L’asilo più bello del mondo

Articolo

Finalmente ce l’abbiamo fatta. Pare che sia stato progettato l’asilo più bello del mondo! L’opera è dell’architetto bolognese Mario Cucinella che attingendo alle memorie dell’asilo che frequentava da piccolo ha mescolato queste con la sapienza dell’High Tech per dar forma ad un edificio immerso nell’Eden.

Come scrive l’architetto infatti “la costruzione di ambienti per i più piccoli può essere uno spunto di riflessione sul ruolo dell’architettura — ha concluso Cucinella — che non è solo materia da riviste patinate ma può diventare strumento educativo: lo spazio condiziona i comportamenti e bambini cresciuti in un ambiente confortevole, stimolante, adatto alle loro esigenze saranno adulti più consapevoli.” Ed infatti i bambini sono stati già inseriti dentro l’asilo, seduti ai tavoli o su tricicli, avvolti dal calore della luce del sole e del legno. Insomma a quanto pare l’asilo più bello del mondo dell’architetto Cucinella pare già sapere cosa debbano fare i bambini.

Fortunatamente il tutto è solo un rendering. Ci auguriamo che i bambini si divertano a fare ben altro li dentro che essere condizionati dall’architettura…

Il diritto all città: senzatetto e senza cittadinanza

Allora, se da er caso che si a’ gente che te giudica come n’invisibbile, nessuno se cura de vedè quello che fai davero. Specialmente quanno quello che fai so piccole cose, che però nun so piccole manco pe gniente. Quanno sei parte dell’esclusi, uno difficirmente s’accorgerà de quello che davero stai a fa. Sta cosa se potrebbe di che dipenne da na cosa strana che se chiama ideologgia. A vita, se dice che, viene vissuta e osservata co n’angolo da e persone e st’angolo nun è gnient’artro che er proprio bagajo curturale- n’poche parole noi scejemo quello che volemo vede e come. Quanno che sei n’barbone (si si, n’famo i rifarditi e chiamamo le cose pe come se chiameno) per esempio, te all’occhi da gente sei zozzo, puzzi de vino, piscio e puzzo de strada. O stesso odoraccio che da n’pò se po sentì pure a Roma. Infatti è stato pure riportato da n’sacco de ggiornali, perfino er Nu Jork Taimms (New York Times) l’ha fatto, dicenno de come a Rome ce sta n’problema ca monnezza. Er degrado de Roma l’hanno chiamato.

Quanno che sei n’invisibilbe, nessuno proprio manco sospetta che te poi fa quarcosa de bono pe sta città bella e li spazzi pubblici. E se da er caso che succede che, tra tutt’a monnezza accumulata che’ nfestava a città, o sforzo de n gruppo de barboni ner pulì e sistemà n’portico vicino San Pietro resta comunque anonimo e invisibile come e persone che stanno a fa sta cosa bella. Questa però vole esse na storia de ottimismo, dentro na città dove tutto e tutti pare esse diventato zozzo.

Se da er caso che sto a fa n’dottorato in architettura (mica pe diventà medico, famose a capí io faccio ricerca in università) e pe sto dottorato sto a lavorà co na comunità de barboni che usa n’area sotto n portico vicino a San Pietro pe dormicce a notte. Mo, er proggetto nun è de interesse. N’poche parole avemo proggettato n’aredo dinamico che po esse sia na panchina pubblica che n’materasso pe dormicce a notte cosicché er barbone nun dorma direttamente sur pavimento. Er proggetto se chiama tʌɪt. È n’acronimo che sta a indica che ogni pezzo de st’oggetto misura 10 cm. O scopo è quello de questionà l’aspetto pubblico dello spazio rispetto a n’idea de tolleranza verso er prossimo e provando pure a trasformà quello spazio in un luogo de incontro tra differenze sociali e curturali. 

