The periphery in Calabria and Sicily is a city built by its inhabitants. It is a city of spontaneous, often il- legal, settlement, with an inexistent urban structure and an unplanned, unregulated public space. The streets, squares, and pavements are residue, debris, or surplus left over from the self-building process carried out by part of the population. In fact, the citizens have created a territory in their own liking, with a little advice from building technicians and the complicity of the public administration employees, in response above all to the requirements of the family structure. They have built up urban agglomerations following a precise set of clandestine rules coming out of a complex network of tradition combined with individual interests. The periphery is a sum of residential districts made up of buildings that appear to be placed at random, without rhyme or reason. Inevitably, the empty spaces of nature (or landscape) left between the buildings become an urban void: oases of spontaneous greenness, vegetable plots, and unauthorised private gardens. Public spaces, dwellings, and nature live side by side in flexible relationships with a spectacular organisational diversity. The urban peripheries of Calabria and Sicily are a refuge for diversity, built out of all the residues and debris of human activity. They share the undecided character peculiar to the “third landscape”, described by the French researcher Gilles Clément as a territory for multiple species with nowhere else to go. This is a territory admitting multiple activities, functions, materials, and freedoms incompatible with the consolidated city, as in our case. In his Manifesto of the Third Landscape, Clément describes the residues as terrains waiting for a destiny and hoping for the completion of abandoned projects. Calabria and Sicily are almost entirely terrains (landscapes) in waiting. Waiting for what? For a project? For a strategy? For a policy? In order to read or try to interpret the landscape of the urban periphery in Calabria and Sicily, to understand its emergencies and apparent requirements we must understand the relationship between the inhabit- ants of southern Italy and the landscape itself, and understand their idea of landscape. The great facility of the cinema for explaining the landscape and the ways of inhabiting it provides a privileged critical perspective and an unusual approach to research. The realism and caustic cynicism of cinematic descriptions of Sicily and Calabria give a portrait of the use of this territory and the contradictory relationship between the population and the landscape, above all in the extraordinary vitality of the public space in both areas. The images show intimate, everyday landscapes used for all types of collective activities, often inhabited by strange domestic animals, such as sheep and horses; full of vitality during the day and at night. Despite the shortages of the empty space (narrow pavements, nondescript road surfaces, insufficient lighting, almost total lack of places to sit, absence of shaded walkways), the squares, streets, lanes and patios are largely representative of the community, due to the economic activity carried out there by the inhabitants. Obviously, these factors do not match up to universally recognised quality standards, but they make the empty space into a real public space, a space of relationship, a community space delimited by boundaries recognised by its inhabitants, a space of belonging, with all its knots and meshes, its networks and codes of behaviour. In this context, we can safely say that architecture has failed on numerous occasions. The forty re-zoning projects carried out over the last twenty years on the peripheries in Sicily and Calabria have had no place in academic journals or in contemporary debate; their quality and relevance have failed to capture the interest of the population. Architecture is often accused of being chronically incapable of clear expression, unable to find the right balance between globalization and regionalization of languages and cultural references. The landscape project in Calabria and Sicily has undoubtedly been more local than global; however, in these contexts, it still seems that architecture has either moved away, or has become too isolated or too obvious, despite obtaining the same effect, self-contracting or self-reducing. The problem may have been the approach rather than the language. In most cases, there was no foreseeing the flexibility and willingness to adapt that would be essential in these spaces of a city built by its inhabitants; a malleability often put aside in favour of an architectural aesthetic or philosophy far from the prevailing contamination. A project is first and foremost the opportunity of a programme through which the periphery can be turned into a pole of attraction for the economy. Here, however, neither the production potential or endogenous re- sources were assessed for producing wealth or for encouraging spontaneous actions deriving from the re-zoning policy. There may have been a lack of systematic, more homeopathic logic, in search of a generalised quality to counteract the marginal conditions of the urban area. The specific solutions hitherto applied may have offered quality, but did not in themselves guarantee a valid response to the demands of urban development, such as a system of public spaces or a planned, consensual re-zoning strategy in different spheres leading to a generalised landscape quality. Perhaps Calabria and Sicily are simply land- scapes waiting for architects and landscape experts to teach us how to produce an explicit aesthetic vi- sion, how to gain a voice and a vocabulary, how to educate our gaze.

