On Squids and Commons: Creating a better world with La Rivoluzione delle Seppie
From LRDS, Rita Elvira Adamo and Giuseppe Grant — also member of the parallel collective Orizzontale — explain their ethos to KoozArch.

There might be something about the Italian context that foments a radical and pragmatic optimism in selected minds of its youthful inhabitants. Formed as a loose group of architectural graduates, and influenced by radical Florentine practices like Superstudio, La Rivoluzione delle Seppie (LRDS) has grown into a multidisciplinary, galvanising and transformative force, radiating programmes of commoning and public engagement from their stronghold in Belmonte Calabro. From LRDS, Rita Elvira Adamo and Giuseppe Grant — also member of the parallel collective orizzontale — explain their ethos to KoozArch.

KOOZMaybe we can start from the name of your project, La Rivoluzione delle Seppie — literally meaning the The Revolution of the Squids — and the site of Casa di BelMondo in Belmonte Calabro, where you operate through an experiment of collaborative living and non-formal education. What is La Rivoluzione delle Seppie, and what do you do in Belmonte Calabro?

RITA ELVIRA ADAMO It may be helpful to point out three traits that characterise the work of La Rivoluzione delle Seppie, which may allow us to grasp its meaning and specificity. The first relates to combining a specific radical vision with an effort towards concrete, realisable action. A radical of the image of the future compels us to imagine new models of socio-cultural regulation and life frameworks; models that differ and depart from current modes, which indicate breaking with established circles of ways of living, working and the current sphere of public action. At the same time, this radicality of vision seeks to make room for itself with proposals that outline measured, tactically and concretely actionable efforts.

A second important aspect is that the actions carried out are a form of multifunctional planning, which aims to obtain multiple and diverse benefits through the same investment. Many of our activities carried out over the years have produced public assets — not only in the short term of the architectural interventions, but also in maximising their effectiveness in the long term. Our main objectives involve the renovation of an [abandoned] building or a space, which is already a departure from the traditional approach. In particular, our slogan, "Collaboration for public action", embraces and evidences how we act through all our research activities. A third characteristic of our work is that any such set of actions — developed by many hands, not only by professionals but also by academics, students, refugees, and locals — proposes to focus on a precise way of understanding non-formal education moments.

"By strengthening the connection between people and the places they inhabit, La Rivoluzione delle Seppie's work is based on a collaborative process through which the public sphere can be shaped to maximise shared value."

- Rita Elvira Adamo, co-founder of La Rivoluzione delle Seppie.

By strengthening the connection between people and the places they inhabit, La Rivoluzione delle Seppie's work is based on a collaborative process through which the public sphere can be shaped to maximise shared value. This process has generated a series of actions since 2016 that contribute to the development of cultural welfare and social well-being. The group’s work started in a small village in the south of Italy, Belmonte Calabro, and has progressively taken shape through the annual editions of Crossings — a series of residencies, symposia and workshops. This dynamic has generated a network of collaborators and constant moments of exchange between different actors for a common goal: the construction of BelMondo.1

Drawing by Ian Davide Bugarin, Luke Vouckelatou and Rachel Buckley.

KOOZ You search for ‘abandoned shells’, operating in those areas that you define as the ‘voids of physical and virtual territories’. How do you understand void in relation to territory? What is the weight of these dormant infrastructures on the Italian territory, as well as on our planetary ecosystem?

REA Our search for ‘abandoned shells’ is defined by our civil commitment and the idea of contributing to a possible collective rethinking of the territory; we are assuming an active role in the recomposition and reduction of social gaps and in the promotion of an effective social and cultural transition, as objectives of this exercise in a marginal and complex area like Calabria. A simultaneously imaginative and pragmatic practice rooted in expert knowledge and oriented towards a project with many actors in a fluid and hybrid process.

