In this workshop students of the Technical University of Madrid and University of Basilicata, together with their teachers and leading figures of European architecture in recent years will meet to study, discuss and design what could become the new gate for the city of Matera. Regeneration, green spaces, new infrastructures, will be some of the topics addressed during these days. Conferences, seminars and excursions through the city and the territory will be proposed to discover the architecture that characterizes this unique place.
Matera has suffered a problem of public civil infrastructure administration, resulting in a frustrated project to connect the city by train with the rest of the country. Right now the works are near to be accomplished and maybe the finantial aid of the European City of Culture will help in order to achieve these objectives. The workshop will reflect about what does public infrastructure mean and how can we reuse the existing one.
The teachers coming from Spain will be Alberto Campo Baeza, professor Alejandro Vírseda (author of Nave 16 refurbishment, among other projects), professor José Jaraíz and professor Jesús Donaire (secretary of the BigMat International Architecture Award).
Matera was elected as European City of Culture 2019 over Siena, Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia and Ravenna, which were the other finalists. In regard to digital involvement, Matera was the benchmark for the other Italian candidate cities with its great website and busy interaction on every possible social media channel from day one of the competition. But what must have been most important to the jury, Matera put together a soundproof bid book called ‘Open Future/Open City’, which has already started to infuse the people of the Basilicata (once mainly known as Italy’s poorest region) with a new, open-minded and positive attitude to their future. The book is available here.
The city looks willing to fully open itself towards Europe through radical innovation, which is not just a promise but is based on having been socialized during the last years through pilot projects and real partnerships (Living on the Edge, unMonastery, Coderdojo). At the same time, Matera is “smart” enough to acknowledge the role of technology in approaching a cultural future. Over the past years it became an open data leader in Southern Italy and through ECOC it has committed to digitalize all cultural archives, releasing them under creative commons licenses, therefore moving ahead as a cultural platform for Europe’s whole South. The fact that these are mostly driven by grassroots citizenship really makes one believe in its proposal for a horizontal, true participatory culture.
Matera is an Italian town of about 60,000 inhabitants, the capital of the province and the second largest city in Basilicata. It is known as “City I Sassi” (City of Stone) for the historic Sassi (ancient cave dwellings), which constitute one of the world’s oldest inhabited areas after Aleppo and Jericho.
The Sassi of Matera are the historic center of the city of Matera. II Sasso “Caveoso” and Sasso “Barisano” along with the “Civita” neighborhood, form a complex urban center. “I Sassi” are about 3,000 homes, of which more than a half are “troglodyte” which is carved entirely out of the rock. Over 18,000 people live there.
The Sassi of Matera were inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1993. They were the first listed site in southern Italy. Registration was motivated by the fact that they represent the extraordinary, capable of perpetuating the most distant prehistoric past ways of inhabiting the caves to modern times urban ecosystem. The Sassi of Matera are an excellent example of careful use in time of natural resources: water, land, energy.
From the ‘50s onwards Matera has been an important place for experimentation and innovation. It has attracted great filmmakers and artists, and it has been a fertile ground for successful collaboration between locals and those from outside the community. Matera has made great efforts in becoming the first city in the South of Italy to be included as a World Heritage site; once an unacknowledged city, it is now one of the most outstanding cities of art to visit; although Matera is a city which has implemented a number of important regeneration schemes, as yet it has not exploited its enormous cultural potential to the full.