Five hybrid projects for the rebirth of Italy in the Italian Pavilion curated by Mario Cucinella.
“Arcipelago Italia is a manifesto that points to possible ways forward for the revival of the interior territories, to restore value and importance to architecture and because the work of the architect must reclaim a role of social responsibility,” says Mario Cucinella, curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. In introducing Arcipelago Italia, he presents five project proposals that show how architecture can offer an opportunity for rebirth for Italy, becoming a tool for discussion and also an aid to community and local administrators. Five ambitious visions rooted in their specific places and able to reactivate diverse communities: the result of many-voiced, multidisciplinary and inclusive design process, coordinated by Cucinella and his staff, led by six emerging architectural firms in collaboration with local universities and numerous excellent professionals in well versed in the local contexts, expert consultants in architecture, community engagement, culture, art, health, mobility, landscape, earthquake and training.
“The Italian Pavilion 2018,” says Federica Galloni, Director General Contemporary Art and Architecture and the Urban peripheries of the Ministry / of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT) and Commissioner of the Italian Pavilion, “offers a new way to look at Italy, which has roots in the past, values the present, but above all plans for the future. The work of the curator Mario Cucinella, addressing the areas most distant from the Italian metropolitan areas, deals with very current issues: sustainability and the environment, social inclusion and sharing of intangible heritage, earthquakes and collective memory, work and health, regeneration and contemporary creativity, our essential themes.”
“I am convinced that, as a decisive tool for reviving the interior territories, architecture must return to the center of our culture and public debate and also be used as a form of representation through politics and institutions in making informed decisions on the future of the Country,” explains the curator Mario Cucinella. “I have selected five strategic areas and six professional studios, constituting a collective of professionals, who have worked on the development of five hybrid building projects, supported by citizen participation processes, with the aim of contributing to solving problems stemming from depopulation and inadequate services.”
Below are the five experimental projects:
Off-cells. A work-place for the Casentinesi Forests
A diptych for Camerino. Reconnecting community through culture in the Crater area
Basento workshop. Two healing sites for the Materana Hillside
Cultivating the future. A piazza for the growth of the Belice
The citizens’ house. A place for care in the Barbagia
The selection of the sites already presents an opportunity to bring out the themes on which we must work, according to the curator: Belice and Gibellina are at the root of the debate on the role of art and cultural heritage in cities; Camerino offers the opportunity to talk about reconstruction and the relationship between temporariness and permanence; in Barbagia there is a need for new spaces for healing and health; in Valle del Basento and in the Matera hill, mobility and tangible and intangible connections are the engine of development; the revival of woodlands and of the timber production chain starts from the Casentinesi Forests. The purpose of the narrative of Arcipelago Italia is also to raise awareness of Italy, its most invisible and wounded parts but also its richest in potential and beauty: the largest reserve of oxygen in the country, the places where small and large cities have emerged, through centuries of history, paths, people and architecture, places affected by earthquakes, the people and the way they manage their spaces, cultural liveliness and the struggle of many communities to remain in their own towns. Activating a community listening policy is one of the fundamental prerequisites for truly communicating a revival message: people, their knowledge and their expertise are the main resource of a place. “Over these months we have launched listening policies and engagement with associations and with all the players in each context, with the aim of having a positive impact on the territory,” explains the curator, “and arriving at innovative, unexpected and shared design proposals.”
The experimental challenge that Mario Cucinella encouraged in the collective is that of the hybrid building. The idea finds its raison d’être in the context of the reflections developed in the research of Arcipelago Italia. One of the main drivers that leads to the abandonment and consequent lack of protection of the territories is the inadequacy of essential services. Occasionally, in certain virtuous contexts, communities are self-organized and develop sites where the same space, in different times and different ways, can be experienced by the community as places of aggregation, of education, of culture, of health and services.
“Arcipelago Italia proposes to give an aesthetic form to these spaces with contemporary architecture that enriches the value of heritage / and landscape, projects of high quality,” explains the curator, “expressed as empathy with the context, a sense of measure and feasibility, by virtue of an ability to both respond to the needs of the communities and interpret future opportunities.”
The need for an experimental approach lies in the complex dynamics that affect the territories, reinterpreting the as-yet unexpressed needs of a society and of an evolving context, relying on a multidisciplinary set of skills to accompany the architect’s sensitivity. The task entrusted to the collective has been, in fact, to confront each of the five design challenges in a synergistic way. The six architectural firms involved are partly linked to the territories, in part they have been chosen for their talent and their ability and they represent a new generation of professionals. Working along with them is a group of consultants and experts, a team of photographers and local universities is working, in order to build a strong linkage amongst bodies of knowledge.
The collective is composed of:
Designers: AM3 with arch. Vincenzo Messina, BDR Bureau, diverserighestudio, Gravalos Di Monte Arquitectos, MoDus Architects, Solinas Serra Architetti.
Universities: University of Basilicata - Prof. Chiara Rizzi, University of Bologna - Prof. Andrea Boeri and Prof. Ernesto Antonini, University of Cagliari - Prof. Giorgio Peghin, University of Camerino - Prof. Maria Federica Ottone, University of Palermo - Prof. Maurizio Carta.
Other experts: Giuseppe Zummo (artist), Emmanuele Curti (archaeologist), Sardarch (collective of architecture and research).
Scientific Committee to support research: Massimo Alvisi, Antonella Agnoli, Michele Bondanelli, Andreas Kipar, Matteo Pedaso and Roberta Filippini (LAND), Matteo Marsilio (Domus Gaia), Federico Parolotto and Francesca Arcuri (MIC), Enzo Rizzato.
Concept and implementation of the participatory design process: Ascolto Attivo srl, with Marianella Sclavi, Agnese Bertello and Stefania Lattuille. Photographic
Narrative: Urban Reports.
Mario Cucinella and his staff.
The five research projects, together with materials that give historic background, the existing conditions and possible future scenarios, will be exhibited in the second tesa of the Arcipelago Italia exhibition at the Biennale Architettura 2018, from 26 May to 25 November 2018.