The portal sought to reconnect the ancient and the modern city and to grasp the opportunity to celebrate the centrality of archaeological data in the dynamics of urban development in the region.
Above all it aimed to metaphorically express, in its form and composition, the Entrance to the city and the start of the visitor itinerary following the route of the fortifications.
It corresponds not so much to the literal, physical entrance, as to the mental entrance, guiding the visitor towards knowledge of the ancient ruins.
Traditionally, access to archaeological areas, where it exists at all, is often inadequate.
It is unclear where the entrances and car parks are, and visitors are catapulted into the ancient city without knowing how or why.
It was thus decided to concentrate all the visitor services (ticket office, information centre, car park, etc.) here, at the entrance, building a structure that introduced visitors to the ancient city by inviting them to follow a circuit coinciding with the route of the Messapian walls of Vaste.
In architectural terms, the project for the portal aimed to incorporate the characteristics of the location and the specific features of its traditional building techniques and materials.
We therefore sought to emphasise the theme of the defensive walls by reconstructing a stretch of them, a short distance beyond the original route.
It was also decided to build this reconstruction within sight of the main road in order to stir the interest of visitors.
The structure, slightly curved, has two storeys as well as the roof terrace from which there is a fine view of the Park.
It is 19 m long by 4.5 m wide (excluding the external staircases) by 6.50 m high.
The entrance corridor is framed by a concrete cornice: through this opening visitors can access the Park and the garden behind the building which can be used for the projection of films and open-air exhibitions.
The façade presents three building techniques.
At the bottom is the structure with squared blocks typical of the Messapian fortifications (4th and 3rd centuries BC); in the middle is the medieval structure built with reused materials including stones of varying size, tiles and sculpted blocks; at the top is the structure with rectangular blocks typical of the fortifications that were constructed in the Salento by the Aragonese and Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries AD.