/ Spring 2013 - Featured Project
Inaugurated by the king Alphonso XIII, the Autodromo of Terramar (Sitges, Spain) was built in 1923: aiming to become the National Spanish Racing Circuit. The opening event, held on October 28th of that year, was for 2-litre GP cars and won by Albert Divo in a Sunbeam defeating Count Louis Zborowski in a Miller, with a winning speed of 96.91 mph. No prize money was awarded. Unpaid construction overruns forced the builders to collect all gate receipts, leaving the organizers with no money to pay the drivers. As a result, the track was forbidden to host international races again. Drivers also complained about the purpose of entry and exit fees, claiming the need for multiple bank transactions was the result of a poorly designed registration system. Catalunyan Automobile Club and the Penya Rhin continued to hold races in 1925 with little success. The track was sold to Edgard de Morawitz in the 1930s and the last known race held on the oval was in the 1950s. The track and surrounding land is currently an operating chicken farm.
The Autodromo of Terramar is the perfect exemple of an abandoned territory: an unknown site now often used for artistic projects, reduced to the backdrop of photography shoots and movie sets. Nevertheless, this place has a true identity that we wanted to explore and analyze in order to emphasize its character. In designing for this site, we chose to implement a "bottom up approach" with the help of our professor, Edouard Cabay. In our studio's site analysis, each student studied a different particularity of the concrete track terrain. For example, one study involved pouring water on the concrete to “measure” its absorption, while another referenced trails left by vehicles. This analysis led us to work on optimum car trajectories while tackling questions of pedestrian and/or cycling accessibility. When going to visit this track, one may easily become frustrated in the appeal, yet inaccessible nature of the site's physical extremities, such as its huge, increasing peripheral slope. Moreover, from the top of the track's towering banked turns, one will find an amazing view on the sea and the surrounding mountains. Thus, we decided to create new pedestrian trajectories on the track, projecting them in space by using control points. The designed pathways create an appealing relationship to each other and to the site, winding over and under to create a new dynamic structural shape while embodying the speed and fluidity of race cars that once lew by. Curious visitors will now be able to experience the mystery of this abandoned concrete landscape by choosing their own trajectory around its massive sloped curves, reliving the forgotten speed and spectacle of this legendary race track.
Charlotte Le Dain and Alya El Chiati