Come ve dicevo prima, er proggetto nun è rilevante, piuttosto n’paro de aspetti che so venuti fori durante a ricerca si e in du modi: primo, er fatto che in una città bella dove l’abbitanti pare che nun je ne frega n’cazzo più de gniente, na comunità de barboni ner silenzio generale de tutti, pulisce e sistema ogniggiorno o spazio che viene usato. Secondo, sto sforzo nun è mica perché so libberi, maddechè! Sto sforzo è na tattica de sopravvivenza che j’assicura er fatto de potè continuà a sta la e nun esse mannati via.

A prima volta che l’ho ‘ncontrati, m’ha fatto impressione vede come ogni santa mattina questi pulischeno tutto, pure a merda der cane! E o fanno prima ancora che venga l’AMA a puli a strada. Tra parentesi quanno che presentammo er progetto a Caritas, er fatto che a strada venisse pulita dall’ama è stato er primo problema sollevato. A fine è n’oggetto de cartone riciclato, t’o’mmaggini che ppò succedè co l’acqua?? Comunque, giusto n’po de tempo fa, siccome so ritornato pe n’pochetto a Roma je so andato a fa na visita. Aho, manco le cicche per tera! Usano n’barattoletto de e Pringles come portacenere! Io da fumatore me so sentito male, o sai quante ne butto io per tera!!

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E come preannunciato prima, tutto ciò mica è perché so libberi. È na tattica de sopravvivenza. N’fatti quanno stavamo a parlà co quelli de a Caritas, Monsiggnor Enrico Feroci (er presidente) ce fa:

Ce sta er probblema de vedé sta gente che dorme. L’autorità pubbliche, si pensano che diventa na cosa permanente, me sa che se potrebbero pure stranì! Adesso è tollerata!  

A tolleranza è ‘nfatti a ragione per cui si pori cristi ogni giorno puliscono. A tolleranza come dice er filosofo Slavoj Zizek nun è rispettà l’altrui differenza (sociale o culturale). Te credevi te! No, ‘n realtà è imparasse a nun esse troppo intrusivi dello spazio altrui. Vale a di, uno deve imparasse a nun rompe troppo i cojoni, cioè nun te devi da fa notà troppo. E sotto a quer portico sta tolleranza po esse pure chiamata come totalitarismo compassionevole.  A comunità de barboni la a San Pietro potrebbe esse mannata via in ogni momento ma noi (noi tutti), noi semo bboni, noi semo compassionevoli e tolleranti (finche nun rompono er cazzo e continuano a pulì qu’o spazio!!!)

Mo a cosa divertente è che, co tutto er macello co a monnezza de sti ultimi giorni, Alessandro Gassmann ha twittato #Romasiamonoi, chiedendo a tutti i romani de pulì e strade. Mo arcuni, me compreso, erano entusiasti pe st’opportunità de fa vedè n’po d’orgojo civico. Sarebbe potuta esse n’occasione pe avè un po’ de potere. Na forma d’appropriazione de sta città bella che tacitamente diceva: “Io c’ho er diritto su sta città e c’ho er diritto de falla diventà ‘n posto mijore!!” E invece ‘n sacco de gente a cominciato a lamentasse, a di che loro pagano e tasse (ma davero? cioè ne paga nessuno e mo e pagano tutti eh?) pe li spazzini. Loro so ‘n servizio pagato e devono da pulì a città e nun ce stanno cazzi!

Adesso, quanno sei n’architetto e pure un ricercatore, e a ricerca tua riguarda o spazzio pubblico te capita spesso de ‘ncontrà questioni riguardanti a cittadinanza. A parola significa: “Condizione di appartenenza di un individuo a uno Stato, con i diritti e i doveri che tale relazione comporta.” Poi nell’uso più comune se po di che significhi pure “appartenenza di un individuo a una città: cmilanesefiorentina, ecc.;” Cioè sei un cittadino. Mo sta parola cittadino nun significa solo che te vivi a Roma, ma implica pure na serie de diritti, cioè te sei legalmente riconosciuto come ‘n soggetto che appartiene a na città o a n’intero paese. Io so nato a Roma e so sia italliano che romano.