"Desires emerge reflexively only during and/or after the action and depend on relational, institutional and cultural conditions. Moreover, pragmatic action is always a hybrid action, which assembles the available material [...] without worrying too much about purity and coherence, but rather concerning the practical congruence and symbolic legitimacy of the solution for the contextual conditions."2

As Filippo Barbera and Tania Parisi describe in their book Social Innovators, our pragmatic and hybrid actions reflect contextual conditions; we often try to respond to a need, desire, or conflict of our communities, both local and temporary. A practical example might be seen in the work done during Crossings 2022, within the abandoned shell of the municipal fruit and vegetable market. This was an unfinished and unused public building, which we decided to give back temporarily to the community as a new square in Belmonte Marina, which is the newer area of the village, built after the 1960s. Such areas, typical in all touristic coastal villages like Belmonte, were constructed without urban planning; therefore, they are not often planned for communities or as places for community-based living.

"It was essential for us to go beyond the usual rhetoric description of the nostalgic small Italian village and explore more of this part of the territory with its conflicts, ugliness, stories and people. The market was a critical nexus, a shell that could collect those new understandings."

- Rita Elvira Adamo, co-founder of La Rivoluzione delle Seppie.

Again, as Filippo Barbera and Joselle Dagnes wrote in another publication, Belmonte Marina can be described as one place of “the Bruttaitalia” — a place for quotidien life, where tourists would not want to venture. This is where most of Belmonte's essential life takes place, as opposed to the old town (the borgo), where we are usually working and the Casa is situated. It was essential for us to go beyond the usual rhetoric description of the nostalgic small Italian village and explore more of this part of the territory with its conflicts, ugliness, stories and people. The market was a critical nexus, a shell that could collect those new understandings; Piazza Mercato became a new square for a new community we were creating around Belmonte or rather, as BelMondo.

Axonometry of Casa di BelMondo by orizzontale, 2021.

KOOZ orizzontale primarily works through the framework of the ‘domestic construction site’ or Cantiere Domestico, which is seen as an opportunity to establish a line of continuous communication between architects, collaborators, clients, and the local community — thus transforming the construction site into a daily event, in which the community can participate. What is the potential of reframing the construction site as a tool for communication and exchange, at the service of the environment and the community?

GIUSEPPE GRANT Orizzontale has been part of La Rivoluzione delle Seppie since Crossings 2017, the annual workshop/festival that later evolved into a Collaboration Pact with the municipality for the reactivation and care of Casa di BelMondo, the house where we base our activities. In 2019, we entered the Casa for the first time, with the aim of constructing the first three rooms on the first floor, marking the official start of the 'Cantiere Domestico' work model. From the beginning, our objective has been to transform a space as we inhabit it, drawing inspiration from nature as a new and growing hyper-collective.

"Our role as architects in this process is non-hierarchical; we mediate and guide a common vision or medium-to-long-term objectives. We are participants in the collective creation, so we must follow its course without interfering too much to disrupt it."

- Giuseppe Grant, member of orizzontale and La Rivoluzione delle Seppie.

As architects, we eschewed traditional executive drawings and instead embraced a collective creation model rooted in "conscious uncertainty," which thrives on constant experimentation analogous to the wheels of a bicycle: when turning at a certain speed, the bicycle remains stable and doesn't fall. This approach underscores our remarkable ability to react to spontaneous events, everyday phenomena and valuable, unexpected resources. The 'Cantiere Domestico' serves as social research as well as an aesthetic philosophy, mutually enriched by the common and extraordinary activities at Casa di BelMondo. The construction site is conceptualised as an incubator of ideas and an instrument of engagement, bridging distances between the local and global BelMondo community. The social dynamics within the house and the surrounding territory significantly influence the choice of material textures for the spaces under construction. Our role as architects in this process is non-hierarchical; we mediate and guide a common vision or medium-to-long-term objectives. We are participants in the collective creation, so we must follow its course without interfering too much to disrupt it.


KOOZFrom the site of the house, you have recently also expanded to working on the landscape, specifically through a process of mapping as initiated through the Herbarium project, displayed at the invitation of Fosbury within the context of Spaziale, Italy’s National pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in2023. Could you tell us more about this project and the value of these spaces as BelMondo ‘commons’?

