Landscape as commons
Michele Porcelluzzi is an architect based in Milan. He studied Architecture at Politecnico di Milano and Technische Universität Berlin. He currently works as a researcher and teaching assistant at Politecnico di Milano, focusing on the relation between architecture, urban space and social dynamics in the contemporary city. He is a member of ILA&UD, International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design, a collaborator at F.A.T. (Forum for Architectural Theory) and a contributor for Domus Web. In 2019 he founded arch / commons, a research project which investigates the concept of collectiveness in contemporary architecture.
In the XX century, small-scale urban areas in rural contexts have been often associated to collective forms of action: in the Team Ten Primer (1962), Peter Smithson defined the villages in the rural landscape as a fundamental part of the European anthropic pattern as much as the cities are, and suggested the possibility of participatory processes in their spatial transformations.
In the framework of these principles, Giancarlo De Carlo started the activities of the ILA&UD – International Laboratory for Architecture and Urban Design – with a series of summer schools in which the projects on Italian rural contexts were developed by students in direct collaboration with the municipality and the inhabitants. The collaborative modality of the ILA&UD summer schools has been applied to historical centres of the selected rural context and it involved a strong sense of physical and sociological survey.
In similar contexts, another approach has emerged a few decades later: the eco-villages. Started as a series of spontaneous experiences in different parts of the Italian territory, these projects have later teamed up within RIVE - Rete Italiana Villaggi Ecologici (founded in 2004).
The two analysed experiences are characterized by similar processes (in terms of involvement of local communities) and by comparable outcomes (the revitalization of historic urban areas in rural contexts). What differentiates them is the starting modality: ILA&UD’s interventions were triggered by an agreement among a group of architects led by De Carlo, the universities and the municipalities; the projects of the eco-villages are activated by a bottom-up process led by the community itself.
By tracing the encounter points and the relations between the two approaches, the contribution aims to investigate how more ‘institutionalized’ design experiences like ILA&UD’s summer schools have constituted a cultural background that informed and opened the way for community-led visions and interventions in more recent years.