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Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-09192019-233840

Thesis type
Tesi di laurea magistrale LM5
Thesis title
From Temporariness to Permanence. The case of "Borgo di Arquata" after the 2016 central Italy earthquake
Course of study
relatore Prof. Cutini, Valerio
correlatore Prof.ssa Bleil de Souza, Clarice
correlatore Dott. Rusci, Simone
correlatore Ing. Pezzica, Camilla
controrelatore Prof. Fusco, Giovanni
  • Space Syntax
  • central Italy
  • earthquake
  • temporary housing
  • urban design
Graduation session start date
Release date
The housing emergency resulting from earthquakes, or other natural disasters, generally finds an initial response in temporary structures, usually inadequate to implement an acceptable living quality. Waiting for the reconstruction, the post-disaster residential poles – which could be compared to an act of urban expansion in the form of temporary architectures – materialize the paradox linked to the immobility of a temporary situation, as they are permanent in facts. Indeed, their physical constitution and their extension, as well as the costs of carrying them out, make their future demolition quite unlikely, at least for some decades – as the chronicles of disastrous events show –, generating realities with a vacillating identity.
Although the resulting housing disadvantage is enormous, the current management policies in the field of post-disaster emergency do not seem to have dealt with this transitional phase – from post-emergency to a restored situation – in an organic way.
The 2016 earthquake in Central Italy was the most recent Italian seismic crisis, in terms of several number of strokes and aftershocks, which happened between August to October 2016 with earthquakes occurred also in January 2017 and in April 2018. The crisis affected 138 Municipalities from 4 Regions (Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria) for a total area of 8000 km2 and approximately 600,000 people involved (with 299 deaths, 365 wounded and 49,844 displaced).
The immediately post-disaster shelters for displaced were tents and, as winter solutions, containers, usually set in camps very close to the destroyed towns. However, they had to be replaced, in about seven months, with medium-term solutions, the so-called S.A.E. (Housing Emergency Solutions), according to the Framework Agreement of 25 May 2016 between the Civil Protection Department and private construction companies.
The absence of long-term solutions resulted in people having to live in the S.A.E. settlements near the affected areas until the reconstruction of the old towns will be completed, which means displaced people, predominantly elderly, living in poor social, spatial and environmental quality conditions.
The design proposal from this thesis would improve this people situation by adding value and quality to the so-called “spaces in between”, the outdoor empty spaces in which the community’s everyday life should take place. The objective is to give back the home-feeling that people have when they are, sit, walk into the streets, plazas, pockets of their own towns in order to create a proper urban system.
The specific context for this kind of project is the Municipality of Arquata del Tronto (Province of Ascoli Piceno, in Marche Region) and its so-called Borgo1 S.A.E.’s settlement, the biggest among the 7 temporary camps built and the closest to the destroyed historical centre of Arquata: the main objective is to propose an informed design that would improve the current situation of the outdoor space in terms of user comfort, way-finding, accessibility, sociability, etc., enhancing the purely residential environment, currently lacking meeting places, through the recovery of an abandoned area subject to demolition. The architectural operation does not aim to restore an existing function nor is it comparable to what has been lost: it acts as a filter between present and past, as an interface for exchanging between absence and new presence, between memory and future.

The present thesis is articulated in 3 parts:
(i) The first one (INTRODUCTION: Chapter 1-3) introduces the reader to the phenomenon of the temporary housing practice in case of emergency, then it focuses on the management of the most serious earthquakes that have struck Italy from 1900 to today, noting that the emergency structures adopted remain in place for an average time of 30 years. Lastly a framework of knowledge (updated at the present time) of the most recent earthquake, the 2016 one in Central Italy, is presented.
(ii) In the second part (APPROACH TO ANALYSIS: Chapter 4-5), configurational analyses based on Space Syntax methodology, performed on the 2016 crater area, were illustrated: the measure of the inter-relationships between areas and across scales (from supra-Regional to neighbourhood, through the Municipal one) allowed to read the internal geography of territory and to make diachronic analyses of the urban transformations inflicted by the disaster.
Among the four cases study analysed (Norcia, Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto), the Municipality of Arquata is assumed as project theme because the Borgo1 S.A.E. settlement configures itself as a newly built centre, substitute for the historical one, even in an hypothetical as-and-where-it-was reconstructed configuration: indeed, its principal inner road is the most integrated axis of the area and the nearby large esplanade, resulting from a post-earthquake demolition, represents a good project opportunity for its strategic position, between the historic nucleus of the town and the new temporary settlement, along the access route to the latter.
(iii) The third part (APPROACH TO DESIGN: Chapter 6-7) focuses on the design proposal – based on the theoretical framework of Space Syntax and Public Life Studies –, firstly illustrating the guidelines of intervention and after describing the so-called “pilot project” with its key design elements. Starting from the necessities of Arquata del Tronto Municipality and some of its inhabitants, collected in a survey, together with the results of the configurational analyses, the strategy for intervention is given in three different time phases, each of them concerning specific objectives: the focus initially is on services and mobility, in order to empower the local transport and to promote the tourism, then the intervention concerns about the social and professional life of people (i.e. the pilot project), proposing an open space (a square) for the community, bordered by a mixed-use building and lastly, some opportunities for the S.A.E. area, after the reconstruction’s completion, are briefly spotted.