Treviso, Italy (August 13, 2019) –Morgan State University, School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) summer 2019 “Global Design in Local Italy,” is an elective that offers students the opportunity to experience the phenomenon of global citizenship and brainstorm how design can contribute in creating more “just” spaces and communities.
This elective was launched for the first time this summer in Treviso, a town in northeast Italy, vibrant with immigrants striving to integrate into the local community. Europe is changing under the impact of heavy migration. Italy is at the border and receives thousands of newcomers every year. In collaboration with a local non-profit organization (the Parish of San Floriano in S. Biagio), whose mission is to facilitate cultural assimilation, SA+P students were tasked with designing and building a small-scale temporary installation addressing global integration.
The students received a lecture from Simone Sfriso, co-founder of architecture firm TAMassociati. Students also visited local architecture office (C+S associati), the Carlo Scarpa Archive, and the Fabrica research center, where students learned about philanthropy and met the talented people on scholarship to research there.
MICA Architectural Design students joined the SA+P students in Treviso for two weeks to work on city mapping and quick experiential exercises. Students visited sites together and supported each other’s project reviews.
SA+P students familiarized themselves with the surroundings of Treviso and initiated a conversation about place and inhabitation. They discussed questions such as “How do citizens use spaces?” “Do these spaces respond to the citizens’ needs?” and “Who are the citizens using the spaces and how do they interact with one another?”
Students spent much of their time getting to know immigrants in Treviso. Most came from Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. They moved here to build something for themselves and their journey was not without obstacles. Some spoke Italian, most did not. Few had jobs—they needed legal documentation to be recognized and make a living.
After meeting with the immigrants for a few sessions, students began working on a design process and community engagement for the temporary installation. Time was tight and the project was challenging. The team was not able to speak with the mayor or introduce the project to the city in a formal way. Since any use of public space for private initiatives is forbidden in Italy without permission, design ideas steered toward a discreet intervention that could remain within acceptable parameters.
While brainstorming, the team came up with the idea of sports as a binding agent for diversity. The final vote went to a soccer match to bring everyone together in a friendly competition. “Tutti Giocano” (Everyone Plays) became a series of five play areas stretching along a two-mile route from the train station to the Giardini Park. Color t-shirts and short performances along a curated route had characterized this motion-installation.
The message was how easy it is to unify people across different backgrounds. The design team aimed for a short moment of awareness with the potential for a large impact on the minds of residents. New social spaces had been created where fun happened!
Cristina Cassandra Murphy (Professor in-charge) and Carla Brisotto in collaboration with:
Special thanks to:
This would have not been possible without the amazing support and participation of:
(Austin) Abibu Kebiru Abdul Razak
… and all our immigrants friends
Release courtesy Cristina Murphy, Morgan State University School of Architecture + Planning