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
Studio 01: Generosity
Alex Bank and Sam Casswell
Studio 1 will explore the potential of generosity in architecture. Generosity comes from the design of real things simply expressed; the interrelation of exterior / interior spaces; the gesture of a building; structure / construction; proportions, materials, textures, colours. Practicing these fundamental aspects of architecture will require effort, intellect, humour and a good eye. We will investigate how architecture can bring a lasting sense of delight and pleasure to sites in central London.
Studio 02: After City 2 – Tolerance and Compromise
Colin O’Sullivan and Charlotte Harris
Studio 02 will continue its explorations of European rural settlements, this year in Alentejo, Portugal.
Studio 03: Crossing Cultures Industrious Edgelands: a productive threshold between town and country
Sandra Denicke-Polcher and Jane McAllister
The studio offers students to be part of a larger research group and develop architecture proposals and strategies for the depopulated mountain village, Belmonte Calabro, in Southern Italy. Working with local stakeholders, migrants and graduates, Studio 3 proposes an “Industrious Edgeland” to re-animate the town of Belmonte; preforming as an inhabited live-work threshold and engaging the surrounding landscape with the civic town centre.
Studio 04: Frame and Horizon
Anna Ludwig and Rufus Willis
Studio 4 will consider the topography of London’s city wall and how, through the good governance of urban institutions, sanctuaries in the city can be created to provide support and opportunities for its citizens. Our speculations, informed by two closely related representational conceptions: Frame and Horizon, will assert a public realm in which edge conditions become borders for exchange not boundaries of separation.
Studio 06: The Experimental House
James Payne and David Leech
"While it is true that concentrating on the individual house is socially irresponsible...the little house should not be scorned." Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, Some Houses of Ill-Repute, essay 1971.
Studio 07: Looking Outwards
Robert Barnes and Dr Bo Tang
Studio 07 offers students the opportunity to engage in a transitional setting in Europe; a migrant gateway for refugees in Eleonas, Athens, Greece.
Studio 09: The Foundation: Private Realms, Public Rooms
Jillian Jones, Ewan Stone with David Howarth
Studio 09 are interested in how buildings engage with the public life of the city. We will be working in London and Venice, examining the evolution of domestic architecture from places of living to spaces for exhibition and display.
Studio 10: Both Directions at Once: Architecture After Brexit
Kieran Thomas Wardle and Owain Williams
What will be the Architecture of Brexit? How can the way we build represent a democracy pulling in both directions at once? A flawed memory of the past and an imagined future are the basis of many voter’s reasoning for voting in the 2016 EU referendum. We will be visiting historic buildings around the UK to reimagine defunct architectures to offer a commentary on the divergent identities emerging across the UK, looking to the past to say something surprising about the future.