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Towards a sustainable community

Lecturer
Wittfrida Mitterer
Focus

Towards a sustainable community. The environmental, social and economic impacts of the reconstruction plan in Onna.

I will report about the activity of our group of bio-architecture to report to normality the small city of Onna, destroyed by an earthquake on  April 6th 2009.  Over the last years, Onna has suffered a slow depopulation and abandonment, due to the failure of both the masterplan of the industrial area in ​​Bazzano, the inability to create jobs, and the lack of investment in local values. This resulted in the loss of attraction to young couples with a consequent separation of commercial activities from the country, including those related to proximity services. The average age of the population has decreased and so it has been for the future prospects of existence, closely linked to the generational renewal. However, the lack of strategical development has determined, until the time of the earthquake, the maintenance of a compact rural settlement, characterized by an intact urban fabric, not too compromised by incongruous interventions that characterize many contemporary suburbs.

The present scenario highlights the difficulty to recover the historical centre, which will never reach the splendour and values of the past centuries. 

The synthesis resulting from the observation of pre-earthquake situation, clarifies how the development in recent decades outlined in the surrounding territories a strong existential crisis, distorting the local cultural landscape and construction technique and details research. The earthquake, causing the almost complete destruction of the settlement, has dramatically worsened the situation. A possible loss of identity, resulting from an amorphous reconstruction detached by the necessity of the inhabitants, could derive the future risk of transforming the village in a sort of isolated suburb, with poor living qualities.

With the request of a certain and concrete future for Onna, the reconstruction plan conceived by our group has the aim to point out to the preservation of the authenticity of the village, strengthening the linkage between citizen and place, in order to ensure its survival.

With the only decision of “rebuilding Onna” it does not imply to ensure an ideal future. On the contrary, this means to review the recent development trends and programme, both for the village and territory. To secure a future for Onna, we must reinvent the existing construction and living paradigms, aiming to a qualitative growth, with a concentration of new buildings around the historical center and the denial of fragmentary and dispersants peripheral interventions.

While the settlement threatens the isolation from the surrounding countryside due to the development of new speedway and the decay of the riverbanks battered by industries, it is important to provide economic, social and environmental regeneration of Onna within a wider strategical vision. A “river park” along the Aterno, which can constitute a potential touristic gateway to the Gran Sasso National park is one of the possible avenue.