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Under the pressure of a global pandemic, the built environment and the protocols for its inhabitation are being challenged and re-formatted at unprecedented scale and speed. A series of colliding thresholds – from Zoom screens to facial masks and quarantines – can be understood as the sites of transformation of a long-established social contract negotiating private and public spaces of individuals, communities and regions. At the core of this is a fundamentally architectural question: “How do we structure spatial protocols of distribution and movement to support the welfare of a larger community? Put more simply: How do we co-exist with others?”
Taking cues from AMO’s recent body of research highlighting the radical reorganization, abstraction and automation that occurred in the ‘Countryside’ to support the densities and excesses of modern urban life, we will look at the distributed network of the Italian ‘Borghi’ as a fertile site to rethink contemporary patterns of inhabitation. Engaging closely with the existing built environment, and negotiating between historical identities and projective scenarios, we will implement contemporary food production strategies, autonomous systems and an ever-growing digital infrastructure to re-imagine these sites.
"how do we develop cultural forms of identity and belonging that are commensurate with the rapid growth in political, economic and social interconnectedness of the last few decades"
— Ursula K. Heise | From Blue Planet to Google Earth (2013)
The Italian countryside is punctuated by one of the densest networks of small Towns, Borghi and Villages in Europe: what Stefano Boeri referred to as an ‘Archipelago of Borghi’. These can be understood as the physical traces of the peninsula’s articulated political and cultural history. Often bonded, both economically and administratively, to the political center of larger urban nodes, the Italian Borgo negotiated its autonomy by managing, cultivating and monitoring these peripheral territories. What once were vibrant nodes of this cultural network, today most of these agglomerates are afflicted by a shrinking and aging __________
population, a decaying built-environment as well as an ________
ever-expanding lack of services and digital infrastructure._____
This studio takes recent State led initiatives to reinvigorate ____
these territories as a starting point to imagine near-future _____
scenarios of Transformation. Engaging closely with the _______
existing built environment, and negotiating between historical___
identities and projective scenarios, we will implement contemporary food production strategies, autonomous systems and an ever-growing digital infrastructure to re-imagine these sites. What is at stake in these territories is the possibility to re-negotiate their historical identities between local and global values.
The studio will look closely at issues of building in existing conditions, leveraging a multitude of digital survey materials made available at the beginning of the course by our team on the ground. Digital models ranging from aerial LiDAR scans to high resolution photogrammetry models of specific sites will be used as the starting point to re-think the physical and digital infrastructure of these Borghi. Using immersive imaging platforms as well as practices of digital storytelling the studio will focus on narrating near-future scenarios of radical transformation.
Weeks 1 - 4 | taught by Luca Ponsi
“What is dear to my friend Marco Polo is to discover the secret reasons that led men to live in cities, reasons that could be valid beyond all crises. Cities are a set of many things: memories, desires, signs of a language; cities are places of exchange, as all the economy history books explain, but these exchanges are not just exchanges of goods, they are exchanges of words, desires, memories”
Italo Calvino, Columbia University, New York, 29 March 1983
Starting by analyzing and understanding the structure and characteristics of a selection of historic borghi located in the center of Italy, by focusing on a series of specific issues as “limits & fortifications”, “orography & conformation”, and “urban voids & density”, students will each be assigned one unique city of the 55 cities described by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan in Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel “Invisible Cities”, as a starting reference point to conceptualize projectively a vision and interpretation for a near-future scenario of development and transformation of the assigned borgo.
AMO’s “Countryside, A Report” will be the subtext to inform programmatically the direction of future development of the borgo, in a progressive, dynamic and non-nostalgic form. The output of the exercise will comprise a series of maps, axonometric views and collages to represent the students vision.
OVERALL COURSE SCHEDULE
taught by Daniele Profeta | Weeks 5 - 15
Issues of building in context and strategies to articulate multifaceted understandings of ‘site’ will be foregrounded in the conceptual underpinning as well as in the methodology for the development of this second project. We will focus closely on a single Borgo from the series analyzed in Project #1 to articulate programmatic, social and material scenarios of transformation. In particular we will ask: “How can we construe inclusive aesthetic forms of co-existence?” The often too rigid reading of these communities understood as the traditional core of Italian culture will be put under the combined pressure of much needed strategies for social integration amidst rising circulation (and displacement) of global populations, and a growing digital infrastructure delivering radically different spaces of publicness, accelerated access to e-consumption together with dramatically larger and smaller scales of (smart)-land management than have ever been possible.
Rather than articulating comprehensive, seemingly fully resolved design propositions aimed to singularly ‘fix’ an issue, students will be asked to work through partial, episodic projections to multiply the possible futures of these complex sites. We will leverage a database of digitally surveyed fragments of the selected borgo together with a series of still videos captured on site to develop discrete scenarios of transformation. No single, all-encompassing view-point will be prioritized; rather we will favor a body of work that actively suggests the possibility of multiple formal, programmatic and cultural assemblages.
“When we reject the idea of a 'single-story', when we realize that there has never been a single story for any place, we recapture a kind of paradise”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The danger of a single story, 2020
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