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The spectacularization of dismission

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The spectacularization of dismission

Dismission / "Condition that follows abandon, with loss of function. In architecture, dismantling is primarily related to the evolution of the industrial process of cities. (...) Disposal is not simply linked to the cessation or transfer of certain productive activities, but also to the adjustment of services (hospitals, slaughterhouses, barracks) and infrastructures (...) ".

The dismission's landscape is nowadays a fundamental part of the urban whole. It represents a precious resource with a huge potential of transformation in order to achieve a total regeneration of the contemporary city.
The debate, focused until the 1980's on the dismantling of historical centres, has now shifted to the periphery, the prevalent physical reality of the whole city, characterized by empty urban areas, once a place of industrial production sites, around which entire working communities turned.
The former "Mauser & Cia Ltda" of Sao Paulo, Brazil, represents, today, the archetype of industrial archeology, as the phenomenon of decommissioning that often declass the site in a non-site within the periphery. As claimed in various publications, the identity of the inhabited community has always been reflected in the reality of the former metal barrel industry, the closure of which caused a social and urban wound solved by the exemplary intervention by the architect Lina Bo Bardi.
The social attractor known today as SESC Pompeia, realized by the so-called "Serviçio Social do Commercio", is a non-profit promoter of regenerative projects, based on the creation of structures that ensure sports and cultural activities for the less wealthy.
At industrial dismantling, there is a consequent unavoidable tissue laceration, both urban and social, to be spotted through punctual interventions, subordinate to strategies of regeneration of the extreme suburbs, without neglecting, - thinking of immense inherited assets made up of former slaughterhouses, stairs railroads, nineteenth-century hospitals, former psychiatric hospitals and prisons and former barracks - ancient nucleuses and historic urban rings, adhering to the compact city.
In an economic contingency in which the great works belonging to the mantra "soil consumption 0" are struggling to implement despite the making of new forms and legal figures such as Urban Transformation Companies, these containers are certainly the main attractors of the public and private interest , even speculative, on which to experiment the "build the built" according to the technique of densification.  
Compared to this philosophy, in which the localization is strongly discriminating respect to the whole of urban area, discontinuous areas can be provided to the simple completion of the fabric through the prevailing function of Social Housing or, supported by the role, often present, of historical pre-existence to be retained and rethought, can aspire to become urban centers understood as social capacitors.
One of the invariants that the super-places of centrality, born of this kind of regenerative strategies share, is that the component of spectacularization is guaranteed by the chosen settlement functions. The latter, in a directly proportional way, is reflected in the aesthetic appearance of the containers that in certain ways we define "talking ducks". Whether it is interventions based on thrust conservation, as in the case of monuments emphasizing seemingly dead landscapes and memories, which hesitate to the happy descending (Park Dora in Turin, on the tracks of the Ruhr in Germany), rather than regenerative interventions based on poly functionality having a urban and extra-urban role, the goal is still the creation of places of the "loisir", oriented to the leisure and the psycho-physical entertainment of the person, in which to dare to be lazy in the Barthes's meaning.
It derives "golden towers on golden peripheries" (R. Koolhaas, 2015) where the show of content happens between a vernissage or any kind of amusing entertainment and the other. The sophisticated spectacularization of the dismission can be seen from the interdisciplinarity of the urban design team, often composed by heterogeneous figures: architects, directors, choreographers, musicians, science luminaries, called to create "total theaters" with a strong sense of dream (cultural centers and polyphonic workshops), music (poly functional auditorium), eno-gastronomic ("showcases" in the shape of a decanter), research and training ( centers of research and technological poles obtained from dismissed manufactures or paraboloids).
The new architecture derived from the reclamation activity comes to the landscaping scene, like the circus of the movie "Wings of desire” directed by Wim Wenders. 
It interprets the role of an ephemeral architecture that is overwhelmingly and surprisingly irony in a decadent area of the city of Berlin divided by the wall, welcoming within it a playful dimension in which a sort of "second life"  takes place in relation to the external reality. The circus becomes the icon of a temporary metamorphosis transformed into an architectural-decorative element, to mention an example of recent urban transformation by Smiljan Radic in his NAVE-Arts Hall in Santiago del Cile, creative-residential center derived from the upgrading of a peripheral outlying urban block. In the manner of the film mentioned, the NAVE's "roof circus" appears to the spectator, lost in the periphery, as a catalyst for suddenly smiling eyes, able to animate the urban scene.
The spectacularization of the dismantling, coming from the architectural scale and passing to the urban one, becomes a systematic widespread phenomenon, convertible into a real itinerary for a type of specialized tourism interested in spending an Easter Sunday in Milan between Prada Foundation and the Mudec museum or, why not, in the Roman's Maxxi museum, still surrounded by dismantling.
This is the critical framework in which the selected contributions fit. The number is characterized by the heterogeneity of the authors disciplinary profiles. The desired choice allowed the topic to be expressed in the title, according to different reading keys, specific to some of the subjects involved in the integrated action of urban regeneration.

Olindo Caso, Assistent Professor at the Department of Architectur of TU Delft University, Holland, investigates the current rampant trend consisting in the regeneration of former disused industrial areas according to a sought-after "mixité" character made of culture, temporality, ephemeral, flexibility. The preliminary mapping of phenomena under way in the transformation of the city in crisis, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Copenhagen, brings out the role of the local community in triggering a process of value in the institutional absence of planning that is no longer able to promote it and handle it. 

Francesco Gastaldi, Associate Professor of Urban Planning at IUAV University in Venice, along with Federico Camerin, tackles the topic through the non-sites of large ex-demanial areas such as ex-military areas. This patrimony is the object of an "institutional spectacle" made of political proclamations about reconversion, that has never been implemented, and still lies in the political rooms.

Vittorio Longheu, contract professor in Architectural and Urban Composition at the Politecnico in Milan, Mantua's territorial office, as well as an architect who is attentive to the form and detail, brings as an example Smijlian Radic's NAVE-Arts Hall, in Santiago del Cile, center focusing on that "roof circus", which characterizes the public space of a great creativity machine that regenerates urban and social fabric.

Gabriele Manella, associate professor of sociology at the University of Bologna, analyzes the form of spectacularization adopted by the marketing strategies for communicating the desired image hypothetically deriving from the transformations of a part of Bolognina district in Bologna. As evidenced by field surveys, this operation has not been transformed into a real perception, much less perceived by the social fabric, thus constituting a case of "retraining evidence" and partially failed.

Nicola Marzot, associate professor at the Department of Architecture of Ferrara's university and professional in urban regeneration, starting from Guy Debord's "Society of Entertainment" essay, analyzes the inverse phenomenon of the "show of society" based on claims of the landfill site to experiment with urban regeneration strategies even only temporarily, if the financial conditions for real structural plans are not available.

Lastly, my article gives a look at the new Prada Foundation, designed by the archistar Rem Koolhaas, and analyses the stars that cooperated at the realization of a "colossal architectural" under the aegis of huge private capitals, beginning of a possible Milan's southern suburb regeneration.

Have a nice reading and...
let me wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


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