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Earth research center. Sântana “Cetatea Veche” archeological site
  • Special prize for „Courageous aproach on a complex topic”
  • Nomination for the “Research through Architecture / Architecture Diplomas” section

Earth research center. Sântana “Cetatea Veche” archeological site

Authors: Camelia Șerban

Dr. Arh. Vladimir Nicula

Authors’ Comment

We were born on earth, we walked on earth all our lives, and to we will return into the earth at the end (paraphrasing Genesis 3:19). Well then, shouldn't earth be what we know best? And yet, the earth still surprises us, still gives us things to discover.
The "Sântana Earth Research Center" project relates to the topic of archaeology, following the excavations of the Sântana mega-fort, an archaeological site that has been constantly discovered, forgotten, and rediscovered over the centuries, the last time when it saw the light of the sun being in the 80's.

Named, in a word by word translation, the "Old citadel of Sântana", from Arad, the archaeological site covers an area of 90 ha. of farmland and is at least 3,000 years old, sometime during those centuries being swallowed by the earth and never fully returned. Many archaeologists have tried to bring it back to light, but its large size, only recently fully established, meant that it could not be excavated as quickly as it was swallowed back into the earth and forgotten.
In this broad context, my project proposes a new building, one that learns from the history on which it is built, the rediscovered ancient city, as well as one that facilitates the learning process,or the archaeological process. It starts small, with a research center meant to aid and extend the excavation periods and a way to signal the presence of the site, leaving behind a sense of curiosity. In parallel with the excavations, with the unearthing of the fortress, the building develops in the same direction of the defensive walls, housing the laboratory part of the archaeological process, then introducing educational programs and temporary accommodation for archaeologists and researchers, sprinkling in some tourist attractions, viewpoints and museums, and introducing sightseeing routes to open up the old city to the rest of the world. Thus, the project continues to grow and evolve as the city is excavated, becoming a new layer of the city, a fourth fortification wall as we might say, capable of both supporting life and protecting the archaeological site. The project then brings life back to the ancient city - not just through the archaeological activity.
At the same time, integration into the site is sought, the buildings being made using, for the most part, the same materials and construction techniques as the original rammed earth buildings. Thus, they will be able to become one with the fortress, just another level of its evolution, being able to even return to earth alongside it, depending on what the future holds for the Old Fortress from Sântana.

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