Le Seppie
Spatial agents
Amantea, Belmonte Calabro; IT

La Rivoluzione Delle Seppie is a non-profit cultural association. A project that initially started as an informal gathering of four students, it has grown today and through research, design, technologies and teaching, Le Seppie aim to better the cultural fabric of the community, to promote social integration and the development of Amantea, Belmonte Calabro and the surrounding areas.

 

Paving the way for Crossings 2017

Le Seppie started informally as a group of four architecture students at the London Metropolitan University. We wanted to go beyond the formal architecture academic education so we took a group of students and tutors from LMU to Calabria to experiment with hands-on projects in real contexts. Two of those tutors who came to Calabria, had a strong belief in these experiments and way of teaching, leading them to propose a postgraduate and undergraduate unit in the architecture faculty of LMU. This gave us the support to continue working on it, especially owing to the human resources and critical mass provided by the students who applied in large numbers every year to the unit. Thanks to their research time in Calabria, we were able to actively and consistently engage with the local community. We started to open up to other stakeholders, in particular thanks to regional funding won in 2017 which helped us to organise Crossings 2017, our main project.

 

Bringing stakeholders on board the project

We are not a typical architectural practice and our work is a sort of research program in which we test ideas on a small/medium scale and, since we started, we have focused mainly on one "client", the Belmonte Calabro community. We work more as "spatial agents" who mediate between the various stakeholders in the project. For example, a nice story is how we earned the trust of the Belmonte Mayor and the local community. At the beginning they were suspicious and they were not involved in the project processes, but through our persistent approach, positive attitude and hard work we managed to make them understand our aim to improve and facilitate the social and cultural tissue of their village with their collective engagement.

 

Finding stability remotely

We don't have a routine. All of the Le Seppie members live in different parts of the world and we also all have other jobs. Only one of our co-founders, Rita, lives between Amantea, the main village of the area, located next to Belmonte, and London, and she is doing a Phd based on the work and themes explored by Le Seppie.

As a group, we work remotely and collaborate everytime we have a specific project to produce. Depending on the type of project, we work by using skype and/or emails and sometimes we all meet in Belmonte for short periods. However we are trying to become more stable and find options where at least two people can work full time on the projects.

 

Key players and a digital workspace

Our workspace exists in the digital realm. Depending on the projects we have different organisations and hierarchies. In general, Rita as the full time person engaged and the only one of us currently living in Belmonte, is usually the director who manages both the different professionals and students involved and mediates between the external stakeholders and the territory. Another key person who has been part of our organisation since the beginning is Matteo, a co-founder and graphic designer. He is always involved in the projects and he helps to coordinate the visual identity and communication strategy of Le Seppie. Other important key people are Francesca, digital strategist and communication responsable. Nicola, Francesca e Silvia, videomakers and photographers and Jon, architect.

 

Reality exceeding the initial expectations

The reality, strangely enough, is better than we expected mainly because we didn’t have any expectations or a long term plan. In fact we started as a sort of game to test some ideas and interests we had as students and by experimenting and testing on site we discovered there were bigger issues such as the phenomena of depopulated villages and migration flows. Thanks to the possibility of enlarging our networks, we found support from various local and International stakeholders and collaborators and this allowed us to grow and gain experience in this field and get recognition from various institutions and different professionals.

 

Next phases of renovation 

Our latest and biggest project is the renovation of a former Nunnery, owned by Belmonte Municipality. We made a deal in May 2018 with the Municipality: we look after that public building in return for using it as a “Home” for the temporary community of professionals, students, academics and migrants involved in the project who come back more and more often to Belmonte. The aim is to transform this abandoned building into a cultural hub for the marginal and rural territories in this region. The architectural project was developed together with the collective “Orizzontale”, the local cultural association “Ex Convento” and the support of international students and migrants. Already we have built the floors of three rooms on the first floor and installed an electrical system. The approach we are using is to renovate it in stages, partly due to our limited funds but also in order to keep up our link with the local community by being present regularly in the village. Our planned next step is to build a kitchen for the building in order to make it more functional. It will be built in February 2020, again with a participatory approach, and by collaborating with different stakeholders. in particular second year students of LMU who are coming  to Belmonte for doing a technology module, “learning by building”, which is part of their academic curriculum.

IMG 1889 Rita Adamo

Photography Courtesy of Le Seppie

Casa di Belmondo 1 Armando Perna Photographer Rita Adamo

Casa di Belmondo 2 Armando Perna Photographer Rita Adamo

Casa di Belmondo 3 Armando Perna Photographer Rita Adamo

Photography Armando Perna






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