7 September 2015
E.Colonia: Makers and craftsmen to repopulate ghost village Carbonara, Italy
Project E.Colonia started last June, and it aims to turn the abandoned village into an international creative district that will welcome makers and new craftsmen.
Village Carbonara is part of Aquilonia, a small center hit by the violent earthquake that in 1930 destroyed villages all over the mountainous areas between regions Campania and Basilicata, Southern Italy.
The village was rebuilt on a higher spot and was completely abandoned after World War II. Since then, Carbonara has never perked up and has kept losing its local knowledge and economy over time. Walking today in its center is like looking at a picture shot 65 years ago.
E.Colonia was born in this context from the mind of +tstudio, architectural and engineering practice based in Aquilonia. The ultimate idea is to make the village habitable again, and to turn it into an international creative district that will welcome makers and new craftsmen.
Makers’ ateliers for the rebirth of the new village
The recovery plan aims to develop a residential and productive model able to connect technological innovation and local resources – tangible and intangible ones – through the return to methods of socioeconomic cooperation. Three actions constitute the skeleton of the project: I re-inhabit – I learn – I produce.
• ‘I re-inhabit’ is the action concerning the material city. New residential modules will be literally embedded in the crumbling buildings in a way that also improves their seismic behavior. The new modules will be lowered or built in the ruins and are designed to be energetically self-sustainable.
• ‘I learn’ contemplates the welcome for makers and craftsmen to establish their ateliers in the revived constructions. They will be in contact with and learn about local arts and crafts and will be able to translate that tradition into contemporary digital production systems.
• ‘I produce’ consists of the realization of an educational and productive artisan district able to compete with the national and international design landscape. An actual ‘academy of rural design’ will be realized. Craftsmen’s laboratories will become classes, while craftsmen will be the teachers.
At the bottom of the whole project, there’s not only the recovery of abandoned areas, but also of human resources and cultural heritage that usually remain non-contemplated.
Building relations between makers and local craftsmen
E.Colonia started its activities last June with the workshop‘Traduzioni’ (Translations), which attracted 50 makers from 20 to 62 years old from all over Italy.
Chair-menders, blacksmiths, potters, tailors, weavers, carpenters, and tinsmiths offered makers and artists their knowledge and their laboratories.
Attendees got to know the territory to be then immersed in the creative phase of design and experimentation.
In the local laboratories, the prototyping process was conducted together with the artisans involved in the project.
Realized products will be part of the first E.Colonia’s rural design catalogue, which should help start a small production in the short run.
For E.Colonia, design represents the opportunity to bridge the gap between our society and an ancient world that seems isolated and far from the contemporary cultural and economic dynamics.
The meeting and merger of old crafts and new technologies find in E.Colonia an actual application as a revitalizing strategy that doesn’t focus on results, but on the existing reality.
A lively awareness is growing about the relations between new and old as a means to spark virtuous circles.
Traditional arts and crafts need to be reinterpreted, in order not to be lost. But – paraphrasing Newton – if makers and digital craftsmen see further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.