Bezalel Papers
on Architecture
המגזין המקוון של המחלקה לארכיטקטורה בבצלאל
קטגוריות: issue #02

The re-appropriation by the local and global community of the place in which a brutal massacre took place was born by the will of citizens, who decided, after twenty-five years, to come out with their hidden wounds. [1]

We are on a beach called Pizzolungo in Erice, Sicily. An annual commemoration event is already taking place spontaneously in front of a stele, but in an undefined space. The space itself has been deformed by the explosion of a car with a hundred pounds of dynamite set to kill a court building in 1985, instead killing a mother and her two children. Twenty-five years later, the building still suffered deterioration and neglect.
The project we proposed was the catalyst that triggered the sociological dynamics, created in this process of outlining the intellectual, existential and spiritual space of the tragedy. It has allowed citizens of Erice and Trapani, as well as outside visitors to regain a place that stands for the memory of the massacre and the underlying warning to human selfishness and indifference with which it was regarded with by a Mafia inflicted society. Since its inception, the project has attempted to  shape and define such a space and, even as it remains uncompleted, it already is the subject of events, pilgrimages and university activities.

The site, 25 years after

The bright lights in the wall and the red mountain under starry skies

The stretch of sand beneath the looming presence of the mountains preserves the memory of the conflict that has demonstrated the disruptive and brutal force of human minds not guided by intellect but rather by a mixture of matter and selflishness, which in turn gave the site its unnatural shape and character. Today, the project places a window to the sea with a herb garden and the shadow of an old olive tree. The garden is bordered by a stone wall with soil containing metal boxes that define the boundary crossing with a sloping surface that stretches between earth the sea under the skies and in front of the mountains.

As architects we have attempted to work freely by quietly listening to the will of the place and what it could really be. We have not sought to impose symbolism or haughty rhetoric, but only to defend this landscape with a green wall and a garden with wounds of corroded metal, creating an accessible and understandable space, and allowing visitors to reflect on how each person is responsible for the horror of which man is capable. The idea to face the truth as it is, without illusions, was the ultimate goal through which we dealt with this project. It is through these terms that we tried to mark time on earth and the reality of the three victims by using three basic elements – points that determine the triangular planes used to discretize the organic forms of soil, making them hard and sharp as well as exposed to corrosion and heat under the sun.

The higher garden before and after realization

Man and his conscience, going down into the wounded space


The ritual of memory

For us, working against the real meant and changing it was understood as creating a friction that would cause more pain. We knew therefore that any creation or modification of reality can not but express a paradox. Namely, that if you want to allow for a revealing of reality you must recognize the right of all things on site to exist. Through the project, and the definition of the boundaries between land and sea under the skies, we have allowed the existential appropriation of a collective wound that can define a place that will contain the memory of human tragedy.


[1] The Pizzolungo massacre was the result of a car-bomb attack on April 2, 1985, by the Mafia to kill the magistrate Carlo Palermo in Pizzolungo, a suburb of Erice, in Sicily. Palermo was  injured, but a young woman and her little sons were killed. Judge Carlo Palermo had been investigating an international drug and arms trafficking network, with involvement of Italian politicians.

The Lg=mC group (Giovanni Lucentini & Marcello Calà) is a Palermo based design studio. Working since 2003, they voluntarily remain out of the local system of patronage to pursue an an approach ethical militancy and activism. Their projects which are approaching implementation, involved working, among others, with Italian engineering firm PROGER s.p.a., Inzerillo & Albeggiani, Raffalele Bonafede. In 2004, They have won the Palermo International Waterfront Competition, exhibited at the Porto-Palermo section in the Biennale di Venezi, as well as the competition for the Memorial Park in Pizzolungo, Erice, already under construction.

Comments | תגובות

  1. Lg=mC:

    Text by Marcello Calà

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