E però mo qua e cose diventano strane, se complicano ‘n pochetto. Si noi semo cittadini romani perché ce nascemo, po esse che sta storia sia ‘n po’ limitante? Po mai esse che invece non sia solo na cosa ereditata che a Roma equivale a di regalata (e quanno che na cosa t’a regaleno nun te ne frega gniente)? A’a luce der fatto che sta città è stata proprio abbandonata, mica solo dalle Istituzzioni, ma ancor deppiù da li romani che de solito se lamenteno solo quanno na situazione raggiunge livelli ‘nsopportabbili, mica prima, na domanda m’a farei: chi c’ha er diritto de chiamasse cittadino? So semo meritato sto diritto? Allora se da er caso che ce sta no studioso grosso, tale Davidd Arvei (David Harvey) che nel libbro Rebbell Sitis (Rebel Cities) scrive de come sto diritto sia caratterizzato da come a gente voja che a città sia. A città è l’immagine dei desideri, richieste, aspirazioni e bisogni d’a’ gente che c’abita ma pure er riflesso de quello che sta gente effettivamente è. Cioè, nun è tanto solo si a città funziona o no, ma piuttosto de che tipo de’ individui volemo esse. Mo, er Comune co tutti l’artri enti e uffici vari e ppiù de tutto li romani co sta prosopopea de lamentasse e basta hanno negato un diritto a sta città. Er diritto de potè godè de Roma bella! E de falla godè pure all’artri! Hanno mostrato che quello che vojono in realtà esse nun è esse Romani, ma esse n’differenti, egoisti, distaccati ma soprattutto er crimine peggiore secondo me, avete fatto vedè da esse schiavi dello status quo “io pago e tasse, devo ave li servizzi” (ma solo a parole! mica hai fatto ‘n cazzo pe annatte a pija sti servizzi!!) Dall’altro lato ce sta er fatto che o stesso sforzo ‘mpiegato silenziosamente e oggni giorno da na comunità de persone invisibbili vicino er colonnato der Bernini a San Pietro pe garantì a tutti de godenne è lo stesso che hanno messo su internet ‘n sacco de romani. Tutti co e scope ‘n mano a fa vedè quanto so bravi a pulì. L’unica differenza è che siccome a San Pietro so barboni, so pure esclusi, nun li carcola nessuno (e mica che o fanno solo quanno Roma fa schifo, o fanno sempre, pure quanno te che mo stai co a scopa stavi ‘n ciavatte a casa  a grattatte a panza!!!). E sai qual’è a cosa divertente, nun je damo manco er diritto de potè di semo pure noi cittadini romani!

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Io mo na domanda c’avrei: che succederebbe si pe di, così pe dì, o stesso livello de tolleranza riservato pe quei barboni vicino a San Pietro fosse usato pe misurà l’impegno civico de ogni romano a mantenè e a fa mantenè sta città pulita? 

Probbabbilmente sta comunità de barboni vicino la ar Bernini continuerà a esse pure ‘nvisibile però na cosa è sicura, c’avemo tanto da’ mpara da ste persone. E mo lo vojo di, si #Romasiamonoi allora #Romasopureloro!

N’urtima cosa giusto pe favve capí. Quanno li so annati a trovà m’hanno visto smagrito e se so preoccupati. O sapete che hanno fatto, m’hanno regalato da magnà! Regalato!! E se so pure ‘ncazzati perché je volevo da i sordi!! E m’hanno detto, “l’importante è che nun te vergogni de noi!”

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The right to the city: Homeless with(out) citizenship

When you are regarded as invisible nobody notices or pays attention to what you really do. Especially when what you do is actually very little things, whose are non the less not trivial at all. When you are part of the excluded, one hardly will care about what you do. This may be otherwise depending on ideology. Everyday life is in fact experienced and observed at an angle by individuals and the angle is simply due to one’s own cultural background- we choose what to see and how. When you are a person who has found him/herself homeless for instance you are largely supposed to be dirty, smelling of a mixture of alcohol, pee and life on the street. That same stink smell it could be smelt in the city of Rome until last week. It was reported in fact by many newspapers and tv news both national and international how Rome is having a major issue with waste collection. #The Decay of Rome it was called.

