Authors : Cristina Baroncini, Lucia Nadalin and Giulia Pozzi

University : Università DI Ferrara

Status : BArch, 2012

Title : A·live | Agricultural Landscapes to Increase the Value of Environment

Architecture can not ignore the reality around it. Especially today, it is called to deal with a society in crisis: economic crisis, cultural crisis, but also crisis of the city, the place where the community interacts with the landscape.

Like a cellular organism, the urban landscape changes to adapt to environmental conditions, pursuing specific evolutionary phenomena.

Urban fragments are interspersed with rural areas, which nowadays are interstitial.  We are talking about the so-called peri-urban spaces: they are areas without specific functions, liable for speculative interests, always risking to be transformed in a brown field shortly. Now that urban sprawl has overruled territory, linking its expansion to its own fading in the countryside, undeveloped areas must be protected, not only for their intrinsic value, but also for their shortage. Being scarce goods, they should gain an appropriate economic value and be subject to re-evaluation by the whole community. No longer seen as the last link in the urban continuity, they should now be considered a real asset in environmental and social terms.

Territory enhancement has a pivotal role in this research, whose field of action is the redefinition of the historical dichotomy between rural and urban areas. In this context agriculture plays a fundamental role: from its marginal position it should acquire a structural function. Intended as a tool to regenerate the land, it could produce local quality, and provide new food awareness. Agriculture, in fact, may encourage the emergence of a new territory, allowing interaction between environmental, settlement and social systems. Through these processes, the territory can return to be a “common good”, respected, valued and protected.

The aim of this research is to define possible scenarios and pioneering actions to promote a new rurality, through a physical infrastructure that has its roots in the urban fabric, made of ground, signs and public space. But above all, it can act as a support to social infrastructure, a network of people who, with a conscious anthropic action, can provide a local added value.
This thesis aims to investigate the peri-urban areas in the territory next to the ring road, north of Bologna. The marginalization of this area, due to the large presence of infrastructure, to the city’s proximity and to the wide variety of functions established, gives it great potential. The fragmented and fallow agricultural lands could find a new productivity and thereby trigger a series of relationships with the city in terms of asset value. The countryside is no longer seen as the negative of the urban areas, but becomes an interactive platform to create a network, which supports the city. In this way, a mutual relationship is established: the countryside produces for the city and the latter, in turn, takes care of it.