Vallecorsa is a small valley of the Monti Ausoni, north of Sperlonga. To design a campus for an agricultural cooperative in this setting may at first seem a somewhat sylvan proposition. Vallecorsa is an environment that has been strongly shaped by human interaction for centuries, full of traces of the repeated attempts to dwell in harmony with place through acts of artifice. Its present condition, however, is dire. The valley is symptomatic of many of the challenges faced by the Italian countryside as a whole: depopulation, disinvestment, land abandonment, hydrological changes, soil erosion, and desertification trends.
This thesis is a collective effort with the Cooperativa Agricola la Carboncella to imagine what an experimental rural campus for the organization may look like. It seeks to visualize the consequences of new practices and types of relations with a landscape in the midst of a transformation caused chiefly by abandonment. The valley’s stability for centuries depended on agricultural infrastructure and management practices that produced a unique cultural landscape. As many of these practices are suspended, and other are reinvented, what will be of this landscape and the people that inhabit it? What parts of its material and cultural heritage will be useful in reconstructing a way of life, and how will major losses affect people’s sense of place and identity?
The design of a campus for this cooperative, strongly invested in regional development, is an effort to try to answer some of these questions; where the pragmatic and the existential are inextricably linked.