Studio 03: Crossing Cultures Industrious Edgelands: a productive threshold between town and country

Studio brief

The region of Belmonte in Calabria has come to embody a frontier for migrants and refugees from West Africa attempting to gain access to Europe, as well as for Italians, desperate to sustain their shrinking towns against the magnetic pull of Italy’s urban centres. We suggest solving this imbalance through conscientious efforts of settling education and industry within the region, integrating the migrants arriving on Italy’s coast and slowing the flow of young Italians seeking work in the North. Benefitting the culturally diverse population, we will re-imagine strategies for the depopulated villages that can become precedents for other regions in a similar predicament. 

Crossing Cultures started in summer 2016 as a live project and has since expanded in scope: collaborating with the municipality of Belmonte, our students work closely with local stakeholders, recent graduates of The Cass and postgraduate students from Unit 6, developing projects which shape the local dialogue and show up new opportunities for the village. 

This year, we will expand beyond last year’s territory, which focused on the medieval hill-top village, and investigate the surrounding fertile landscape as an attractor for industry and provocateur for the village. We will speculate how we can spatially and materially animate the interior civic spaces of the village by providing a new Industrious Edgeland to the existing town. 

The project is initiated by a photographic study of the London Wall, exploring figures on its boundary, such as churches and gateways to the city. This will provide the façade study to investigate an interior block of the city in South Bermondsey, London through film and animation. Here, the post-war industrial sheds and two central cross streets of this small area, curiously resembles the layout of an early Roman settlement, where on a hot sunny day, you can find Sam’s ice cream van beside a black cab workshop, designer offices, and numerous religious centres. 

Packing up these studies, for the trip to Calabro, we will stop off momentarily at the classical Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. From there we will travel to Belmonte, finally unpacking our studies of the Industrious Edgeland in Belmonte, where your research will actively engage with the locals as a contribution to a culture of generosity.


Image: Film Screening Night in Belmonte, Italy, November 2017, Florian Siegel, La Rivoluzione delle Seppie

Film projected onto building with street lamp


Tutors Sandra Denicke-Polcher
Jane McAllister

Academic Facilitator for
the Calabria Project

Rita Elvira Adamo
Where Goulston Street
Room GS2-24
When Tuesday and Friday

Architecture Studios


Cass Studios archive by year