Following the recent analysis of the United Nations, in the near future, two thirds of the world population, in steady increase, will leave in conurbations/urban areas.
What will be the future of the remaining one third of the global population? The countryside, once motionless and distant, nowadays is suffocated by a recurring barren of monocultures and it is crossed by goods, garbage, information and people flows in close contact with the Urbis/city.
The word agriculture is derived from the Latin word ‘ager’ means land or field and ‘culture’ means cultivation/honouring.
Is it still possible to use technology and mechanization in order to recover the original value of agriculture, and the relation with Earth and her fertility? Which is the role of architecture to give shape to this future?
The Jewish word Maqôr means fount/source. Since the settlement will be on the spring line, calling this project Maqôr is a way to refer to Terapeuti’s tradition: the first Christians settled in the Aquileia’s territory. Terapeuti arrived from Alexandria, and they refused city life and preferred to leave in countryside in the proximity of rivers and springs.
The agricultural settlement of Maqôr is surrounded from the original friulano wood, “Silva Lupanica”. It’s connections with the outside and with the cities, are through an infrastructure on the springs line, that cuts horizontally the northern part of Italy.
The infrastructure will host the electric and water supply systems, waste management system and the people transportation system.
Water will be directly extracted from the aquifer, then purified and injected in the water supply network.
Maqôr will use drones for crops and goods transport, instead of wheeled vehicles. The settlement itself is conceived not for the usual measures (meter and square meter), but travel times. Then the Maqor has not a diameter of 600 meters, but a distance of 25.
What prompted the project?
We both live in the countryside, so it’s a biographical reason. The primary motive that pushed us to choose the theme of our last year’s thesis was the fact that, in general, the countryside is constantly proposed by the media as an ideal bucolic and idyllic place, where butterflies flies, the air is pure and everything is smart. Local politics do so clearly for touristic reason, but, living there we’ve felt that something was missing. So our first idea was to do a research about local agricultural land to find what was the particular moment in the past when things started to change. As we find a lot of different interesting things we’ve felt the need to imagine something heavily different. To do that it was necessary to push the pedal on imagination and provocation.
What informed the choice of site?
We didn’t wanted to give an exact localization of the site of the project, on the contrary, we thought these settlements along a line that passed trough as big portion of territory as it can and that follow the natural resources, like spring water. The fact that we’ve only give a generic localization was dictated by the fact that for us this project was part conceived and drawn as a normal architecture project, and part conceived as a real story. In particular, the fact that we’ve imagined a short story about Maqôr, helped us a lot in the terms of re-drawing a whole part of agricultural landscape, and to build there our new agricultural settlements.
What are your predictions for the future? How do you see the use of sustainable and renewable energy in the year 2070? How will our tools change to adapt to be more collaborative with nature?
As we’ve said before, we started this project because our idea was exactly the opposite of the contemporary manner to idealize the concept of sustainability, green architecture, and in general all that surround the word eco. The sustainable future is given to us by books, magazines and in general, by the media, is sort of picturesque. In particular we feel opposed to the strategy to treat city and countryside as a part of the whole, and to apply rural strategies on the city. It is not only building material, urban gardens or green facades. We think that is the way to consider nature that has to change. To feel more comfortable with nature is to understand the meaning of natural objects as objects that are vital for us, and in this way to feel more rooted in nature as were our ancestors. Technology have the primary role to emphasize and ensure this idea. The purpose of the thesis was to find a line of balance between what is wild nature, and the domesticated one, using technology.
What role does the architect play in this sensitisation on resources?
This is a very difficult one. We think that architecture can only show some way tho do things, in particular how an object, a building or whatever, can or have to relate to nature. But we don’t think that, as architects, we really have the instruments to correctly sensitize on resources, this belongs to other discipline from which we can take what we think is suitable for our projects.
What is your response to projects as Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival? How and to what extent do formats like this have the potential of engaging a wider audience?
The project of the city is slowing showing lack of interest by architects nowadays, partly because in the last century there was a huge focus on utopias related for a large percentage on cities. So for now it is like we’ve find another field through which we can focus on, especially because the countryside, and all the rural areas are important in a future where we will have to deal with the lack of space to live and food to feed ourselves. It seems to us very interesting to imagine the city of the future as a place where nature reclaims itself, especially because this was an attitude that we had already evaluated and implemented for this project.
What prompted the use of the medium of the book as medium through which to share the project?
By drawing Maqôr we’ve felt that to use only architecture tools was not completely satisfying for us, like something was missing. So, to overcome this sort of writer’s block, we’ve wrote down the imagines and the feelings like to arrive there, in Maqôr, for real. We’ve put inside this things a lot of different readings we’ve done, from Sottsass and Bauman to Daumal and Calvino. This helped us a lot to build Maqôr piece by piece, making use of elements that wasn’t easily to translate with architecture language, like some iconic tradition from the past, or local myths and legends, that later in the project we’ve sometimes turned into totems, sometimes as a plugin for houses and greenhouses. In addition to the short novel about Maqôr, we’ve also realized a soundtrack to Maqôr, using music as a tool to emphasize more about the narrative part of this thesis.
What is for you the architects most important tool?
Any kind of idea you have, the better is drawn, the better other persons can understand it, from technical drawings till abstract one. For sure vr technologies are improving the experience of the projects, but a good draw will remain for us the best media you can use, independently if digital or by hand.