Ghost Town Refuge Competition

contact partner

Dominik Leis

dipl.-ing. dominik leis

+49 241.609 14-13

project architect

chiara caravello + smd team


Ideas competition of in cooperation with Craco Ricerche for the touristic development of the historical city ruin Craco in the province of Matera, Italy under the motto “Ghost Town Refuge”. The aim was to develop sustainable visitor accommodation and experience concepts in careful handling of the historical building fabric as well as the conception of a visitor center with museum character.


urban fragments

An eventful history has shaped the hill town of Craco for almost 1000 years now. Its name probably comes from the area name “Craculum” (little ploughed field – source: Wikipedia). Constantly growing, it became a castle town, university town, seat of a monastery and gained in importance.  In the middle of the 20th century, however, a series of landslides, caused by work on the sewerage and water supply systems, shook the town and made it uninhabitable.

Man finds natural places whose parameters seem to serve him and settles there parasitically or even symbiotically. A home is created through urban structures.

Like natural decay, these urban structures are subject to natural or technical erosion, which, whether self-inflicted or not, ultimately leads to the loss of that home.

A lost place is created, whose mystical effect gives us the opportunity to reflect, with ourselves, but also with the spirits of the past. The design concept seeks and creates places for this reflection. Metaphysical spaces for contemplation and the transcendental return to one’s own, inner home. A shelter that offers protection to visitors in the midst of destruction, to help them return to their basic needs.

Inspired by the fragmentary urban structures, the formal concept is based on broken boulders and slabs of rock which, seemingly positioned at random, form ruin-like spaces. A metaphor for the decay and finiteness of existence. The result is the big picture of the crystalline formal language that characterizes the three types of buildings in different ways. The architectural translation of this picture produces both folded works and massive, segmented crystalline structures. The buildings form a formal bridge to the landscape and the ruins of the city. The architecture deliberately plays with the original form of living: the cave


  • Concept and competition work
  • Design + visualization