Palermo Nord

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The contemporary extensions of Italian and European medium-sized and large cities have generated complex stratifications, which entail old and new questions. The speed at which the cities grew, measurable over almost half a century (50s-80s), produced an urban phenomenology, which is difficult to understand when compared to the slow sedimentation of historical centres. The book focuses on one of these urban areas, located in the northern extension of Palermo, often referred to as Piana dei Colli. This area, pushed by the rapid and intense speculation impulse, was generated as a dense residential neighborhood, made of collective dwellings and characterised by fragmented ownership. Today, some Baroque Villas, gardens and fragments of rural villages, which have been encompassed by the expansion, represent focal points that are not always obvious, generating interactions with this plain, modern pattern. In many cities, the building-boom takes place according to illegal mechanisms, and in Palermo in particular, this phenomenon has been defined by the Press as the ‘Sack of Palermo’. These areas of the city are now prestigious neighbourhoods for middle-class people, retaining a high value because of their position and use, yet often considered by the same people as a “crime scene”, causing a kind of urban schizophrenia, and making the creation of a positive identity for the area difficult. One of the aims of the book is to place into context this major transformation, comparing it to the previous ones, which took place within the same landscape throughout the centuries, and attempting to dispel the notion of an “evil” concrete city that is predominant in the public opinion. The apparent lack of order, of public spaces and facilities is due to urban regulations, which gradually, because of massive variations to the original master-plan (1956), only took into account the landholding system, thus putting private interests before those of the public.The dwellings of these developments, defined in Italian as condominio (taking into account only their administrative side, but leaving aside any typological character), were perceived by the middle class as a social upgrade from other types of dwellings. These uninteresting constructions, which are believed to be a degeneration of the legacy of modern architectural culture in terms of dwellings and towns, perhaps were simply not affected by modernity at all, except for their constructive system. Understanding this part of the city can allow its economical, urban, and architectural potential to be challenged, redefining its role through both a concrete and symbolic redemption. Can we consider the great number of residential buildings in these areas as a “heritage” (in the broader sense of the word), both individual and collective, for the city’s economy? This question was asked for the first time in 2007, by a group headed by Roberto Collovà, though a series of workshops, lectures, and students’ projects, under the title “Urbanizzare il sacco”. The main thesis is that these areas, almost entirely unexplored as a research field, can be identified, described, and deconstructed, provided that we initially suspend our judgment on their apparent architectural and urban qualities; that is why their reinforced concrete structure, made of pillars and beams, can be considered as the enduring part of the city, from where to start from scratch, and imagine future transformation projects to be carried out through a multidisciplinary approach. The other main hypothesis concerns the identification of this area
Lingua originaleItalian
Numero di pagine160
ISBN (stampa)978-88-7462-686-1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014

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