The project involves reusing the ticket office of the adjacent multisport facility, abandoned for years, reconverting it into a café-bistro. The property, owned by the municipality, has been the subject of a call for tenders from private investors, with the aim not only of renovating a run-down building, but also to combine private aspirations with public needs by means of quality planning. The formula chosen by the local administration was that of collaboration to compensate for the lack of resources. The main goal is to restore the building and at the same time to improve the quality of the surrounding built-up area in a highly critical neighbourhood.It is an urban gap between the outskirts of Ragusa and the new expansion areas that are springing up arbitrarily around the city, with a very low building density as a leftover of a residential expansion plan not linked to the pre-existing urban structure. It is a transit area with some remaining services for the community, such as the sports facilities (the sports arena, the football stadium, the public swimming pool and the riding school), the street market, the schools, the business centre and all their respective substantial parking space. The wide empty spaces, the low building density and the rare public use (mainly restricted to occasional events) give this area the typical features of an urban “non-place”. The only distinctive point of reference is the tower of the municipal water tank that overlooks the building, with a height of about 30 metres, as a landmark of the area. The public-private strategy is to launch commercial activity to serve all the sports facilities and at the same time make it accessible to all the new families living in the area. But the true challenge is to create a meeting point for the whole community and to trigger a process of urban regeneration. A survey showed that the building, erected in the late 1980s, has a square ground plan, a reinforced concrete structure, a flat roof made of brick and concrete, hollow brick infill walls and openings on all the façades.
The project, in compliance with the current regulations and with regard to the budget, involves the realisation of an outer case made of low-cost and reused materials (Aquapanel® panels and wooden carpentry slats) that reshapes the building. The openings on the side façades (that look south towards the sports arena and north towards the building cooperatives that are under construction) are shielded by the new shading. Two large windows, one at the entrance and the other on the opposite side, open up a view of the urban landscape. On the northern façade, part of the casing is designed to be turned around to create outdoor tables. The building envelope also serves as a ventilated wall, providing insulation from cold and heat, especially during the summer when the external temperature approaches 40 degrees. The casing not only shields the technical systems (boiler, air conditioner outdoor unit, water pump, alarm system), but also creates a perimeter cavity that functions as storage. In the interior, a wall coated with a green polyurethane resin separates the work area from the customers’ area. Beams and pillars are made of fair-faced concrete and the floor is made of industrial concrete screed, smoothened and treated with a transparent resin. The bar counter, as a full block, is made of iron sheets and the furniture evokes vintage retro styles.