top of page

in Orbetello


Project by: Kaicheng, Junye & Zhi


In the recent few decades, the global warming has caused many concerns. The rising sea level is one of them, it forces people to spend a great amount of money on constructing dams to reclaim their land, or otherwise they have to move to other places. In this project, we do not want to treat the rising sea level as a restriction, instead we would like to take advantage of it, to engage with the water, and thus regarding the rising sea level as a design opportunity.


Through this engagement, we would like to express the urgency of the global warming issue, remind people that when it reaches a certain tipping point, the changes will be irreversible.


The site of the project is located at Orbetello, it is a town that it is only a few meters higher than the water level and is surrounded by two lagoons on both sides. Besides the ambition of engaging with the rising water, we would like our project to blend into the local site, so we purpose our design base on the local history and typology.


In this case, we did research for the contexts near our selected site, and the typology of the Orbetello. We found out the genre of Orbetello’s typology is inherited from Rome and Florence, so we picked Florence’s typology as our inspiration to generate our design language, such as the loggia and the Medici corridor that provide different relationships between circulation and buildings. Besides, we also study the Venice’s typology to support our design for engaging the water. Furthermore, the tide analysis helps us conceptually imagine the relationship between constantly changing water level and the architecture, which allowed us to produce a set of conceptual section and axon to start our design.


The aero image of the existing site seems rich and intriguing, with museum, city wall, different kinds of sport courts, Harbor, and water, all arranged in a composition with aesthetic. However, when we experience this space as a human scale and follow the existing circulation, the composition fragmentized, and can hardly be interpreted and appreciated. As a result, these facilities are now showing a tendency to be gradually forgotten.


The project is not about how to create a path that link the downtown area to the harbor and parks directly to create convenience and efficiency, instead it aims to activate the existing condition of the site and engage with it. Thus, we intentionally create a path that forcing people to walk through the site in a meander way, both in terms of plane movement and in terms of height difference. The zigzagging plane movements urge them to interact with the existing site and the new programs from different perspectives; while the height difference enable them to experience the space above the water, on the same level with the water, and even underneath the water. The project takes the advantage of the existing composition and convey this aesthetics into a human perceivable scale.


The languages and the programs of the project are designed following the timeline from traditional to contemporary. People will enter and visit from the archeological exhibition of the Guzman to the public sport courts, then to the exhibition tower that is designed for recording the rising water level. In the tower, the exhibition platform for water would not be the flooding water from the lagoon, as it is impossible for lagoon water to rise at that level in the near future. Instead, the rainwater will be gathered as the water source to fill the water platform from top to bottom, to sarcastically mimic the sense that water level reaches the certain height. Becoming a reminder for people to be aware of this issue. After the tower, people will go through a corridor with seats, viewing platforms, and gardens around it to the exhibition of the Spanish munition factory. Then, people will continue to walk pass by the dam that controls the flooding tide in the inner ground reformation, to the exhibition of the original water airfield. In the airfield exhibition, the original structure inspired us to bring back some of its old design element, such as the arch shape structure that hangs a water airplane for the new exhibition design. After this exhibition, people will end their tour at the restaurant under the water, then take a boat on top of the restaurant back to the archeological Guzman Museum.

bottom of page