When you are invisible, nobody will even suspect you are actually doing something for the good of the city of Rome and its public space. And for instance it happens that, among all the rubbish bags, cardboards and plastic bottles that infested the city lately,  the effort of a community of rough sleepers in tidying and cleaning up a portico area nearby St Peter’s Square remains unnoticed, anonymous and invisible as much as the people who are carrying out the effort. However, what I would like to tell here is a story of optimism. In a city that seems to be wrapped into negativity and where everything and everybody seems to be dirty, this aims to be a message of hope.

For my PhD in architecture, I am currently carrying out a work with a community of homeless people that uses the portico area nearby St Peter’s Sq as a temporary shelter to sleep over night. The project I am developing is not so much of interest here. In a nutshell, it is a dynamic urban furniture made out of recycled cardboard that can be both city bench and a mattress for rough sleepers, providing a means by which the latter does not have to sleep directly on the ground. The name of the object is an acronym; tʌɪt – the adjustment is ten. Ten centimetres is the thickness of each cardboard panel, which constitutes the object and is the distance between a body and the ground. The aim of the project is to challenge the public in space, problematising with issues such as tolerance and relationship with the other and trying to turn the space of the portico into a space of encounter of  social and cultural differences.

As said above, the project is not relevant per se, rather some of the aspects that emerged and were witnessed during the research phase are of interest in a twofold fashion: Firstly, the fact that in a city where its inhabitants seem to have some how lost their civic pride and virtue, a community of homeless people silently cleans and tides up everyday the space that they use. Secondly, this effort is a survival tactic deployed by them, which is aimed at securing their permanence there and not being moved away by public authorities.

When I first encountered this community, I was struck by the fact that every morning they clean up the space before the street cleaners arrive to wash the street. When we presented the project to Caritas (one of the most important charitable bodies involved in social works for homeless people), street cleaning was indeed one of the issues that was raised by them and that could affect the whole project. After all, this consists in an object made out of cardboard. I have witnessed with my eyes how they care of the portico area and the effort they put to maintain the space cleaned. Just recently I went for a visit and I could not not to notice how for instance Pringles tubes were used as ashtrays to keep the portico clean by cigarette butts.

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However, this effort in not due to freedom. That is to say, it is not really a free choice. Rather, it is a survival tactic. When the project was presented to Caritas, Monsignor Enrico Feroci said to us:

There is the issue with seeing people who sleep! public authorities, if they noticed that rough sleeping becomes permanent, I think it would make them react. Now it is tolerated…; 

Tolerance is in fact the reason why the community of homeless people in St Peter’s Sq is driven by cleaning up the space every morning. Tolerance, as the philosopher Slavoj Zizek would say, is not how to respect the other’s (cultural or social) differences. Rather it is to learn how not to intrude into the other’s personal space. One is supposed to learn how not to be intrusive. In this respect, again taking Zizek into account, what is at stake here is a form of tolerance that could be alternatively defined as merciful totalitarianism. The community of rough sleepers nearby St Peter’s Sq could be kicked away at any time but we (we all) are merciful and tolerant (inasmuch as they are respectful, that is they keep cleaning up that space. Funnily, with all the issue with rubbish a famous Roman actor, Alessandro Gassmann last week twitted #Romasiamonoi, asking all Roman denizens to clean up the streets themselves. The funny side of his call is that some of the people, me included, were enthustiatic about the opportunity of showing some civic pride. It could be an empowering activity that would have shown everybody how the city is not so much a matter of policies or political choices, rather of people that get in control of their city. A form of appropriation of the city that tacitly says, I have the right to the city and to make it a better place!  However, Mr. Gassmann’s call was not embraced by the majority of Romans. Many people started complaining about the fact that they already pay plenty of taxes for the street cleaners. This is a service that they expect to work and therefore they are absolutely not interested in taking any sweeper to clean up the street.