GG The project for the Belmonte Calabro Castle Garden, "BelMondo Tracks," in collaboration with artist Bruno Zamborlin and presented within Spaziale, on the occasion of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale at the Italian Pavilion curated by Fosbury. Once again, we took this as an opportunity to focus on fundamental themes that still require attention, such as the valorisation of territorial heritage and the commons; the production of an "open system" of collaboration between local and global professionals, as well as old and new members of the La Rivoluzione delle Seppie network, which could assist the municipality given its significant lack of human resources. As its initial activity, LRDS attempted to establish an working group composed of all individuals and associations interested in managing the commons in Belmonte Calabro, including both material and intangible assets. This association of associations is named the "Glocal Center", to emphasise its diverse range of themes and interests. From its inception, the Glocal Center has had the mandate to mediate and make decisions with the municipality of Belmonte Calabro regarding all forthcoming public works that may impact the community, focusing on public space as a productive resource.

During the first Glocal Center meetings, discussions revolved around transforming a portion of the Belmonte Castle area — which had long been abandoned — into a botanical garden for the community. Various conversations took place regarding initial plans for the co-management of the site, which included cultural activities and both ordinary and extraordinary uses throughout the BelMondo Tracks residency, which was part of Spaziale; more than twenty people from around the world collaborated and lived together for two weeks. During this time, a snapshot of the garden's biodiversity was captured through the herbarium, a covered space was constructed for meetings and collective rituals, and the garden was made accessible for interim use until construction. As mentioned, the project served as a pretext for discussing the management of Belmonte Calabro’s public commons and the restoration of the castle garden as a space of collective interest.


KOOZ How do these approaches and methodologies formalise into the toolbox that you have come to define as Glocal Tools? How does this build upon the seminal publication “Global Tools: When Education Coincides with Life”?

REAOur approaches and methods are formalised firstly in the elaboration of a diverse model of living and working together, as opposed to competitive living and hyper-specialised work culture. The second mode is the exchange of knowledge of inhabiting a place temporarily but constantly, such that experimental, conceptual (but not ideological) forms can be manifested, testing different conceptions of participatory approaches towards public life. To achieve these objectives, a set of Glocal Tools have been developed: eight tools that characterise the operational approach of La Rivoluzione delle Seppie, derived precisely from the know-how accumulated so far, which define our shared values that can be adapted according to the opportunities and skills in a given socio-cultural and territorial context. Glocal Tools comprise transdisciplinary methods to overcome the boundaries of disciplines and to be horizontal in their application. They propose models ofself-construction as shared moments of realisation of collective places and as a critical vision of what the commons are; they suggest thereuse of resources, of obsolete or underused assets; they celebrate conviviality as a primordial tool of sharing between individuals — as well as active participation.

The Glocal Toolbox is fluid and free; it is a constant act of learning by doing, a methodology intrinsic to creating in a 'free' context where it is possible to test various solutions, moments of active and critical sharing on the future of places and non-places. They are the operational tools of LRDS, chosen from time to time according to the actions’ aims and specific needs for building the future of places on the margins. Thepublication Global Tools: When Education Coincides with Life was part of my research while studying architecture in London. When we defined the Glocal Tools during Crossings 2020, such attempts in the radical history of Florentine architects were often referenced during our brainstorming. However, we didn’t directly build up from this, but rather from the needs, desires and discomforts that our generation and society are living in — which, I believe, the radicals were in fact able to predict. As we know, the School for Global Tools never started; nonetheless, part of LRDS’s plan is to continue building up on such educational values; as we have stated, "a collective project in continuous transformation and verification: an enlarged educational moment that would have multiplied the experience, leaving open the developments and suggesting an alternative to traditional education without creating another model. It was conceived as a project that moved within an operative field free from formal programming, in which the results would have been acquired as an act of spontaneous communication".3

"Belmonte was our ground to grow, both professionally and personally. We are in transition, in setting up a non-traditional architectural approach as a hybrid form of research and practice."

- Rita Elvira Adamo, co-founder of La Rivoluzione delle Seppie.


KOOZ Although Belmonte Calabro is at the heart of the La Rivoluzione delle Seppie community, it is clearly not an isolated case within Italian territory. Could you maybe give us a sneak peek into other projects you are currently working on?

