Redeveloping agricultural heritage in central Italy

Central Italy is famous for its iconic hillside agricultural landscape. This view of hills with scattered farmhouses is unfortunately in trouble. Since the latest agricultural tradition of the ‘mezzadria’ was left from the 1970’s on, a large agricultural building stock became vacant and started to decay. Some buildings were saved by redesigning them into holiday housing but many are not that lucky. Tuscany is a very successful region in redeveloping the agricultural estates in new cooperatives and the remaining buildings are easily transformed into holiday houses, agriturismi and Bed&Breakfasts. Regions like Umbria however, are staying at the lower end of these developments.

In this project I take the situation at the Principality of Parrano in Umbria as casestudy. The agricultural tradition in this region goes back to the Etruscans that arrived here around 800 BC. Centuries long, the agricultural practice here was based on the mezzadria sharecropping contracts but since the second half of the twentieth century the production came to a halt caused by the illegalization of the mezzadria in 1982.

My intention is to develop a new strategy for this agricultural estate in Parrano to make it functional and profitable again, based on the longstanding local agricultural tradition and cultural heritage of the buildings and landscape. Hereby the aim is to make the local agricultural economy self-sufficient and independent of tourism, which will be considered as secondary income.The introduction of new farming-types like solar- and ICT farming will be implemented to evolve the Principality of Parrano towards a sustainable future.

The project will be developed further into a new architectural design for one of the vacant buildings: Podere Bovorosso. Heritage will be the starting point from which the aim is to design and develop a profitable and sustainable future for this specific farm.

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