Now when you are an architect and a researcher, and your research involves public space you are often faced with questions concerning citizenship. The word means: “The position or status of being a citizen of a particular country”. It is the word citizen that is interesting for it does not simply means that one is inhabiting a particular place. Rather, it entails also a right: One is “legally recognised” as a subject of a state or a city. I was born in Rome and therefore, I have inherited my Italian citizenship. And I am of course a Roman citizen.

Nonetheless, one should reflect upon the question with citizenship and whether the right to call him/herself a citizen can be related to something more than just the mere fact it is inherited. In light of the fact the city was so left to fall into decay, not only by institutions but even more by Romans that usually complain only when a problem has reached intolerable levels, who has really the right to be called citizen? Who has really the right to the city? In this respect, David Harvey in the book Rebel Cities argues how the right to the city is actually characterised by the way people want the city to be. The city is the image of people’s desires, demands, aspirations and needs but also the reflection of what type of people we want to be. The question with the right to the city concerns not simply how the city functions but also how its inhabitants are or want to be. In this respect, the City Council’s apparatus and most of all the Roman denizens with their complaints about not sweeping the streets themselves have denied the right to the city. They have denied to right to enjoy the city, to make it accessible and enjoyable for many. The have shown what type of people they want to be, indifferent, selfish, detached and above all they have shown that blind acceptance of the status quo “I pay taxes I must have services”. On the other hand, the same effort that is put by a community of invisible people nearby St Peter’s Sq, silently and every day, to secure their right to accessing the portico is portrayed by many Romans who are posting pictures of themselves cleaning up the streets. The only difference is that because of they are invisible and excluded, they also do not have any right to be called citizens.

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I have a question that is keeping knocking into my mind: what would ever happen if the same level of tolerance reserved for the community of homeless people nearby St Peter’s Sq was deployed to measure the level of civic engagement of those Roman denizens that do not care about their city?  

Perhaps the community of rough sleepers in St Peter’s Sq will keep being invisible but, it is sure thing the fact that we all have lots to learn from them. And if #Romasiamonoi (We are Rome) then #Romasonoancheloro (They are also Rome)!!

Pensieri sciolti camminando per Milano  or loose thoughts in Milan 

Le città sono piene di cicatrici che non sono discorsi abbandonati ma brani pieni di vitalità; non qualcosa di cui vergognarsi ma bensì un tratto distintivo.

Queste sono il segno dell’umanità che ha vissuto in quegli spazi; la traccia del passaggio di individui, delle loro storie, così come dei loro incontri. Queste cicatrici ci raccontano di ciò che si è visto e vissuto, sentito e annusato. Delle libertà e delle obbedienze allo spazio.

Le cicatrici delle città non sono li a ricordare gli errori ma a testimoniare la vitalità della città. Non sono il vincolo con un passato ma uno spunto per costruire il futuro partendo dal presente.

Cities are teemed with scars that are not abandoned discourses but rather pieces of vitality; scars are not something to be ashamed of but distinctive traits.

These are the sign of humans that lived these spaces; traces of the passage of individuals, of their stories as well as of their encounters. These scars tell us of what has been experienced and lived, heard and smelt. Of freedom and obedience to space.

The scars of the city are not there to remind us about mistakes, but to testify city’s vitality. They are not a bond with a past but a hint to build up the future starting from the present. 

