top of page

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?” 

We will pay particular attention to the transforming character of domestic space in which ideas of public and private /ness are continuously negotiated, where the ever-expanding neoliberal ambition of uninterrupted productivity continuously challenges the separation of work and leisure. Framed in this way, the space of the house and its contested typology moves beyond the territory of the individual and begins to highlight its role in systemic oppression on the basis of gender, race, and class. 

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 respond to the radical and long-lasting consequences of remote-home-working practices as they have been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic. By assembling rituals, materials and preoccupations each project will aim to construct specific world-views of how we could, one day, live together again in the space of the Italian Borgo.

"This is a unique call for a radical reinvention of the idea of housing that rejects the hegemony of the family (and private property) as the only way to live together."

—  Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara | Production/Reproduction: Housing beyond the Family (2015)

"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.

Borgo: n.  /bór·go/
1.    medium sized center (~10.000 inhabitants) with minor political relevance;
2.    extension of the city outside the ancient walls.





Sharing a common brief, the studio will offer two sections working closely with each other to critically understand the social and cultural contexts of these small towns while articulating specific design interests and areas of research. If questions revolving around the design of domestic rituals extend from the individual to the collective, from territorial configurations to local conditions, the two sections will approach the design proposition along two opposing scalar vectors to finally converge at the same scale of investigation: zooming-in and zooming-out each group will support the research of the other. Ultimately the aim is to conceptually problematize a clear separation of foreground and background when thinking about building in existing contexts. Below you will find more information on each of these sections.




with Luca Ponsi 

“Currently, countryside discourse is polarized between attempts to keep “as is” and to change “everything”. What we want(ed) to collect is evidence of new thinking, new ways of paying, new ways of cultivating, new ways of building, new ways of remembering, new ways of exploring, new ways of acting, old ways of contemplating and being, new ways of using new media, new ways of owning, renting, new ways of protecting, new ways of planting, new ways of farming, new ways of fusing, new ways of harvesting, that are taking place beyond a metropolitan consciousness…”

Rem Koolhaas, Ignored Realm - in Countryside, a report  (2020)

Starting by investigating the territory through a fish-eye lens, by exploring, extrapolating and analysing the structure, infra-structure and characters that are peculiar and unique to the territory of Val d’Orcia, we will zoom our lens inward at a wide angle medium-scale view to envision how the issues, frictions and possibilities that the area offers may blend and amalgamate with each other, to create a near-future scenario of development and transformation of the region.

The palimpsest created by the layered zoomed out visions will form the basis to develop a design project that relates communal living (otium) and working (negotium) ideas and issues, by viewing the micro-structure at macro scale.




with Daniele Profeta

Our investigation on domestic spaces will begin at the scale of the interior, focusing on specific moments of interference between contemporary living patterns and traditional patriarchal ideologies of the nuclear family and the home. Connecting the individual with larger reflections on contemporary living, each group will identify a contested site of the house (the work-kitchen table / the AirBnb-bed etc…) and develop close-up prototypes to imagine possible reconfigurations of these spaces.

We will slowly begin to zoom out, thinking about the idea of multiplicity in the construction of a community, engaging with internal relationships before finally confronting the site of the Borgo.


Zooming out will give us the opportunity to parallel the pedagogical structure of the studio with the students’ literal travel to the Italian Countryside - while working remotely you will question how the house is (sometimes forcefully) adapting to these new forms of living; while in quarantine - next to your peers - you will think about distributed proximities and spaces of mediation with your neighbors; finally, once in the Borgo, we will extend the space of the community to respond to specific site conditions. 

“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

Click here to download the Syllabus of ARC407 Design Studio in pdf format.

This document includes all Studio and University Policies

bottom of page