Prato|Town - Urban Synesthesiae
Urban Copyleft is an operative cluster - composed of architects (Lorenzo Perri, Sabrina Morreale), cultural researchers (Andrea Del Bono, Rita Duina) and photographers (Agnese Morganti) - that explores new systemic approaches to urban care in the context of multiethnic cities.
We investigate spontaneous yet ritualistic forms of inhabitation and their physical effects on these cities – challenging how they trigger a contemporary sense of belonging.
More than 100 ethnicities are estimated to live in the city of Prato, which extends eastwards into the metropolitan area of Tuscany’s capital city Florence. Located in the immediate western outskirts of Prato’s medieval city centre, Macrolotto Zero is a neighbourhood encapsulating much of the city’s debated cultural dynamism, but also representing a concrete metaphor of how cultural diversity has been struggling to find a rightful recognition as a positive aspect of global interconnectedness and urban contemporaneity. Targeted by a considerable number of successive Chinese diasporic waves of migration since the early 1990s, the neighbourhood has been the backdrop to street festivals, public art interventions, and visits by groups of students interested in migration studies. Our interests converge in this space as dissatisfaction with both the material and immaterial representations of a caricature ethnicity that often accompany the discursive framing of the neighbourhood in the public debate. Hence, our proposal to use research in architecture to trigger a branding process of the neighbourhood beyond a representation of its supposed cultural identity, but more attuned to engaging with the complexities of creating a ‘platform for the patterning of activity, a mode of organising activities in time and space’. With our work, we intend to problematize ethnicized representations of the neighborhood and all those simplistic, monodimensional ways to narrate urban spaces, starting from Prato and Macrolotto Zero. We propose a self-reflexive, multi-linguistic, theoretically informed, digitally mediated, operative approach which takes the shape of a digital platform able to foster critical debate and engage with as many players as possible in exploring the possibilities for the re-semantization and the inclusion of different perceptions of this intersection between public, domestic and productive spaces.