  

Architecture of Alterity Symposium in Edinburgh

It has been a great 2 and half day conference at Edinburgh Uni, talking about alterity. Great talks and presenters. As Dorian Wiszniewski pointed out in the closing remarks, we have not been lazy with regards to alterity. However, as long as we were discussing alterity, that is, the other and otherness, informality and so on, I couldn’t not to notice how these concepts were dealt in a very formal fashion. Particularly, informality or informal architecture. When I heard these words I had the strangely familiar feeling that something was not said. A very loose thought  in fact may be that if we say informality with regards to architecture, we must implicitly admit that it is named in that way because there is part of architecture as a profession which is formal. That is, on a first instance informal architecture seems to be an alternative way of making architecture. Additionally, informality in architecture is a term that reflects itself the very fact that architects refer to it in that way, because they eventually start from a foundational background which is de facto very formal. Informal architecture may be said quite simply to represent spontaneity and the capacity of people (common people- unwitting architects) of adapting themselves to the environment in which they have found themselves. In particular, to build the environment from scratch and by using what they have; A sort of contemporary version of primitive huts. Conversely, the foundational background of architecture, when it refers to spontaneous architecture as informality, implies that it is very formal. And having gone through several years of architectural studies, training and now as PhD candidate I got the impression, perhaps a little bit rushing, that also the fact that architecture is formal has in itself a very paradoxical stance. It is often argued how architecture is a sort of mixture between a technical profession and a very creative (artistic) act. For instance, Wolf Prix often pointed out how many of Coop Himmel(b)lau’s projects were due to the natural gesture, almost unconscious, of the hand when sketching. The house in Santa Monica is indeed exploring this modalities. However, it is very formal in defining a space inside, functions and so on. Further, it is surely not regarded as informal architecture. What it seems to be at stake here with this very loose thought about (in)formality is that the latter dries out ideas from their very nature of being spontaneous gestures and what we regarded as informal is because architects’  training is formal and based on formality. Anyways, besides these very brief thoughts, yesterday I managed to turn a very formal way of conducting a Q&A session into something a little bit formal. I don’t know whether people enjoyed that but as said above, when a conference deals with alterity, otherness, informality, radical stuff, it sounded to me too formal to sit on a sofa-chair-kinda-talk-show and answer to people’s questions. The video of the short experiment is here: Symposium Architecture of Alterity

this could explain more…. Normal person

Conscious/Unconscious: Stercoral new properties

Image courtesy aladario.blogspot.it

Image courtesy aladario.blogspot.it

I was having a coffee with some friend of mine in Rome and I noticed a group of “seeker” ransacking a rubbish bin in search of some object inside. This is not a new practice in Italy, but it made me think about the relationship between conscious/unconscious in the value of our belongings. When we get rid of our belongings, throwing them away, we are conscious of the fact they have no longer value. At the same time, we are unconscious of the fact they still have some value, or perhaps potentially have. These seekers, on the contrary, are conscious of the fact that our discarded belongings have value, but what they unconsciously do is that they outline the stercoral aspect of property. Something that already Michel Serres talked about. In a nut, a bowl of salad is passed by at a table. I spit in the salad, the latter all of a sudden becomes mine for nobody else will eat that salad. I have made it mine by spitting in it. My saliva has established a boundary that no one wants to overcome. 

There are people in this world who have the power of establishing boundaries around objects and make the latter their own property. What perhaps we all stil haven’t got is that when we buy something at shops it is never really our property. Money is an exchanger, it does not establish any boundary but a temporal permission. We make transactions without really owning something. We buy something, we use it, the latter gets exhausted, consumed and we throw it away, in the bin. We are only relays, ferrymen, points in the chain between those who own properties and those who will. When our supposed belongings are thrown away in the rubbish bin, they become part of the bin. These objects are property of themselves for they acquire a boundary made by dirty and bad smells. Objects become repulsive and repugnant.

And so, the seekers who enter the bin to get these objects, they become the new owners by becoming part of that smell. For their action, at sight so repugnant, makes these seeker establish a boundary that no one else wants to put on. They are the other side of the chain. On the one hand the place is occupied by those who own the property, in the middle relays, exchangers of money for objects, customer and consumers, and at the end again new owners. But this is not an end rather a new beginning from what is supposed to be only shit.

Unconsciously those seekers outlines how capitalism is never consumption but rather a never-ending beginning were the collective do not own anything and the real owners are only those who are capable of establishing boundaries over objects.