A City To Rehouse


The city of Amatrice was hit in August 2016 by an earthquake, putting on the street hundreds of people. We have chosen to think about a relocation solution for the victims, waiting for the reconstruction of the historic center (which will probably end in several decades). We wanted to put our project as an alternative to the rehousing plans now being put in place in this type of context. Built in an emergency context and systematically conceived as temporary constructions, these projects struggle to propose any urban qualities.

We planned our relocation town on a unique site, close to the destroyed city in order to avoid any isolation of the victims. The urban plan and the architecture are inspired by the codes of the destroyed city, in order to be closer to the local culture, and to allow the victims to preserve their way of life.

This work was extremely technical, with each choice being guided by the speed and ease of implementation, taking into account the seismic risk, and respecting the traumatic aspect of the victims. However, our project has been guided by the desire to move away from the often austere and not very flexible system of traditional encampments. It was through these two dimensions that our graphic language was established. We wanted to distinguish the technical elements and the rigor that characterizes them, from the animated perspectives of the city as we imagine it when appropriate by the victims.


Who influences you graphically?

We had to imagine what the city might look like in a few years.

Then, we choose to purpose a personal and fantasized vision of what rural Italy evokes to us. This vision has probably been influenced by Italian directors such as Federico Fellini, who portrays with authenticity the daily life of 20th century in Italy. Feelings like melancholy and nostalgia are ubiquitous in his work. He explores throught this perception thematics like decadence of society, which is produce a contrast, almost a chaos, with the context of a picturesque scenery of Italian heritage.

This melancholy of lost Italy, which one feels through the aesthetic choices of Fellini, influenced the graphic language of our perspectives. Without being backward, we wanted to make visible the link between our project and the destroyed village of Amatrice.

We also find recurring elements in de Chirico’s paintings, such as the arches, the wall, the column,, which are constitutive of Italian heritage. He confronts them with a subtle work on shadows, lights, or even void. The result produces a kind of dreamed and fixed representations of the Italian landscape.

De Chirico

We’ve been really inspired by his work, especially by the complexity of his pictorial compositions, which has guided us all along our graphic work by giving to us tools that we needed to express the importance of the cultural heritage and especially architectural in the daily of the Italian life.

What defined the painterly language of the views? What was the intention behind these?

Since the beginning we decided to keep the distance of stylistic realism of 3D’s perspective. As architects our work consisted in meet the expectations of crisis context, by concrete urban and architectural proposals. Once the city is built, we canot anticipate how people appropriated their new town and these streets, places and all that composes it. The choice of these pictorial language in our illustrations allowed us to not freeze the project in a particular temporality or falsified reality, nor even in its traumatic circumstances. This allows us to remind the speculative character of our work and urge on the spectator’s imaginary to anticipate the future of the town.

If you could explore the project through one drawing how would you construct this?

Our project is not built about one and only concept but a multitude of decisions, analysis and reflexions on the subject of rehousing issue and its feasibility in a context like Amatrice. Therefore its difficult to summarize in one drawing the differents scales that we approach in our work, from social to urban practice of the “lost city”. But we can easily think up a timeline illustrating the progression of the town. From the time of data collection, through the differents building stage, to the installation of population, the evolution of the city and eventually its desertion.

If you could test the format of the project where would this take you? Have you ever thought of a manual for construction?

The problem of post-disaster rehousing is more than a current and universal issue, which prompted us to think about a generic solution, influenced by the current relocation logic of NGOs.

A generic habitat is probably the least complex solution to implement and the fastest. But the analysis that we have made of those temporary and universal solutions, showed us that these temporary projects are actually rarely temporary, crisis situations tend to drag on. Solutions set up in the emergency are then unable to meet long-term housing needs. This is largely due the lack of consideration of the context (cultural, political, climatic ..) in the design of these relocation projects, which results in an impossible appropriation, not adapted to the local lifestyles.

This is why the only universal aspect of our approach remains in the context analysis logic as the starting point of the relocation project. Based on the analysis of the affected city, this logic makes it possible to design a relocation project capable of “making city” and lasting in time.

It is difficult for us to imagine a manual of self-construction given the average age of the population, the the difficult climatic conditions and the construction deadlines to be respected. It would rather be an analysis manual and urban systems, indicating the different phases of the construction site, intended for the construction authorities.Thus, if the idea of a construction manual is attractive, it seems to us impossible to imagine such an universal response to relocation issues, which would not fully take into account the specificity of each post-disaster situation, climate or policy.

What was your work process in terms of project development and drawings ?

The first part of our work consisted in conception of graphic elements of analysis. About housing answer after disaster worldwilde firstly, and ruined city of Amatrice secondly. From old urban Palestinian camp in Beyrouth to the disaster of Haiti and ONG chequered camps, we tried to get what architectural and urban problematic are for refugees today. This census work help us to understand flaws and qualities of existant system and established the groundwork of our project about urban and social intervention like ;

– To not enclave new city in relation to ruined city to avoid the run of damage population.

– Join new frame to existant road network to keep population’s habits and simplify structural work.

– Build in a permanent logic, because we now that in terms of  construction nothing is temporary .

– Apprehend local way of life and needed of population to anticipate urban practice and make the new town coherent.

This analysis help us to became aware of importance of traumatic value in reconstruction after disaster and necessity to build quiclky but localy, in a coherent way with environment and context of lost. Guided by these constraints, the drawing of our work became naturally. The site’s topography , the structure of the old town and urban/architectural italian typologies determined our conception’s choices. Our graphic elements are both made by catalogue of existing elements who help us during all the development of design process and constructive intentions elements and ambiences pictures to envisage the construction and project ourself in the future of this new particular town.