siracusa strategy

Strategy for Sicilian city Siracusa. Aim of the strategy is to turn the city  into direction which gives best opportunities for development – towards the sea .


place: Italy | Siracusa
type: proffesional work | urban planning
design: september 2013
authors: Carmelo Zappulla, Nacho Toribio, Karolina Tarkowska, Michelle Levy, Pawel Kochanski | EXTERNAL REFERENCE ARCHITECTS.





STRENGHTS. Siracusas seacoast is beautiful with extraordinary rock formations, caves and stone arches . That conditions makes it a perfect place for snorkeling, diving and kayak excursions. There are also many beautiful places for bathing and sunbathing. Climat, as in whole Sicily, is a typical Mediterrainean, which gives opportunity to take advantage of all-year-round nice weather, and also of whole year tourism. Historical background, reaching ancient greek times,makes it a perfect destination for many tourists, not only for the heritage enthusiasts.

WEAKNESSES. The population of Siracusa counts around 123,000 inhabitants within an area about 200 square kilometres. In some parts of Siracusa, especially in Grotta Santa, Acradina and S.Lucia amount of houses for families is insufficient, which causes decrease of life quality. An extremely poor state of public space or even its lack is highly visible especialy in northern parts of the city. Another issue is a monostructure of mere housing estates with only a few social infrastructural facilities. This is visibily reflected in quality of life and creates an unpleasent enviroment especially for young inhabitants.

OPPORTUNITIES. In Sicily, the importance of local food is woven into the fabric of local culture and the authenticity of the food tourism experience is ‘real’. There is a big need for an integrated approach to promote the traditional industries, the tourist services, and the cultural activities. Ecological and sustainable methods nowadays are a must and can really result with real profits for a city. A Basque city Victoria Gasteiz could be a great example how to fight with the unemployment using ecological approach. This leads also to EU subventions programmes, which might help implement sustainable strategies. In Siracusa there is a lack of kind of infrastructural facilities such as clarification plants, waste sorting, waste disposal etc. The strategic planning of the socio-economic future of the province requires the co-operation of all relevant actors of governmental and non-political organisations. An essential step is to be seen in the need of a cultural change that young inhabitants can be employed. This is followed by local participation and activation programs which may help inhabitants find their own idea for business and also include them in Siracusas development strategy.

THREATS. In Siracusa visible is existence of large parts of the city (Grotta Santa, Acradina and S.Lucia), which are getting more and more stigmatised and deprived. It may affect an entire generation of excluded young people who are at risk of going into a criminal career and are more and more contributing to a bad reputation and isolation of these neighbourhoods.  Statistics show unemployment rate at approximately 18 % and the income per capita at 800 Euros per month. Low or almost no education amongst the socially excluded residents increases the distance between poor and rich inhabitants. About 2 % of the local population has a foreign background. Recently the number of inhabitants with a foreign background has been doubled through immigration what has caused different problems of integration. To prevent them, organized strategies for immigrants, aiming for activation and integration should be implemented





Ortigia with a baroque city centre is visited by tourists daily and is the only area that experiences a positive transformation. Also surrounding areas i.e. marinas seems to have chance for further development. In contrast large parts of the city are getting more and more stigmatised and deprived. There is no complex plan for those neighbourhoods.

Significant conclusion after analysing Siracusa is an constantly appearing border between northern and southern part of the city. Double-speed effect is visible and it is constantly deepening in every possible aspects and will continue to be so if nothing will be done.



In the area of Grotta Santa, Acradina and S.Lucia the following problems are dominating: micro-criminality, low or almost no education, drug abuse and dealing, insufficient amount of houses for families. Improvement of the housing and living environment

in the areas and also prevention of poverty through cultural and training activities for the young citizens must be implemented.

Main aim for the strategy should be a complex intervention in this areas, by turning their interests into direction which gives the most opportunities for development - towards the seacoast. Activation of seafront, taking advantage of it´s possibilities may give a real profit for those neighbourhoods. An integrated approach to promote the traditional industries, the tourist services, and the cultural activities might be the solution.


Current potential of Siracusa is concentrated around archeological heritage, old town of Ortiga, marinas and seacoast. Nethertheless there is no common strategy for those places, there are not connected or related to each other.

Proposed strategy implements HOTSPOTS to create a common network of points of interests. All of them are in walkable distance from each other up to 15 min. walk. Some of the hotspots already exist and they need just a small and simple intervention to make them more attractive, some other needs to be created.




After the hotspots are created the PATHS which connect them to each other will become more intensively used, they will get their own identity and characteristic. Improving quality of the streets will be followed by requalification of PUBLIC SPACE and introduction of PUBLIC FACILITIES.

Requalification of main paths and public space will ¨infect¨ the positive effect into surrounding. That will trigger their development and bring the life to public space. Spreading domino-like effect will continue to affect further and further neighbourhoods injecting new quality of public space and better QUALITY OF LIFE.





STRATEGY. Main aim for the strategy is a complex intervention in problematic areas of Siracusa by turning their interests into direction which gives the most opportunities for development- TOWARDS THE SEA. Proposed strategy implements HOTSPOTS  which will cause an ¨ACUPUNTURAL¨ effect by adding a new layer of good SPATIAL AND ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY which will influence the stigmatized neighbourhoods.





HOTSPOTS. Intoduction of  HOTSPOTS is not coincidential, it creates a network surrounding the city. It is supposed to cause an ¨ACUPUNTURAL¨ effect by adding a new layer of good SPATIAL AND ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY in certain points. That will affect the neighbourhoods and work like a kind of a matrix which will encourage the development. Hotspots must differ in character to provide variety of  possibilities and to avoid monotony and sameness. All of them must have their own IDENTITY.




SEAFRONT. Siracusas waterfront has a big potential and is extremely beautiful. Intervention in the seacoast must take advantage of existing features just slightly upgrading it and adding some new elements to make it more attractive and user friendly.




  • Variety of hotspots with different character and IDENTITY
  • Hotspots create a NETWORK which connects all of them
  • WALKING PATHS allowing to get from one to another within max. 15 min.
  • PUBLIC BIKE SYSTEM to improve the quality of local transport and encourage exploration city
  • Bike system should be integrated with PARK-AND RIDE NETWORK so it will minimize the car traffic.
  • Different ways of exploration must be introduced, especially those connected with water, like KAYAKS, WATER TAXIS, ETC.






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