Design Studio

The Pontine Plain: What’s next for this ‘rural’ landscape?

Summer Semester 2018

Habitat Unit / International Urbanism and Design in cooperation with MODSCAPES

Aine Ryan – Habitat Unit, Vittoria Capresi – Habitat Unit / MODSCAPES

During the Summer Semester 2018, Aine Ryan and Vittoria Capresi organised and supervised a Design Studio for Bachelor students, focused on the analysis of the landscape of Pontinia and the Pontine Plain. The Design Studio started with a 10-days workshop in Pontinia, fully granted by the DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service (Hochschuldialogue mit Südeuropa Grant, applicant: Vittoria Capresi in cooperation with Cristina Pallini, PoliMi).

During the 10 days in Pontinia students worked on the analysis, preparing data and material to develop their design. During the semester students developed ideas to activate potentials and situation which can develop into a more sustainable future. The results of the design studio were presented at the IFA exhibition at the Technical University of Berlin.

Can we – architects, urban planners and historians – advance a reading of the present day rural landscape focused on the internal processes and cultural practices that shape it: as the basis for a constructive and sustainable future chapter, that can be envisioned and steered through active and inclusive engagement between residents and local authorities?

The studio is a collaboration with MODSCAPES – an EU-funded research project at the Habitat Unit on the meaning and role of European modern rural landscapes. The study area is the industrialised landscape of the Pontine Plain south of Rome, that was drained, resettled and restructured under Mussolini – between 1927 and 1939 – into 3000 farms, 18 villages and five new towns. From this fascist “redemption” from the marshes, the Pontine Plain has today become an international exporter of kiwis.

A fieldwork phase will explore a section of the plain from the sea to the mountains, containing the town of Pontinia: to catalogue the physical elements that form it as well as the intangible aspects that imbue meaning and significance; to compare the perception and experience of the formal settlement structure with the spatial footprint of everyday life in the region today; and to depict the processes and practices that steer this landscape today.”

Jacob Albrecht, Charlotte Arens, Sebastian Bidault, Sophia Brandnder, Marlene Braun, Paula Bruns, David Dietrich, Noha Elhady, Paulina Hagen, Benjamin Herrmann, Diya Ghantus, Andrej Klußmann, Janek Küttner, Mona Schmid, Amine Mashhadireza, Edda Meinertz, Marwa Ouglissi, Eda Özaltay, Petar Rajevic, Sebastian Roth, Anna Sadaei, Philipp Sumpf