Italian hill towns, and by Giancarlo De Carlo's paradigmatic plan for Urbino. with its emphasis on the problem of inserting new urban fabric into the old and particularly on treating historic hill towns in such a way that the old and the new complement each other.

Another remarkable feature of the new mixed-use urban scheme of Canyeret is the emphasis it places on the provision of an infrastructure to help create pedestrian circu lation patterns, public spaces and easy access within the newly created urban continuum. At the time of writing, the streets have been paved and lit. old houses rehabilitated, new open spaces, accesses and public transport provided. The citadel has again become a focus of public life and the river bank has been repopulated. A park is being made and new roads link the court house to the cathedral and the city's commercial centre.

On the formal level, what is architecturally striking about the project is its composition out of two elements: a wall and a tower. These familiar, historical urban types of form are more than picturesque, fabulistic silhouettes raised next to the old centre. They are vessels whose spatial form offers ingenious solutions to practical constraints.

Given the abrupt slope of the hill and its unstable clay soil, a successful radical solu tion for the building was to give it the form of a wall running along the inflections of the rise-a kind of a concrete screen wall braced with stays tightened from behind, capable of supporting a long. thin, sinuous strip of a building. 250 metres long. 20 metres high and 11 metres deep. The snaking line of its roof offers a fortunate urbanistic opportunity to create a promenade, a rambla. that follows the cor. tours of the existing citadel wall. and. at ground level, a generous public space.

The tower, as a type of urban element, satisfies a functional need, like the wall. It t& linked to the citadel by a steel bridge and houses a lift which provides an excellent


vertical link for pedestrians between the cita del above and the town below.

But both the 'wall', pressed against the flank of the hill whose undulations repeat those of the wavelike form of the fortification above, and the tower", juxtaposed with the cathedral tower, serve another purpose in addition to the functional. They are symbolic of the regionallst character of the project.

This type of regionalism is different from the reg»onalism of the Franco period, which produced hallucinatory, theatrical settings to create replicas of entire towns. This was once the approach used in reconstructing regions devastated by the civil war - the famous regiones devastadas. The regionalism of the Barrio del Canyeret is also different from the equally scenographic. commercial kitsch architecture of tourism. It is. however, close to what we call 'critical regionalism": respect for regional elements which are combined with modernist avant-garde themes, compositional topoi that recall, as in the case of Valencia's Production Centre for Television (pp. 234-35). Leonidov's spatial experiments, provocatively using stark white cladding instead of the traditional brick. The use of such unexpected devices protects the viewer from the hypnotic use of historical settings and channels memory towards inventive rather than elegiac and regressive nostalgia. This critical regionallst experiment on an urban scale succeeds in endowing the city with what the American urban theoretician Kevin Lynch called 'imagea-bility' and in restoring vital urban functions at a time when the area was threatened by irreparable decay and fragmentation.

Bouchez • Assoclos

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