Explore Lab 24

La Petite Ceinture: reanimating the urban fringe

La Petite Ceinture: reanimating the urban fringe

Coen van Bergeijk

Just inside the city of Paris lays a derelict train track, hidden and forgotten, called “La Petite Ceinture”, the little belt. This belt of abandonment forms a ring through the outer arrondissements and connects these utterly different worlds through a place of continuity. It forms a connection between the shabby areas of the 19th arrondissement with the fancy old ladies in the 16th and mingles the posh families of the 14th with the hipsters in the 20th.

It was built in the 1850’s, but finally stopped functioning as a public transport in the 30’s with the emerging of the metro and by the 1990’s it was abandoned for good. Its tracks traverse the city on high bridges and within deep trenches, through green islands and dark tunnels. Now some of its former stations found new destinations, while others are left to insubordination and the forces of nature. The tracks and tunnels now form a welcome hub of lawlessness, drawing in graffiti artists, vagabonds, urban explorers and mischievous kids, eager to escape the control of the city.

To guide development, but without skipping the natural order of abandonment and regeneration, I focus on the in-between state. To achieve this, I intend to create a dynamic experience and design a certain amount of interventions along the tracks, that form a dialogue between the city and the line. These breadcrumbs guide the wanderer along the tracks and frame the beauty of the passing time and the surrounding decay. This way I can restore not only the physical ring, but reanimate the immaterial presence of “la Petite Ceinture” in the minds of the Parisians.

Redeveloping agricultural heritage in central Italy

Redeveloping agricultural heritage in central Italy

André van Deursen

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.