In the beginning, the tower had no defined purpose. With its five floors, over 100 steps, 25 metres in height, its neat and angular contours and its aggressive Pompeiian red colour, the tower was just an empty staircase. It was simply the architectural expression of the fascist proclamation; a display of impressive institutional building that vied with the other symbolic landmarks of the city, above all, the bell tower of the cathedral.
Towards the end of the Forties the problem of accommodation started to overshadow the imperial colour of the structure and detracted from the symbolic height of the tower. The 25 metre-high symbol of the dictatorship was transformed before the eyes of war refugees and then of refugees from the Po river flood into a few precious square metres of space to be transformed into living quarters and kitchens. Various families got used to living, more or less illegally, in the cramped space afforded between one flight of stairs and another. They were without plumbing and running water and made use of the terraces in the middle and at the top of the tower to dry clothes and store tools.
The only decent accommodation on the ground floor was that of the caretaker, given the task by the Gioventu' Italiana of monitoring the progress of the associations' activities and the inhabitants in the rest of the building.
In the Eighties, once the GI had been dissolved, the tower fell into the hands of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano and it was the turn of immigrant families, mostly hailing from North Africa and living in lodgings in Alto Adige, to move in.
In 1995, an international competition to transform the whole ex-GIL construction into the new seat of the EURAC was announced: it was an attempt to reconcile the collective memories into a project of purposeful research (see the EURAC website under the building link to find out more). The architect Klaus Kada from Graz and the artist Manfred Aloys Mayr from Alto Adige made it their concern to harmonize the re-structuring work, combining old elements with new.
The tower was also involved: polished marble, new fittings, clear and sunny terraces. Yet something didn't work and the tower retained its empty and silent character.
It wasn't until 2004 that the project Journeys through Art and Science was thought up, with the aim of bringing life back to the staircase and transforming the tower into a meeting place.