The Fortezza da Basso is situated at the northern border of the old town of Florence and has hosted the Florence exhibition since the 1970s. The polygonal fortress was planned by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in the 16th century to serve as a counter-castle to the Medici. The Fortezza is an early example of a pentagonal fortress ground plan. It served as a model for numerous fortresses all across Europe. Sangallo’s original plans involved a pentagonal structure in ideal geometry, which had to be altered due to the topographical conditions and the course of the city wall. These factors led to an irregular pentagon. The monumental structure, which was never used as a counter castle, remained as a part of the city structure reflecting the political and social order of the Medici. The area was used for military purposes until the 1970s, when it was repurposed as an exhibition centre.
Sangallo’s plans for the inner structure of this oversized fortress were never implemented. Hence, a loose scattering of buildings grew here, which arranged themselves according to different temporal structures. The temporal layering of the existing buildings ranges from antiquity to the 1990s.
The interferences in this collage intend to make the grown structure and its order visible again. This is achieved by creating a density which highlights the unique character of the structure. A new Landscape fills up the void and is reconnecting the enclosed fortress with the dense urban fabric. Inside of these walls the Fortezza will provide a modern multi-use exhibition area as an economical contrast to the tourism dominated city center. The design consists of three elements: ring, hall and tower. These three create new spaces for the exhibition, they define squares and guarantee visibility and guidance beyond the walls of the fortress.