The Power of the Young Town

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In Italy, after the Second World War, according to Fanfani and Tupini’s laws (1949), INA-casa and its procuring entities’ ventures made a motor of urban renewal from the enthusiasm and the commitment of many entrepreneurs and public administrators. In Palermo, the agricultural lands began to include new neighbourhoods that quickly merged with the historic and nineteenth-twentieth century centre. In the fifties, between the town and its geographic limits (the mountains of the Corona dei Colli) a beltway has been hypothesized. It was a founding board (Culotta, 2005). In the sixties, it was the spine of an expanding urban fabric that absorbed citrus groves, vineyards, olive groves, field of flowers, gardens, rural buildings, warehouses, villas, and historical villages. This continuous town is about fifty years old: it is very young, considering the ancient core was founded in VI century B.C.. “Young” is intended as especially dynamic, heterogeneous, creative and, potentially, ecologic, like the compact city is not. Its inertia against physical changes is slighter, indeed human action is very powerful, consequently also possibly dangerous. The risk is a cancellation of identities and human traces: sometimes those are weak or hidden, in Palermo always present. In the Sixties and Seventies abstract plans often prevailed on the rural heritage, however a cultural change, in which the progressive awareness of environmental pre-existences (Rogers 1958) had an important role, made architects and planners more and more sensitive about the marks of the territories. Two previous researches - MIUR PRIN 2007 “Design and Updating of Public Housing in southern and central Italy” (national coordinator B. Todaro) and the exhibition in Rome “Looking for a normal town. The role of the public housing in the growth of the Italian towns in the last 50 years” (15th April – 15th June 2016, State Archive, Rome) - are the scientific base to deepen analogies and differences between three neighbourhoods of Palermo: ZEN, Borgo Ulivia and Public Housing of Villabate. The aim is a focus on the spaces between and around the buildings (on their identities, scales, sizes, geography, social practices) to explain their potential in terms of innovation and interconnection between anisotropic parts. Text and drawings will “tell a story” (B. Secchi 1992) about possible positive futures of these neighbourhoods. While in the cases of Borgo Ulivia and Villabate, general visions almost in a territorial scale will be presented, for the example of ZEN also a zoom will be shown. It is an architectural proposal about an urban completion and a new infrastructural connection useful to argue a strongly inter-scalar approach.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017


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