Variation of modes of use: functions, users, schedules, etc.

Relationship between the ownership and the form of the investment that allows the transformation

Variation of the overall dimensions of the building

Proportional relationship between new spaces and existing spaces

Relationship between the structural adjustments and the existing structure

Relationship between the forms and types of pre-existing materials and those of the new intervention

Relationship between the image of the new and the image of the existing (mimesis / contrast)

Pasquale Miano Studio – Edge areas urban renewal: the historical core and the Early Christian basilicas of Cimitile

PROJECT - Main Infos

PROJECT: Pasquale Miano Studio – Edge areas urban renewal: the historical core and the Early Christian basilicas of Cimitile

LOCATION: Cimitile (NA)

YEAR: 2017

ARCHITECT / FIRM: Pasquale Miano Studio

BUYER: Municipality of Cimitile (NA)

SURFACE: 6.880 sqm

PRICE: € 1.950.000

Despite the increasing number of archaeological studies, the 4th-century-old Early Christian settlement in Cimitile still represents an urban-architectural episode difficult to be interpreted, as archaeologist Lehmann pointed out few years ago. To both expand the visited areas and regain open spaces for citizens, a work on-site has been developed over the years, a unitary process in which adopted techniques and technologies and archaeological, urban, architectural survey have been continuously intertwined with design project, aiming to give first significant results from the point of view of attraction and realization. In particular, for the intervention on the edge redefinition in Via Pozzo Nuovo, during the archaeological excavations planned for the realization of the high-low levels connection to the basilicas, it was possible to understand that, below some abandoned houses in Cimitile historic center, there were significant spaces connected to the “new basilica”, object of previous studies and reconstructions made by Gino Chierici and other archaeologists. As the excavations were carried on, different design proposals have been elaborated, conceived like many different interpretations on the topic of connection, with the intent of choosing a solution that, while not aspiring to become definitive, has eventually led to a deep renewal in the configuration, the image and the perception of the basilicas themselves.

WHAT - Program

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new program is in balance with the existing one.

Addressing the theme of redefining the relations between Early Christian basilicas and Cimitile urban center has basically meant working on two main issues. The first concerned the identification of the modalities through which extending the spaces belonging to the basilicas, according to a controlled process of void expansion. Areas for the execution of new and significant archaeological excavations have been selected together with spaces to be designed in order to widen the areas of interrelation between sacred buildings and their surroundings. The second question, closely intertwined with the first one, concerned the identification of a series of urban interventions through which achieving the dual purpose of the improvement and redevelopment of the historic central areas and the creation of new systems of public facilities, serving the basilicas and at the same time the urban core.

WHO - Financing

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: Funding mostly made by the original owner, for a minor part by another investor.

The intervention was financed by the Municipality of Cimitile (NA).

HOW MUCH - Absolute Dimensions


PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions increase moderately with respect to the pre-existing surface.


PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: The overall dimensions increase moderately with respect to the pre-existing volume.

The general and unitary objective of these interventions was the construction of a newly conceived “urban archaeological park”, able to overcome the logic of the fence, gradually involving the historic urban areas of Cimitile, until it may coincide with the entire center of the oldest plant of the town. In this sense, it is possible to interpret the central historic areas of Cimitile as an urban archaeological park, in which two cities coexist, “the city of the basilicas”, to be brought back to light and to be enhanced, and the core of the historical Cimitile, yet currently living, with its inhabitants and its activities, with its prospective of economic and cultural rebirth. The park of the basilicas in Cimitile may be able to assume in this way considerable territorial relevance and be connected to other presences and specificities traceable in the Nola area, from the Castelcicala hill to the Roman amphitheaters in Nola, to the Early Christian architecture of the Caves of S. Michele Avella, just to provide a few examples. In the first place, a “program of integrated interventions, aimed at the recovery of historical urban areas around the basilica complex” has been provided in Cimitile. A program based on a mechanism of enlargement of urban public spaces which, starting from the current historical-archaeological area of ​​the basilicas, involves the places in immediate contact with them in order to, afterwards, by using the grafts to the area, start reasoning about the external viability with some edge areas located along them.

