Bolzano is situated in a narrow Tyrol valley that barely allows urban expansion. To the south side, where the river Isarco winds its way to the sea, land suitable for building opens up. The alderman responsible for urban planning, himself an architect, formulated the brief for a green housing extension plan.
The present landscape resembles a patchwork quilt of vineyards and orchards, intermingled with farm buildings. This haphazard pattern has determined the design and organization of the extension plan. By concentrating housing in multi-faceted blocks and preserving most of the existing landscape, a smooth transition from the built-up area of Bolzano into the surrounding landscape is achieved.
Public transport (tram and bus) services the area and passes by on two sides. Cars and bikes find a connection on all four roads surrounding the site. Internally, Casanova is laced by a system of one main route interspersed with residential roads and recreational pathways. Parking for residents is provided underneath their homes, visitors can park at street level.
The plan features high density housing estates in spacious open fields. The fields together constitute a large urban park that not only is there for the residents to enjoy, but also adds recreational space to nearby neighborhoods. Existing farm buildings are integrated into the landscape. Within the building blocks, open space is divided into private garden lots surrounding a light well that connects the parking garage with the open air.
Castles in the surrounding countryside provided inspiration for the housing concept in the form of Castelli, massive building blocks containing a great variety of dwelling types. The garden courtyards are visible, but not accessible from the outside. Sharp cuts connect the inner spaces with outside and divide the building mass in distinct solids including: up to seven stories on the north side for apartment buildings, and single-family dwellings accommodated at a lower level at the south side of the site.
Cities derive their special character from a unifying urban concept that not only allows, but also stimulates individual diversity. Supervision by a coordinating architect guarantees that Casanova will be a very seductive development indeed.
Frits van Dongen