An inhabitant is one who is accustomed to a place, occupying a space with their physicality, being and experience. “To live is to leave traces,” wrote Walter Benjamin in Paris, Capital of the 19th century.
So, between 8 and 11 November, more than 200 children and young people, from the ages of 5 to 25, from the schools of Loreto Aprutino (PE) and Città sant’Angelo (PE), as well as a group of students from the Department of Architecture in Pescara and their teachers, lived in Yona Friedmann’s La Cité des Réfugiés—a refuge for anyone in need. A city consisting of reconfigurable housing modules.
The traces the young people decided to leave behind are traces of their living experience: simulacra of furniture, images of architectural elements drawn to scale to activate the spaces of Yona Friedman’s La Cité des Réfugiés. This represents an action that sought to reinterpret Friedman’s intentions, according to which architecture should be mobile and adaptable to the uses of those who live in it.
This experience has a double value—not only aesthetic, but also architectural—consisting of a corporeal experience within the space of No Man’s Land. This is a work about the measure of things, resulting from a path of awareness of architectural space in order to acquire readiness of one’s own home in everyday environments.
And the architectural experience is also a sound experience: space produces sound, human actions produce sound. “The sound measures space and makes its scale comprehensible. We stroke the boundaries of the space with our ears,” writes Juhani Pallasmaa in The Eyes of the Skin. This is why, in addition to the images, the children were involved in a field recording of the living action.
In addition to images and sounds, there were theoretical reflections on living and the city. These consisted of the actions of students from the Department of Architecture with the panels designed by the younger students acting as a backdrop.
This is how Yona Friedman wrote about No Man’s Land in 2017: “This is what I am trying to propose, an operation of democratising the imagination. I think of No Man’s Land as a land of the imagination, open to everyone.” And No Man’s Land is a land for everyone capable of catalysing the energy and imagination of many.
images: (cover 1-3) Abitare No Man’s Land. The students of the Urban Design_B course of Prof. A. Clemente together with Prof. F. Bilò, M. Pieroni and D. Stiefelmeier read selected passages from the writings of writers, poets and architects on the city, in Yona Friedmann’s La Cité des Réfugiés inhabited by the younger students’ works. Photo by Gino Di Paolo (2) Abitare No Man’s Land. Students design and create the scenic panels with which to experience Yona Friedmann’s La Cité des Réfugiés: images of objects from their daily living experience donated to No Man’s Land. Photo by Gino Di Paolo (4) Abitare No Man’s Land. The installed stage panels. Photo by Gino Di Paolo