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Canto Sospeso


Early version of the degree thesis at the University of Palermo for an architectural project with cantilever glass-reinforced steel structures for the port at the bottom of the Viale Regina Elena also called Marina

Canto Sospeso


At the end of the Marina in the city of Trapani you see twilights dissolving in the profiles of the Aegadian Islands. The limpidness of the sky catches the eye. It invites you to cross it, to recognise its innermost potentialities. Penetrating the emptiness and reinventing it, a system of prisms cuts the space of the sky into a virtual three-dimensional pagination. Its surfaces exchange reciprocal refractions, reflections and transparencies. Even though permeable to the soft multi-coloured light of dusk, these condense the space, defining a new vision and reality. At first impression they echo the skyscrapers of El Lissitzky. Two linear buildings abandon their vertical columns. Climbing high they are directed according to inclines, inventing a composition characterised by a space enclosed but at the same time eluding its borders. Structurally reciprocal and reactive, the two constructions mutually compensate for the excesses of load: like the arms of a scale, the asymmetric ‘wings’ of the hotel balance themselves on a quartet of large trellises. Each follows a different direction. One inclines steeply downwards illuminating the surface of the sea, the other hovers horizontal in the space forming a cover on the beach underlying and beginning, equally, a subtle relationship with the office building. This last, extended vertically for a short distance, veers away at a certain point creating an inclined plane at right angles to that of the hotel, thus suggesting a fleeting continuity between beach and sky. Each block has distinct accesses. That of the hotel is invisible from the outside. The building has no points of contact with the ground and hovers over the sea on giant stilts. Access is gained by way of an underwater passage, a logical continuation of that of the Marina. From this underground space, completed by a car park, four glass cylinders emerge, inside each trellis, the elevators, coming out of the water and crossing the full height of the covered urban space, reach the reception area in the high flat wing of the hotel. Built on the resistance of a shaft under traction, the spatial orchestration of the structural web takes to the extreme the potentialities of steel used in a state of traction, allowing the use of slender shafts. In this way the volumes appear elegant, already designed by the thin steel web and articulated within by the syncopated narrative of the multiple levels of the 20 storeys.

This text was first published in Tasarim (pdf), no. 169, Istanbul, March 2007, pp. 138‑140.

Canto Sospeso


  • Time: Dec. 2001 (design)
  • Place: Viale Regina Elena, Trapani, Italy
  • Area: 50,000 m² (sixteen storeys)
  • Typology: hotel


  • Architecture design: Antonino Cardillo
  • School: Facoltà di Architettura, Università di Palermo (degree’s thesis tutor: Giovanni Sarta)
  • Translation: Charles Searson