HOW MUCH - Relative Dimensions

PREVALENT CONSERVATION / CONTINUITY: Pre-existing spaces are prevalent with respect to new spaces.

The theme of the entrance to the area of the basilicas represents an aspect of fundamental importance. By analyzing it in-depth, the extraordinary overlapping and intersecting of architectural elements and spaces have been more and more clearly emerging, witnessing the close interrelation between the archaeological site and the urban center. The utmost expression of this encounter among different phases of the history of Cimitile materializes where, in Vico Arco, with “the Arco Santo” and in vico Mautone with the eighteenth-century church as background, it is possible to perceive, although with considerable difficulty, the relations between the Early Christian settlements and the architectural structures of subsequent ages. After having realized limited interventions to improve accessibility from vico Arco and vico Mautone, the topic of the entrance from via Pozzo Nuovo has been deepened, working on an area located in a raised position compared to the current level of the basilicas. Before the intervention, the area used to be in a state of neglect, with small partly ruined buildings, of which the perimeter walls in tufa stone could still be traced and from their openings a large view to the area of the basilicas opened up, at a considerably lower altitude.

HOW - Design Strategy STRUCTURE

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The supporting structure is composed in a balanced way by pre-existing structures and new structures.

As the excavations progressed, different proposals have been developed, in which the issues of the covering-protective roof, of the high-low access-connection and the accessibility to the findings were investigated, proposing design hypotheses in which the most significant attempt has been to balance the various aspects. In this work, the progress of the archaeological excavations during the realization of the architectural intervention has imposed the construction of a design process, centered on the drafting of a sequence of projects, conceived as completed answers, yet to be continuously updated. At some point it was necessary to close a phase of the intervention, creating a solution that does not aspire to be definitive, that although in any case determines a new equilibrium, corresponding to the phase of the financed works.

HOW - Design Strategy MATERIAL

TOTAL REPLACEMENT / DISCONTINUITY: The materials chosen for the new intervention are completely different from the pre-existing ones.

A cor-ten steel structure protects and covers the archaeological excavations: the cover is not practicable, it is at two different levels, alluding to the probable variability of the configuration and the heights of the side chapels of the basilica nova; the closing steel foils along the major sides of the roof define a compact shape, with diversified cuts, through which the light filters characterizing the interiors and at the same time opening completely new views towards the basilicas. In order not to compromise in any way the unity of the excavated findings, in the adopted solution a walkway crosses the new particular interior space, allowing a top view of the ruins and creating a continuous path that penetrates into the open spaces of the originally planned garden. In this way a total continuity is realized between the open spaces and the covered spaces. The upper garden has thus become an element of the archaeological area of the basilicas and no longer a margin, and in this sense the project has tried to complete the process of expansion of the void that underlied all the design approach to the theme of the basilicas.

HOW - Design Strategy IMAGE

BALANCE BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND REPLACEMENT: The new intervention balances elements of continuity and discontinuity with respect to existing structures.

The ambitious aim of the project has been to create a contemporary urban piece, in which the archaeological research will have to continue, in which the idea of ​​an urban archaeological park should be more and more settled, conceiving it in the contemporary sense of open and multiform space and not like an enclosure opposed to the city. Ultimately, a fundamental theme of reflection has concerned the spatial relations between ancient architecture and the grafted contemporary elements. A relation in which the play of light and shadow, suggested by the cuts of the protective envelope, and the staggered levels between the high crossing path and the bottom part, laid the foundations for a profound dialogue. A dialogue that feeds on the material diversity of the contemporary grafts, which fully declare their different nature, breaking away with slight advances and retreats from the masonry, including that of the city built on the basilicas, which gets back to be in this way completely involved.