“dpusummerLab: Rome Occupation City” was a week-long urban workshop focused on occupied spaces throughout the city of Rome. It took as main case study the occupation of Porto Fluviale, an abandoned military base which was occupied in 2003 by 80 (Italian, North African and South Americans) homeless families. An occupation that did not only provide a housing solution for these families but also an opportunity to explore the issues of cohabitation and connection to the rest of the city. This opportunity was grabbed by the dpusummerLab team, who investigated ways in which the Porto Fluviale residents could achieve a heightened sense of acceptance in the area while promoting a degree of public awareness through the “opening” of their inner courtyard as a “shared” space for the city.
One of my contributions during the workshop was aimed at overcoming the fortification image conveyed by the architecture of the building through working on its façade. Why not coloring the façade as a way to catch people’s attention and proudly share its inhabitants’ intercultural identity?
Preliminary visualization of Porto Fluviale’s façade: walls sublimating in rainbow colors with a “cut” alluding to an enlarged gate and an ever growing nature inside. The design was kept simple as it was initially thought of to be painted by the occupation’s inhabitants.
In 2013, the walls of Porto were actually covered with the colors of the rainbow by Blu, a famous Italian graffiti artist. The intervention, which took place without any official authorization, was completely self financed by the building’s residents, without any institutional support.
Mural by Blu: the façade is rendered porous; the windows become eyes through which to see and be seen. The building’s walls do not totally enclose or vanish, the building does not claim a new sovereignty or give in to the order. Spatial limits are lived as temporary, a threshold upon which freedom is played out (photo: fotografiaerrante).
*For a detailed account of the Porto Fluviale and the workshop, check: http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/dpu/programmes/summerlab/2012-series/rome/ROME_OCCUPATION_CITY.pdf
** For an account of Porto Fluviale’s evolution, check: http://articiviche.blogspot.com/2015/02/tano-blu-e-il-porto-fluviale.html (Italian text only).