Construction on the highway from Salerno to Reggio Calabria in Southern Italy began int he 1960s – and it’s still not finished. A stretch that has been abandoned for decades includes a viaduct with incredible wasted views of the mountainous countryside and the sea. The winners of a design competition to repurpose that viaduct have transformed it into a stunning vertical village of vacation homes.
French firms OFF Architecture, PR Architect and Samuel Nageotte took first place in the Solar Park South international design competition with ‘Solar Highway’, a concept that uses the massive pylons of the bridge as the basis of a sort of high-rise vacation complex in reverse – running from the horizontal surface of the bridge down to ground level.
The project was designed to use a low quantity of construction materials, encasing the existing support system using a ‘pile and deck’ technique to stack residential and commercial spaces on top of each other without disturbing the site. The vacation homes are aimed at Northern European snowbirds looking to enjoy Southern Italy’s warm, sunny weather in the winter.
The upper part of the bridge will become a pedestrian promenade, with lower decks offering roadways into neighboring towns – a feature that local residents, who have long been cut off by the delays on the highway, will no doubt appreciate. In between the houses, restaurants and shops will be recreational spaces like golfing greens. In addition, as Inhabitat points out, nearby Mt. Etna could provide the whole complex with geothermal power.