Excerpt:Nostalgia della Natura is an architectural project by Omya Sharma, re-imagining the Covid-19 pandemic experiences to create a Columbarium. It then transitions into the Funerary Chapel leading to the Congregation Hall, the structure disintegrating and vegetation taking over. Deriving from the experience of the lockdown during the Pandemic and the restrictions placed then, the concept of changing degrees of transparency and degrees of enclosure is used.
(“Text as submitted by student”)
The covid19 Pandemic had significant psychological and social effects on all. The prolonged isolation from our daily routine, the restrictions from meeting other people, and our connection with nature heightened the stress experienced. This disconnects casts a dull and gloomy atmosphere everywhere. Viewing the green from the confines of the house, though refreshing, made me even more nostalgic for the nature outside and amplified my craving to be amidst nature. The gradual lifting of restrictions had us slowly re-connecting and re-building our connection with the outside world.
Deriving from the experience of the lockdown during the Pandemic and the restrictions placed then, the concept of changing degrees of transparency and degrees of enclosure is used. The disintegrating structure denotes the slow lifting of restrictions as we journey from a space of less transparency to a space of more transparency. The simultaneous takeover of the green reinforces the connection with nature as the lockdown lifts.
This concept is used to build a Columbarium which then transitions into the Funerary Chapel to lead to the Congregation Hall, structure disintegrating and vegetation taking over. The disintegrating structure is only left as an insert in the landscape at the waterfront plaza. The Memorial to the Pandemic uses the same concept vertically, taking the existing bell tower as an inspiration.
Poveglia is a small island between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. A small canal divides the island into two separate parts. The island first appeared in the historical record in 421 and was populated until the resident’s fled warfare in 1379. For more than 100 years, beginning in 1776, the island was used as a quarantine station for those suffering from the plague and other diseases and later as a mental hospital. The mental hospital closed in 1968, and the island has been vacant ever since.
The island contains one or more plague pits. The surviving buildings on the island consist of a cavana, a church, a hospital, an asylum, a bell tower, and housing and administrative buildings for the staff. The bell tower is the island’s most visible structure, dating back to the 12th century. It belonged to the church of San Vitale, which was demolished in 1806. The tower was re-used as a lighthouse.
A bridge connects the island on which the buildings stand with the island that was given over to trees and fields. The octagonal fort is on a third, separate island, next to the island with the buildings, but unconnected to it. The fort today consists solely of an earthen rampart faced on the outside with brick.
Our experiences during the Pandemic were re-imagined and converted into abstract diagrams and sketches. These ideas were developed further to derive our concepts for the site’s design. A series of sketches showed the transition of the situation around me and my changing experiences and emotions.
Various iterations were done to get a fluid journey of a rigid, fully enclosed structure slowly breaking up and disintegrating away and merging into the ground. Simultaneously, circulation was also worked upon to try and connect and interconnect multiple spaces and functions. The circulation was designed keeping in mind the flow and story of the journey created while also providing flexibility and exit points to be able to direct one’s journey and to be able to exit the journey whenever one wished to.
The structure’s disintegration followed a grid derived from a unit square of 1.5M. This module combined to form bigger modules of 3M, 6M, and 12M, respectively. This resultant grid was placed on the site. It was followed for the disintegration of the structure as well as in the waterfront promenade.
The gradual disintegration of the structure is followed as the journey proceeds from the enclosed end of the Columbarium to the open end of the Congregation Hall. Along with the disintegration of the structure, it also recedes into the earth as nature simultaneously takes over the structure. Thus, the multifaith chapel is sunken into the earth, with nature and vegetation allowed to enter it and grow over it to continue onto the landscaped Waterfront Plaza.
The Columbarium is a rigid structure of concrete that starts with no openings, then gets small openings which gradually become bigger and bigger to lead to the metal grid structure of the Funerary Chapel. The Funerary Chapel consists of a metal grid structure in which concrete boxes of prayer halls are suspended. This space intersects the merging of the two material palettes: the complete concrete space of the Columbarium to the glass and metal structure of the Congregation Hall.
A bridge connects the Congregation Hall to an existing building and to the glass elevator shaft that connects the different levels of the bell tower. The bridge uses the arches taken from the arches of the existing structure nearby. This bridge runs to the Visitors’ Centre situated at the other end of the main block.
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