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Dialogue Attempts - Tentativi di Dialogo

Studio Piraccini

Rebuilding a sense of place.


The short film introduces the redevelopment project of an abandoned mining village where the intervention aimed to rebuild a crumbling sense of place.

Formignano is a small settlement situated on a large sulfur parchment area near Cesena in Central Italy. Works of sulfur extraction had been carried out here since Roman Times. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, however, conditions changed; competition with similar Sicilian industry, and eventually with American ones, implicated the mines' closing. A mass emigration followed and the village was left almost abandoned. After years of improper maintenance, the buildings were damaged, public spaces became neglected, and the area suffered hydro-electric instability.

Since 1990, the municipality of Cesena has had a project agreement with a private company to put aside funding for local redevelopment. It provides a small sum for every kilogram of stockpiled material in a nearby landfill. The objective, along with repopulation, was to raise awareness of a cultural-historic village whose qualities are undermined by conventional ideas of heritage.

The project augments the district with a system of squares and public spaces. They provide an architectural identity with a strong relationship to the history of the sulfur mine. The urban settlement's limits and the new public space are defined by a retaining wall of Cor-ten steel recalling industrial settlements. A cylindrical, furnace-like structure stands aside the wall acting as a belvedere, giving citizens a vista of the mining area below.

The inception of this film was a passion between the actors, Ettore Nicoletti and Marcantonio Malerba, and the architect. They all share a cultural connection working in the field of theatrical improvisation. This chemistry is apparent in the two metaphorical protagonists; the crocodile represents the landscape while the kangaroo represents the architect. The two try to converse and interact, but the complexity of rebuilding a lost sense of place becomes an obstacle. Just as the architect was faced with the difficulty of initiating dialogue with the landscape, the characters too have trouble communicating. In the end, after several failed attempts, they manage to find a tacit agreement.

(Story by Paola Ricco, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Authors: Stefano Piraccini, Ettore Nicoletti, Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba
Architect: Studio Piraccini
Mentioned project: Architectural recovery of Formignano: a mining village (2003-2011)
Project location: Formignano, Cesena, Italy

Italy 2012
Duration: 1'59''