"The Urban Sponge" | TerraViva WS n°6 | Prato-Vaiano | June 2019
"The Urban Sponge" Workshop by Politecnico di Milano + TerraViva Workshop + Earth Service + Ecòl architecture studio + Chi-nà association.
For this 6th TerraViva Workshop 2018/19 students will be working on Vaiano, a small town of 10.000 inhabitants 15 km north of Prato (Tuscany).
Vaiano is set in a beautiful natural environment, a heavily forested valley, where the waterways passing through the town made it a logical place to establish textile mills, which led to the eventual creation of clothing factories. The city grew on a narrow, linear urban pattern that extends 5 km. During the heyday of its productive life, the workers of Vaiano were particularly well organized to mobilize for workers’ rights, medical care (the cooperative pharmacy), and fair housing. In the 1950s they also struggled to keep their autonomy as a city; resisting being colonized, and thus compromised, by Prato. Thus there remains a strong sense of equity that in the past united the residents in old Vaiano.
Today, however, things are different, there is much less employment in the factories, artisan skills are being lost, young people have been moving away, and due to globalization, many of the factories have now been abandoned, leaving significant urban holes. Using photography, video, cartography, and the tools of architecture, students will document, map, and analyze the most hopeless areas of the city.
Through the techniques of video sculptures, learned from the Berliner artist Barbara Weigel, we will try to both dramatize the situation of Vaiano, while proposing elements that might improve its urban future. Many of these new opportunities come from the trend for a share economy.
The first concpets has been presented in Prato on Saturady 01/06, while further refinement of the projects has taken place in Milan during the following week until the final presentation set for Thursday 13/06 at PoliMi.
Photo Credits © Eugenia Bolla