Nicolás Delgado Álcega

MArch II

Vallecorsa: New Prospects for Ruined Territories

Advised by Jorge Silvetti

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.

Nicolás Delgado Álcega, MArch II. Topographic map with line drawings superimposed.
Nicolás Delgado Alcega, MArch II. Spreads from a research book on the historic, social and environmental conditions of Vallecorsa and the Italian countryside more broadly.
Nicolás Delgado Alcega, MArch II. A land use map of Vallecorsa shows the holistic land management strategy used for centuries across its transect.
Nicolás Delgado Alcega, MArch II. Photogrammetric scans of the basic typological elements of Vallecorsa’s drystone terraced hills.
Nicolás Delgado Alcega, MArch II. Section as existing and proposed management plan for steeply sloped land in Vallecorsa.
Nicolás Delgado Alcega, MArch II. Renewal strategy for Vallecorsa’s urban core through plot aggregation, density subtractions, and new organizing courtyards.