Looking back at Ivrea’s transformation from a small hillside town to a partially realised utopia, and soon after to its inevitable failure, it is evident that the relentless drive towards this intangible dream of utopia is the piece that truly enhanced the buildings’ architectural value and at the same time, provided the place with its identity.

Today, as the town of Ivrea grows ever-older in its population, it marks the end of an important chapter, handing itself over to the many future possibilities waiting to unfold. This place, with its history, should not have to submit to a simple update in program, but as a utopian ruin, it should be preserved in a manner that proclaims the impossibility of the utopia.

To this, we declare the flooding of the Olivetti site by directing water from the Dora Bàltea River adjacent to it. The flood will come as a welcome stream of vitality, filling the void between the buildings as it rises to a level of 10m. Here, the water will create a Fata Morgana of the once utopian landscape. The iconic heritage buildings will now exist as an archipelago of monuments within the lake, isolated and protected from any outside influence.

Although radical, the artificial lake and its many associations offer something much more than simply preserving the buildings within. The impression of the flood comes with many destructive connotations, which works to contrast the idea of utopia, offering a kind of dystopia. Almost warning society of the dangers that may arise when pursuing this hedonistic dream.

The idea of the lake then offers an idea of stillness and silence, freezing the buildings in place and with it, the memories it still holds within its walls and the life it once had. The water also provides a notion of reflection, not only in the mirroring sense but also in the act of contemplation as well. The tops of the buildings are mirrored on the surface of the water, creating a mirage that echoes the once utopian landscape, placing it just out of reach.

In a physical sense, the simple presence of the lake adds to our perception of the passage of time; enhancing atmospheric changes with various moments of contemplation around the site. The water slowly moving from one end to another between buildings, with its presence celebrated as it enters and exits before being swept back to the Dora Bàltea River.



The project uses two concrete dam walls on the east and west end of the site.

Christopher Taylor, Alice Huang