Vincenzo Reale. Thesis Special* // (iso)communication

Vincenzo Reale

Thesis Special*

University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Thesis Supervisors: Alessio Erioli and Ludovico Lombardi



“(Iso)Communication, tensional integrities and intensive connections through a peripheral park of Bologna” is the title of my fifth year’s thesis (march 2010) at Bologna University, in which themes such as tensegrity, form-finding, material and structural properties of complex systems, parameterization of physical behaviours, interaction of surfaces and components with external force fields, rapid prototyping techniques were discussed, in the search of elegance through a perpetual dialectics of complexity and refinement.

“ISO: a combining form meaning “equal,” used in the formation of compound words: isochromatic; [..]
Communication: a process by which information is exchanged through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviour [..] the various methods of sending information between people and places.

You may recognize how the lack or failure of “communication”, intended as an exchange of information and data in complex systems, is a potential cause of the paralysis, stagnation or necrosis of the systems themselves.
The definition of hyper connected systems, where, each time a channel is prevented, others become automatically activated and competitive, or where different channels operate simultaneously, even in non-critical situations, enables them to provide not only optimal performances (albeit potentially less effective than a single “ad hoc” solution) but also adaptable and dynamic responses to other external stimuli, and leads to more globally efficient solutions.

The Park (“Parco dei pini”) in Pontelungo (a suburb of Bologna) shows a chronic lack of communication between the parts that make up the system. Several critical issues come from this lack (degradation, abandonment, social dangerousness, etc. …). The goal then becomes to define a sustainable and highly connected system that weaves the different parts of the site and develops their potential, ending critical situations and creating a series of dynamic interactions that lead to positive mutations.

The hyper-connection is translated in breaking down visible / invisible barriers which create discontinuities in the area, in developing landmarks, shelters and crossing paths where these are lacking, but also in the definition of a hyper-connected constructive system, where the efforts to which the structure is locally subjected are distributed globally across the whole architectonical organism making it flexible and resistant to the changing of external conditions.”

The definition of the project starts from the needs expressed by Iceberg Notice 2008, involving the Pontelungo’s area on the outskirts of Bologna. The notice points out how the PSC (Structural City Plan) has selected a number of central places particularly relevant to ensure and enhance the livability of Bologna at the scale of neighbourhood.
Pontelungo and its park were recognized as an area with potentialities to be developed in order to achieve a better level of life for its inhabitants and for the whole city as well.

The area is about six kilometres from the inner city of Bologna and it is connected to it trough a main thoroughfare (via Emilia) and well served with public transport (buses). In front of its park there is a little station of a local train line.
The park is not viewed by the neighbourhood as a place for aggregation but it is lived as a scar in the city fabric because it has been abandoned and it is considered dangerous, always almost completely desert, as photo analysis can depict.
It is divided in two parts. The upper part is not accessible for the inhabitants because of artesian aquifers managed by a private company. It has been planned to be re-open in about ten years.

 Map of the site arboreal conditions through different periods of the year.

Link the spatial organization with the possible park’s users: the neighbourhood inhabitants, people from other parts of the city who come to the theatre and, once inside the system, magnetized by other activities and, finally, school children which live the park as a collection of entertainments and opportunities.

The hyper connections of paths suggests me the idea of an interlaced structural system, and this led me to deepen my knowledge about “tensegrity

We can find plenty of biological tensegrity‘s examples in biological world

The definition of components started from the morphology’s analysis of the human vertebrae: how they modify themselves from the sacrum to the first cervical and how they remain similar to each others. Modifications arise due to different position and different roles that every different vertebra sustains.

The model was designed with rhinoceros trying to have simplest bi-dimensional pieces. Because I do not own a laser cutter it was cut in wood manually with the help of a carpenter, and later sprayed with white paint.




After the physical test a more complex component, still tetrahedrical, was develop and its spreading was conceived not only in a linear way but also in space to create an enclosing surface. Different values for relative positions, angles, distances and also scale created different effects.


The next step was to develop tense components as surfaces and not as wires. To achieve this results the lines connecting a piece to another were substituted by membranes. And the membranes were shaped to reduce their impact both on material amount and porosity of the structure.

 Another interesting thing was that the surface, now differentiated in porosity degree and surface effects, kept offering multiple and alternative paths and choices for the experience and the crossing of the park .


Some photomatches (below):


In the end, the physical modelling of a real piece of this architecture finally came out. This process was very stressing because I had to fight with a very long list of unexpected problems.





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