Designing the Isarco and Rienza rivers as landscape and ecological hydraulic machines

The Isarco and Rienza rivers have inconstant hydraulic conditions that may cause disastrous floods on the town of Bressanone. The project aims to solve the flooding problem by harmonizing the engineering works with the urban landscape solutions and ecological needs.

The relationship between water and the town of Bressanone is deeply grounded in the town structure, its history, and the evolution of its urban texture. The relationship between Bressanone and its rivers has always been closely interconnected with the growth and functioning of the urban system. A series of policies and uses contributed to changing this relationship over time. This project proposal works with this generative principle. It analyses the dynamics of the current urban morphology and traces its hypothetical evolution in order to foresee its future stage. By so doing, we hope to endorse the new policies that wish to reclaim the town’s original relationship with water through new forms of water safety plans and high-quality urban facilities.

Policies regarding water nowadays are no longer concerned with defense and hygiene (i.e. medieval trenches and sewage disposal channels) or with exploiting the motive power of water (i.e. water conduits and, later on, hydroelectric plants). Today they aim to ensure habitability and safety (functionality) and to reintegrate and update the relationship between urban spaces and rivers, and between settlements and nature. Our project develops along these lines and hopes to offer solutions that fit with the abovementioned policies and vision.

The project is especially concerned with the search of a dynamic equilibrium after the flow rate of the two rivers has changed. The whole system functions like an ecological hydraulic machine able to adapt to changing conditions (e.g. different imposed equilibriums) thanks to flood control devices such as channel spillways. This ability to self-regulate can be schematized through the regulation of three basic scenarios that discretize the performance of the machine-town-nature system.

Our proposal aims to investigate new ways to integrate hydraulics, urban studies, and ecology. The hydraulic machine integrated with the town generates spatio-temporal transition phases, providing the river with new spaces to restore its morphology and renew its capacity to host life. The project is therefore based on the assumption that, through the overcoming of traditional practices, technology may support the development of new ecologies.

Design Competition, 2015, “Città-Paese-Fiume: Area Fluviale Valle Isarco-Bressanone”

Work group

Arch. Vincenzo Cribari (coordinator), Arch. Stefania Staniscia (urbanism & landscape architecture), Arch. Giovanni Roncador (architecture), Arch. Marco Malosini (urbanism),  Dott. Maurizio Siligardi (river ecology), Ing. Raffaele Ferrari (hydraulic engineering), Ing. Reinhold Palla (infrastructure and geotechnical engineering).

Collaborators: Ing. Anna Vecchietti (hydraulic engineering), Arch. Paolo Dongilli (architecture), Antonio Iannone (dipl. ing. junior), Francesca Bertè (student), Giulia Boller (student), Arianna Somamdossi (student), Sabina Tonelli (student).




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