Another city is possible
1st part - Enorme Studio
As often happens with projects that directly or indirectly affect the urban space, even Matera 2019 can be seen and used as an excuse to create another city, to influence its dynamics and to create new ones.
It is on this principle that the work of Enorme studio is based, which seeks to understand and improve the city's dynamics starting from interventions in the public space.
But what does it mean "another city"? Let's start from an assumption: how many of you, while talking about street furnitures, will think about someone sitting on the bench or children playing on the slide? It means that often nothing is done in urban space because there are no urban elements to do something or simply because we have an imaginary of them that is so strong and rooted in us that we can not go beyond the use that we have been taught . It is therefore necessary, rather than working on the elements, to work on the idea that the inhabitants have of them and then bring it into the urban space in order to improve the dynamics of use.
This is the basis for the Picnictopia project, conceived for a competition for the Maxxi and then realized on a smaller scale in Rennes, where over 200 picnic tables become the basic module to create a fountain, a small theater, some relationship areas that try to subvert their usual use.
When this change occurs and people begin to enjoy the urban space, it can be considered a small achievement that supports the work done.
It is looking for this change that all the work of the studio is directed (see, for example, the projects Kurul, Schlickeysen - Bovedilla Series and Lacktopia, in which hollowcore slabs mounted on metal frames or simple Ikea tables are reassembled to create new elements). But being the measure of how the project works in the reaction of the user, the approach is made of attempts that try to understand, even through errors, those mechanisms that it is possible to gradually understand but not to govern.
In the Hypertube project, for example, the attempt to create a new urban element through the use of concrete pipes used for gymnastic exercises or, why not, as a space for first sexual intercourse, has turned into a failure caused by the presence of homeless in the neighborhood that made their refuge out of it.
Likewise, the possibility of creating a reconfigurable furniture as in Transformer-bench clashed with the non-immediacy and the difficulty of reassembling that have never seen it be used for what its potential. What happened instead with the swivel benches of Jeanne d'arc on wheels that, despite having partially re-adapt due to vandalism, have had a good response on the public thanks to their ease of use but also to their appearance that declared openly the possible uses without the need for an instruction manual.
Another factor that is not always taken into consideration and which caused another partial failure as in Le Jardin tropical, is the management of space; in fact, the lack of an organization that took care of it meant that, especially the theater structure, was not used for events due to the lack of a deposit or a management plan for the equipment necessary for its use, with the result that the only structure that is used is the one which allows the recharge of mobile phones. This is a very important element to take into consideration because a project does not end with its realization, but must also be thought about its entire life span.
Another of the problems usually found in urban planning is the design of bleachers without a proper scenario, with the result of creating non-lived spaces that, over time, are converted into parking lots.
It’s related to an attempt to solve this problem the strategy adopted for Mountain on the moon, designed for MINI. It involves the creation of moving elements able to move around the square. They are associated with functions such as charging the phone, bleachers and small elements of urban green.
The search for this "happening" in the urban space has then turned into an attempt to make the city space a creative hub capable of starting a network of interaction and exchange, associating the aforementioned elements with a small warehouse for workshops and for working together.
We also find this "mobile creativity" in the Education hub project for Manifesta 12, where mobility is not reduced to the space of a square but to the city sphere through the reconversion of an old bus that becomes a traveling hub.
Examples of good practices from which to take an example can be found in the Urban Spa and Las Tres Marias projects. In the first example, the reconversion of a disused fountain in a small public pool was "adopted" by the citizens, so much so that its temporariness was not accepted and a spontaneous movement was created between the community, the municipality and the university to create something similar; it means that the population's point of view on that place has changed and, with it, the needs that come out from it.
This effect is even more pronounced in the second example, carried out together with the community of Pinto Salinas, a district with a high crime rate in Venezuela. Here, in addition to changing the vision that people have of that space, there has been a strong involvement in the process too, so much so that now the crime rate in that space has decreased and also the community takes care of it and has started using the spare parts of the construction for their other needs, such as creating a small basketball court.
This is a sign that often the impact of a public project on everyday life can be very strong also as a tool to solve serious social problems. The architect's task is not therefore to create self-referential projects, but to try to create that imaginary that can subvert the community's vision towards the space in which it lives.