by Alexander Laing (AADipl 2012) & Francesco Matteo Belfiore (AADipl 2012)
Hackney, London 24 January 2013   At the end of a lengthy summer of recovery from Diploma, we entered the Costa Concordia competition partly as a way of whiling away the time whilst waiting to hear back from applications to offices and also to explore some of the ideas that we had been sharing throughout our fifth year. Winning the competition has really given us the impetus to collaborate on future competitions and to see them as a platform to continue the discussions that develop around our kitchen table. Francesco is currently working for AHMM and Alex assists the photographer Robi Rodriguez.   Project Text (credit: Aram Mooradian AADipl 2011)   At 21.30 on the 13th of January a new island was created off the coast of Giglio, in the Tuscan Archipelago. It is a skeleton of a beast whose flesh was once composed of the trappings of commercialism. Neon lights, casino tables, swimming pools and dinner tables animated its polished and carpeted surfaces as vast pumps and motors churned away within its belly below. 35 meters wide and 40 meters high, it now towers above the neighbouring town, dormant and still - a grim reminder of the lives that were lost during a few hours of tragic miscalculation.   This proposal for the Costa Concordia re-imagines the cruise ship as a new addition to the Tuscan landscape. Once a sea grave, this proposal teems with life. Sea grasses, Cyprus trees, fish and reeds fill its open scars and cavities. By cutting the ship along the water line, the neighbouring town is freed from overlooking a painful past, whilst the ship is allowed to become a natural ‘edge condition’, a natural boundary where organisms thrive at the collision of different ecosystems and terrains.   Like the nearby marble quarries of Carrara, this is a landscape created through removal. This invisible island of white steel, sunken beneath the waterline, echoes the disused quarries where nature creeps at the base of vast white cliffs of stone. By cutting off the cap of the ship, the chambers and voids that are revealed – sloped at 31 degrees – create a multiplicity of differentiated spaces and conditions for different forms of life to develop and thrive.   To explore the terraced gardens of the Costa Concordia, visitors must first walk across a sunken platform that stretches across the channel of water that separates the two islands. Walking towards the horizon with wet feet, the vast void of the Concordia opens up miraculously in front of them, offering a place to dry their toes and to explore the strata of a hidden landscape. From the sky the Concordia becomes an island, from the land it becomes the sea, and from within a symbol of hubris and loss becomes a peaceful garden filled with life.   For more information: ICSplat - competition organisers Francesco Matteo Belfiore on Projects Review 2012