Tutors: Maurice Mitchell & Francesca Pont with Sandra Denicke-Polcher & Jane McAllister
Title: ‘Crossings’ suggests journeys and hybridisation, this year we focus issues which bring the depopulation of Italian villages in close proximity with a growing need to integrate refugees arriving on its southern coast. Given this context, our site will focus on a strip of land from sea to mountain spring in the Belmonte region of southern Italy, the task being to survey, negotiate, develop and build imaginative cross cultural initiatives around and within the town of Belmonte.
Economy: A topographical strip across the local terrain of Belmonte shows us the play of different historical and social economies; sea, beach strip, highway, railway, suburbia, olive grove, hill town, monastery, cemetery and mountain spring, evidencing the various forms of occupation from the most profane to the most sacred.
Culture: The architectures of Sicily and mainland Italy evidence the mixing of afro-Italian cultures which have historically been precipitated through rich cultural dialogue.
Theatre: Economy and culture become our point of departure to discuss contemporary architecture. At building and village scale, we will approach the project through theatre, exploring a range of occupational scales from the building element to town square. If we see theatre as negotiating the cultural nuances of public and private life through décor, furniture, building element, room, and street elements, then our task in this instance to re-read the existing fabric and industries through the gaze of ‘Crossings’
Scales of occupation: We will simultaneously start small and large understanding the prosaic, poetic, theatrical and material role of a chosen building element, door window, hearth etc in relation to public private occupation, as well as mapping the economic and topographical landscape of Belmonte area.
Field trip: London to Sicily to look at the influences of afro-Italian architectures, Riace, Calabria, where a cross cultural initiative of repopulation has rejuvenated the town and lastly we will travel to Belmonte where we will gather survey information and work with the towns people as the first step to re-thinking contemporary Italian settlement.
Practice: This Unit has been developed by student led summer workshops and so casts it nets wider than the studio. We will work with real clients and support the first initiations of Rivoluzione delle Seppie to continue a holistic working method with Cass students and tutors, recent graduates, professionals and refugees (based in Calabria) – seeing this method as an innovative contribution to architectural collaborative practice.