spaces for its residents (Pope’s relatives). So although it is an impenetrable castle from the outside, with its rough stones and guarded gates, on the inside, it gives an impression of peace and tranquility. 

Another space that I found different is the horse stables. Covered with straws on the roof to withhold heat in the underground room, the stable can hold twenty horses. It is probably the definition of a medieval stable. I could almost see the knights preparing for battle, sense the horses getting uneasy, smell the blood and sweat and feel the incoming doom. The eeriness of the arched stable is increased tenfold with the rough texture of the straw roof – giving it an almost grotto-like atmosphere.

The internal courtyard is a story in itself. There are at least five different types of facades looking onto the courtyard, each working with the individual building’s history, function and aesthetics. 

Public Space, Streets and Gates

What is the function of ‘street gates’ in urban villages? How do they participate in making the enclosure of public space? What are the existing boundaries of public space (skins/walls/lines) in the urban village spaces?

If Camillo Sitte is speaking against technocratic developments of city design using square building blocks and instead making design through the negative spaces, can we design starting from the movement of the skin as a guideline of separation of circulation and access? The building blocks then come at a second stage to occupy the left-overs from circulation?

Enclosure, Territory and Entity

What am I arguing for in the project? Is it for enclosure? Not really. It is not the act of enclosure now but the marking and making of a territory – that something is different and needs to be treated differently. The principles and system of treating it? Not entirely sure yet.

Where does this concept then come from? Is making a territory a form of protection? A form of defense against the outside? Yes, then in that sense it still acts as a wall – something that encloses. The wall is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘A continuous vertical brick or stone structure that encloses or divides an area of land’ or ‘A thing regarded as a protective or restrictive barrier.’

Then what is a skin? To a certain extent then what I am proposing is not a wall but a ‘line’. a zoning line gives the space a different denomination. Why does it need to have a physical presence in a vertical skin/wall? It does not necessarily.