Polish woman designed in Sardinia. She wants to restore the riverbed

The author of the project is Katarzyna Jamioł, a graduate of the Tadeusz Kościuszko University of Technology in Kraków. The young architect chose a green area in Sardinia, where the riverbed would be renaturalised. Her thesis was supervised by Dr. arch. Łukasz Stożek (supervisor), Prof. of PK, and Dr. hab. inż. arch. Urszula Forczek-Brataniec, Prof. PK (co-promoter).

Katarzyna Jamioł defended her master’s degree with the project ‘La via dell’acqua – renaturalisation of a fragment of the Is Cungiaus riverbed and design of a climate shelter’. This is a public space project combining an architectural as well as a landscape approach. It is located in the south of the Italian island of Sardinia, more precisely in the area of the town of Quartucciu. The area is located on the Is Cungiaus river, once used for agricultural purposes. The river, now regulated and brought into a regular channel, is renaturalised in the project, by correcting the course and banks of the channel.

Strategically placed natural barriers further provide water flow slowing, flood mitigation and habitat enrichment for native animal species, particularly waterfowl inhabiting the adjacent areas covered by the Ramsar Convention since 1977. The transformation of the park goes beyond restoring the river to as close to its natural state as possible. Formerly neglected fields, now wasteland and a wild rubbish dump, the young architect wants to undergo revitalisation. These abandoned spaces could be transformed into vibrant habitats for native wildlife.

The project is both educational and recreational.

Walking along the alleys, following the direction of the river’s current, we are guided through an educational path that presents the evolving relationship between mankind and nature over the past centuries and shows us a plan for harmonious coexistence with it in the years to come,’ explains Katarzyna Jamioł.

Her project is also a response to the problem of climate change. In Sardinia in July 2023, the temperature was as high as 48.2oC. The designer emphasises the urgent need for action. The described project also thoughtfully introduces the role of a climate shelter. Inspired by an Italian grotto and prehistoric buildings from the Nuragic period, the underground structure emerges as a sanctuary providing a shield against the year-on-year increase in heat.

Its function harks back to the buildings under construction in Spain in 2022, which aimed to provide residents with a publicly accessible space in which to cool off during heat waves. Made of waterproof concrete, it is ready to protect residents from the heat, offering respite from the intensity of the sun and the uncertainty of an ever-changing climate. Seamlessly connected to the course of the river, it becomes a retention basin during periods of intense rainfall causing the water level to rise, reflecting the balance between functionality and aesthetics of the newly created architecture, explains the designer.

The building also serves as an educational centre, with an exhibition informing visitors about the impact of climate change on humanity carved entirely into the walls and ceiling of the building so that it will not be destroyed by water flowing into the building.

This project is one example of how we can deal with the problems caused by climate change on a micro scale. In the underground shelter, the concrete walls carry important messages about the fragile state of our planet and the need for conscious action. They invite us to overcome barriers, both physical and conceptual, and strive for a future where people and the environment work together rather than fighting against each other,” he concludes.

design: Katarzyna Jamioł

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