Reviving the Forgotten Castle


Anahita Fathiazar, Elham Sarshad, Nikyar Neshat, Uranus Shojachaghervand, and Taravat Sam Nejad
Politecnico di Milano


Elisabetta Rosina
Politecnico di Milano

CONSULTANTS    Ezio Riva, Alessia Silvetti, Chiara Salvini, Elena Bianchi, Giovanni Del Zanna, Silvia Erba, Lorenzo Jurina and Elena Formenti


This winning design solution addresses Castle Pinckney as a destination by focusing on the city of Charleston’s shoreline. The intervention on Shute’s Folly Island is a minimalist tensile structure that harks back to both historic and current nautical imagery, including the sails, mast and cables of sailing vessels (and the cable structure of the nearby bay bridge), creating an eye-catching icon that can be seen from the mainland. Overall this successful design has a light touch on the historic structure, preserving the castle for enjoyment today while protecting it for tomorrow. The graphics are clear, attractive and include an assessment of the condition of the fort and how it might be consolidated and repaired using the latest sensitive techniques.


Castle Pinckney, the oldest surviving fortification has been forgotten for ages and declines continuously.

Facing the Reality:
Any effort to make Castle Pinckney accessible to the public, or to adaptively reuse the site, faces some obstacles. First and foremost is the fort's location, on an island in the harbor, requiring boat transportation to access the site. There is no utilizable dock on Shute's Folly Island. The island itself is low-lying and marshy, and covered with a dense low growth which is not amenable to pedestrian activities. The fort itself, its interior completely filled with earth, presents little of obvious, outward historic interest. Which structures or foundations may survive under the fill is unknown. Extensive archeology would be required in the fort's interior to expose these remains.

From Obstacles to Opportunities:
A reuse project of an old and monumental fort is not just a big and exciting challenge, but it also comes with great responsibility. The design should connect to the existing building but also provide something new and exciting. The vision of this project was to emphasize the existing fort and give priority to that, instead of taking the attention from the old building to the new addition. We wanted to state that the new addition is just that; an addition to an existing building and not a new individual one. We believe after the realization of vital & required interventions to Castle Pinckney, controlled public access to the fort & island with the concept of an art gallery inside it not only won’t alter the brick structure and possible remaining parts but also make it alive again. We think Castle Pinckney is not anymore a place to host cannons and soldiers instead it would be house of art, artists and visitors with an everlasting memory. Passing through the shallow water basin in the entrance, arriving to the inner courtyard, visiting the gallery and the restaurant with seats outside and view of the garden, all give the feeling of peace, tranquility, safety and satisfaction to the visitor. Art gallery with its light but permanent structure will be a place for temporary exhibitions and workshops. Welcome center with its medium height and harmonic shape retrieved from sea waves respects the skyline of Charleston and will be perfectly merged into the existing urban fabric and well known water front park. The wooden pier is oriented to the castle to emphasis and improves the visual connection toward Shutes folly island. The Performance pier facing the water front park will act as a gathering node and artists to play music. Welcome pavilion and pier are designed for people of all ages with different tastes which serves variant functions like: Ticket office for boat tour to the Castle, exhibition area with the posters, maps and pictures of Castle Pinckney, restaurant with panoramic balcony etc. The pavilion is attractive and semitransparent from outside. The building itself is sustainable and environmental friendly throughout its whole life cycle.