Calàbria i Sicília. Paisatges en espera

Manfredi F
2012

Abstract

The periphery in Calabria and Sicily is a city built by its inhabitants. It is a city of spontaneous, often il- legal, settlement, with an inexistent urban structure and an unplanned, unregulated public space. The streets, squares, and pavements are residue, debris, or surplus left over from the self-building process carried out by part of the population. In fact, the citizens have created a territory in their own liking, with a little advice from building technicians and the complicity of the public administration employees, in response above all to the requirements of the family structure. They have built up urban agglomerations following a precise set of clandestine rules coming out of a complex network of tradition combined with individual interests. The periphery is a sum of residential districts made up of buildings that appear to be placed at random, without rhyme or reason. Inevitably, the empty spaces of nature (or landscape) left between the buildings become an urban void: oases of spontaneous greenness, vegetable plots, and unauthorised private gardens. Public spaces, dwellings, and nature live side by side in flexible relationships with a spectacular organisational diversity. The urban peripheries of Calabria and Sicily are a refuge for diversity, built out of all the residues and debris of human activity. They share the undecided character peculiar to the “third landscape”, described by the French researcher Gilles Clément as a territory for multiple species with nowhere else to go. This is a territory admitting multiple activities, functions, materials, and freedoms incompatible with the consolidated city, as in our case. In his Manifesto of the Third Landscape, Clément describes the residues as terrains waiting for a destiny and hoping for the completion of abandoned projects. Calabria and Sicily are almost entirely terrains (landscapes) in waiting. Waiting for what? For a project? For a strategy? For a policy? In order to read or try to interpret the landscape of the urban periphery in Calabria and Sicily, to understand its emergencies and apparent requirements we must understand the relationship between the inhabit- ants of southern Italy and the landscape itself, and understand their idea of landscape. The great facility of the cinema for explaining the landscape and the ways of inhabiting it provides a privileged critical perspective and an unusual approach to research. The realism and caustic cynicism of cinematic descriptions of Sicily and Calabria give a portrait of the use of this territory and the contradictory relationship between the population and the landscape, above all in the extraordinary vitality of the public space in both areas. The images show intimate, everyday landscapes used for all types of collective activities, often inhabited by strange domestic animals, such as sheep and horses; full of vitality during the day and at night. Despite the shortages of the empty space (narrow pavements, nondescript road surfaces, insufficient lighting, almost total lack of places to sit, absence of shaded walkways), the squares, streets, lanes and patios are largely representative of the community, due to the economic activity carried out there by the inhabitants. Obviously, these factors do not match up to universally recognised quality standards, but they make the empty space into a real public space, a space of relationship, a community space delimited by boundaries recognised by its inhabitants, a space of belonging, with all its knots and meshes, its networks and codes of behaviour. In this context, we can safely say that architecture has failed on numerous occasions. The forty re-zoning projects carried out over the last twenty years on the peripheries in Sicily and Calabria have had no place in academic journals or in contemporary debate; their quality and relevance have failed to capture the interest of the population. Architecture is often accused of being chronically incapable of clear expression, unable to find the right balance between globalization and regionalization of languages and cultural references. The landscape project in Calabria and Sicily has undoubtedly been more local than global; however, in these contexts, it still seems that architecture has either moved away, or has become too isolated or too obvious, despite obtaining the same effect, self-contracting or self-reducing. The problem may have been the approach rather than the language. In most cases, there was no foreseeing the flexibility and willingness to adapt that would be essential in these spaces of a city built by its inhabitants; a malleability often put aside in favour of an architectural aesthetic or philosophy far from the prevailing contamination. A project is first and foremost the opportunity of a programme through which the periphery can be turned into a pole of attraction for the economy. Here, however, neither the production potential or endogenous re- sources were assessed for producing wealth or for encouraging spontaneous actions deriving from the re-zoning policy. There may have been a lack of systematic, more homeopathic logic, in search of a generalised quality to counteract the marginal conditions of the urban area. The specific solutions hitherto applied may have offered quality, but did not in themselves guarantee a valid response to the demands of urban development, such as a system of public spaces or a planned, consensual re-zoning strategy in different spheres leading to a generalised landscape quality. Perhaps Calabria and Sicily are simply land- scapes waiting for architects and landscape experts to teach us how to produce an explicit aesthetic vi- sion, how to gain a voice and a vocabulary, how to educate our gaze.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1079748
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