Back off!

Celje (SI) - Runner-up


Authors: Flavio Martella (IT), Mariacristina D'Oria (IT) – PhD architects; Maria Vittoria Tesei (IT) – architect urbanist

m²ft architects: /
Mariacristina D'Oria: /

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VIDEO (by the team)

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1. How do you define the main issue of your project in relation with the theme “Living Cities Imagining architecture taking care of the milieus”? And in which way do you think your project can contribute to an ecological and/or social evolution?
Stara Cinkarna encourages thinking about the role of the city as a result of a human/non-human relationship in which the human perspective has dominated and sought to control the non-human. Therefore, in those anthropocentric and damaged environments, stepping back, i.e., working with distance and separation, necessarily (and even paradoxically) becomes the most sustainable and respectful technique to foster a new urban paradigm.

2. How did the issues of your design and the questions raised by the site mutation meet? 
“Back off” also translates distance into a temporal dimension, to answer the questions raised. Working within a long-term transitional time interval, the project intends to activate a gradual process of non-humans-remediation and caring, starting a regenerative process capable of actuating a landscape metamorphosis which, after having been sedimented and spread, gives back a reclaimed landscape to much more responsibilized humans.


3. Have you treated these issues previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
Europan has provided an extensive and complex bench to thoroughly test research, thoughts, and speculations that are embedded in our way, as architects, of conceiving the discipline. Our line of thinking is influenced by numerous writings and researches that have explored the concepts of intersectionality, the post-human, coexistence, trans-scalarity, and temporality. Apart from this, we always have in mind some reference projects on these themes that inspire our practices (see images).


4. How can your project be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
“Back off” is a spatio-temporal process that tends towards a reconstruction of social and individual practices to connect non-humans and humans within several stages. In fact, while in the first one the site transformation excludes humans by creating spatial distance to make nature recover the site, the subsequent phases work with a human subjectivity to reconcile the actors with the healed territory while taking care of it and creating new social synergies.


5. How did you form the team for the competition and if so what are the skills you associated?
As architects and researchers, we seek to design by pivoting on the intention of creating places and around the concepts of: sustainability, more-than-human, design by care, and human scale. Thus, the team was assembled to enhance this approach and bring out Stara Cinkarna's specific qualities. Each of us contributed with a relevant and multi-disciplinary point of view to these complex and articulated issues.

6. How could this prize help you in your professional career?
We believe that the Europan, and the award we gratefully received, is a moment to engage in a constructive dialogue with the municipality of Celje and the other designers to rethink established urban dynamics in search of potential new ways of shaping the living environment. A dialogue that can only grow us as designers and consolidate our ideas, helping us to better settle our practices.

Legal status: 
Team name: Flavio Martella (m²ft architects), Maria Vittoria Tesei (m²ft architects), Mariacristina D’Oria (reverberating cartographies)
Average age of the associates: 33 years old

Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? if so, which ones?
We collaborated together in several research projects and competitions such as the Concentrico Festival, when our urban installation “Il Pezzetto,” was one of the selected projects. Separately, as m²ft architects (Maria Vittoria Tesei, architect and urbanist, and Flavio Martella architect and Ph.D.Europaeus cum Laude) we have received several prizes in international architectural competitions of schools, public spaces, strategic masterplans, and we also received awards and recognitions for architectural research. In particular, apart from receiving the Special Mention for the Europan17 NL in ‘T Zoet, we received the First Prize for the “Futura'' Competition for a Middle School in Battipaglia (IT), for which we also delivered the technical and economic feasibility project; the Second Prize for the Urban Redevelopment of a Green Corridor in Putignano (IT), the Third prize for a Middle School and Sports Park in Scandicci (IT), and the Third Prize for the Urban Redevelopment of a Square in San Piero (IT). Mariacristina D'Oria, architect and Ph.D. (Doctor Europaeus), is establishing reverberating cartographies, [REC], a practice on the move between architecture, research, performance, and landscape, in Trieste and Madrid. She designed various multimedia installations (Delft, Trondheim, Hamburg, Trieste, Uppsala, Ljubljana) and urban projects. Recently, she developed preliminary feasibility studies for urban areas, including the former military site in the UNESCO town Cividale del Friuli (IT, 2022) and the old Tram station in Gorizia (IT, 2023). She is currently a researcher at the ETSAM, within the research group NUTaC (New Techniques, Architecture, City).