Etna ski resort

YEAR.2005

AREA.100000 SQM

TYPE.Public

LOCATION. Etna, Italy

Natural phenomena are incredibly complex in cause, effect and experience. A single pattern or systematic logic is inadequate for modelling/simulating a contextualized (or system within system/environment) natural phenomenon such as a volcanic eruption.With pre-emptive design strategies much more can be done to maximise the architectural effect of natural phenomena whilst minimising the disruption caused by natural disasters on both lives and infrastructure.

Volcanic eruptions occur on an extreme scale from minor lava flows to cataclysmic explosive environments. At present, anticipatory strategies go no further than computer simulations on existing terrain and testing of plume and gas dissipation. No populated -volcanic area has a policy or disaster management plan to increase the survival of its infrastructure, agricultural plots and services and most rely heavily on mitigation strategies and evacuation contingency plans once the volcano has begun erupting. These strategies are one-off exercises controlled by scientists and engineers and follow civil defence programmes involving vast earth-moving procedures that more often than not have a relatively minor impact on the disaster.

The north flank of Mount Etna is used as a case study to investigate the highly complex locale of the lava flows through examining its specific movements and understanding the series of complex paths and conditions depending on viscosity, gradient and texture of the terrain over which it is travelling, its temperature and the way in which it cools.

Through computational investigations it is possible to create 3d terrains with countless generations upon which to experiment and create variation. These terrains can be tested through particle flow simulation programmes enabling the terrain to become optimized and react efficiently to the possibility of channelling and filtering the behaviour of the lava in an intricate, more controlled manner. What results from this may be further interweaving of current ground conditions, imposed terrain manipulations and new liquid lava terrains. There is no single optimal solution to this natural phenomenon, but through experimentation and expert knowledge complex relationships can emerge.

The proposal aims at investigating as to what effect these variations in scale may have on the flow of lava and how they may be used to manipulate it and the potential to generate clones of themselves in a way in which the material is channelled, built up and stored by controlling the lava at its different temperature points. In order to create an efficient model to test the viability of such a strategy we proposed a series of landscape components on a 10s of meters scale that are specific to particular regions on the site. The series of components demonstrate the basis of a landscape response strategy to the lava flows and the site conditions. They are simple component based and individually they are weak as they respond to a specific condition on site, but together they can build up a field of conditions that can be used and tested against various simulations in order to achieve this landscape mitigation strategy.