REA In an interview with Lesley Lokko, I read her explanation as to why she used the term practitioner instead of architect in the latest Biennale. As Lokko states, “We chose that term because we believe that Africa's dense and complex conditions and the rapidly hybridising world require a broader understanding of the term architect. Practitionerscome from the word praxis. I heard a person use it when I was about 20 years old, referring to his architecture-related activities: teaching, writing, building, and designing installations. I share this idea: there are many alternative ways to innovate the world, which is what architecture should do. Building opportunities for knowledge is as important as building buildings.”4

LRDS started as a group of architecture students wishing to experiment with architecture beyond academia, without a clear plan but rather following their needs. Belmonte was our ground to grow, both professionally and personally.

We are in transition, in setting up a non-traditional architectural approach as a hybrid form of research and practice. In this way, we are moving around new voids as practitioners in other places — such as Cosenza, thanks to a funding application we won for the reactivation of its old town, to be launched in March. We will be part of the public programme for Malta Biennale of Art in April, and who knows, for the summer… Cosenza is a whole world itself!

However, we will also be taking big steps at the Casa di BelMondo — now fully refurbished and serviced, in collaboration with Orizzontale and the municipality. This refurbishment allows the full inhabitation of the three floors, and, with the right resources, we aim to develop an informal educational programme addressing marginal areas, responding to Calabria's dense and complex conditions.


La Rivoluzione delle Seppie is an international, nomadic and digital network of creative practitioners, interested in exploring the boundaries of spatial and digital practice and education. The operational approach is defined by shared values and is adaptable in terms of opportunities and competences to the space where the action takes place. The coordination group of the BelMondo project is formed by the Le Seppie association and the Orizzontale collective. La Rivoluzione delle Seppie has long been committed to activating collaborative processes, understood as factors of connection between people and the places they live in. The aim has also been, through these processes, to raise awareness and shape the intervention of the public sphere in order to maximise shared value. In addition to promoting better urban design, the working group facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the cultural and social identities of the area. Belmonte Calabro represents, in many respects, a prototypical and replicable experience. BelMondo is the result of a community, local and temporary, which plays an effective role in the creation and characterisation of the places, inspirations and potential of a group of professional inhabitants, academics, students and asylum seekers. Since 2017, a multiplicity of actions have been taking place that contribute to the development of a cultural and social welfare. The annual editions of Crossings, constitute an interweaving of activities that have, in fact, generated a network of collaborators and constant moments of exchange between different actors for a common purpose: the construction of BelMondo.

Federica Zambeletti is the founder and managing director of KoozArch. She is an architect, researcher and digital curator whose interests lie at the intersection between art, architecture and regenerative practices. In 2015 Federica founded KoozArch with the ambition of creating a space where to research, explore and discuss architecture beyond the limits of its built form. Parallel to her work at KoozArch, Federica is Architect at the architecture studio UNA and researcher at the non-profit agency for change UNLESS where she is project manager of the research "Antarctic Resolution". Federica is an Architectural Association School of Architecture in London alumni.


Photos by Giulia Rosco, Nicola Barbuto, Antonio D'Agostino, Armando Perna.


1 [Eds] While Belmonte translates as beautiful mountain, and is sometimes used as the shorthand nomenclature for Belmonte Calabro, "BelMondo" in English suggests a good or beautiful world. BelMondo refers, then, to the operational headquarters of LRDS at Casa BelMondo, or more broadly to the vision of the Calabrian village community that LRDS is supporting and convening through its work.
2 Barbera, F. and Parisi, T., 2019. Innovatori sociali. Bologna: Il mulino.
3 Borgonuovo, V. and Franceschini, S., 2019. Global Tools 1973 -1975 (Quando l’educazione coinciderà con la vita). Rome: Nero.
4 'Lesley Lokko: sul futuro cambiamo il punto di vista', Giornale dell'Architettura, March 23, 2023. [online]

23 Feb 2024
Reading time
15 minutes
Related Articles by topic Re-use & Repair
Related Articles by topic Community