Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
The advent of the pandemic has had a large impact on expectations about the way people live and work. The desire of many to live in situations of environmental health has stimulated proposals and actions aimed at revitalizing the life of Italian countryside villages (“borghi”). This article considers how architects and urban planners can help reverse the escape from borghi to cities, for a migration in the opposite direction, from cities to borghi. The analysis evaluates the opportunities given by smart working and distance learning, the forms of mobility such as the restoration of local railways and car-sharing policies, the restoration of abandoned buildings for new uses such as co-working spaces and “alberghi diffusi” (widespread hotels). Economic incentives to stimulate local agricultural products and artisan traditions are also considered. As an example, the article reports studies by the authors aimed at urban development interventions for historic villages based on the application of the “analog method,” that is design proposals inspired by the architectural qualities of existing borghi reinterpreted in forms and building technologies of a contemporary character.