The land between the city and suburbs, Italian Pavilion

Published
07 Oct 2018

Reading
3 min


By Jacqueline Ceresoli

The idea of the l6th edition of the Venice Biennial of Architecture is to create inclusive communities, groups of people rather than cities, places designed paying due heed to the landscape and nature. Freespace is the title that has been translated into all the various languages for this Biennial […]. It is no easy matter to define how and when a work of architecture is truly “free”, almost an oxymoron between a space with or without works of architecture, things and houses, most notably people, individuals coming together in a communal space to share a certain notion of community without actually indicating what that notion is.

In accordance with the nationalistic climate gradually gaining a foothold in Italy as walls are being built and borders reconstructed between states and nations, frontiers constraining the free circulation of people and things, the Italian Pavilion designed by Mario Cucinella called Arcipelgo Italia stands out for the quality of its content and the way it takes us off into the provinces, proposing a kind of zero-kilometre architecture rediscovering those small rural communities that represent 60% of the country. This architect was one of the first to experiment with “participated architecture” back when it was not yet fashionable, working closely with multidisciplinary teams and always ready to listen to and interact with locai inhabitants.

His “un-popular” national pavilion presents small towns and villages threatened by economie recessione, exoduses and earthquakes as a resource for redesign work. His survey of communities that stili have intact natural landscapes (stretching from the north to the south of the country and as far as Sardinia) suggests ways of relaunching inland areas to open up a new perspective on our beautiful country whose roots lie way back in the past in order to enhance areas well away from cities through five hybrid, yet convincing projects. The pavilion is divided finto two parts.

The first room contains large luminous panels manufactured by iGuzzini designed to look like open books or ideai guides around the Italian architectural provinces, indicating routes, recklessly-built shelters/refuges and all the calamities and speculation characterising the Italian Archipelago.
The second room set in semidarkness has large wooden tables as winding as the Italian landscape depicting hybrid buildings designed in synch with the territory. The five strategie areas presented as strategie examples of how to relaunch the various lands of Italy are: “Off-Cells, and workplace for the Foreste Casentinesi National Park“; “A Diptych for Camerino. Connecting communities and culture in the craters area“; “Basento Workshop. Two curative hubs for the Matera hillsides“; “Cultivating the future: A square to help Belice grow“: “The citizens; house. A Care home for Barbagia“.

The most interesting project is designed for Valle del Belice that was devastated by the earthquake in 1968, where reconstruction has never been completed despite the contribution of artists and architects in Gibellina Nuova. These areas have been chosen to provide the chance to constructively think about botti tangible and intangible issues concerning our natural landscape, which includes provinces and villages whose “economies are linked to the land and need to be relaunched”. Cucinella does not just copy tried-and-trusted models borrowed from other countries, preferring instead to identify pragmatic means of taking action in order to generate hybrid spaces open to communities aimed at combatting the shortcomings or total failings of politics and politicians down the years, as part of the vital quest to protect and maintain the high quality of our landscape and architecture by means of laws, competitions and targeted projects designed to enhance and embellish the land.

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