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Cantiere Barca project – Part 1

Il portico di Via Anglesio nel 2012

Il portico di Via Anglesio nel 2012

The Cantiere Barca project starts in June 2011, within the public art program Situa.to, cured by a.titolo (Francesca Comisso, Lisa Parola e Luisa Perlo) and the architect Maurizio Cilli, with the support of Regione Piemonte, Città di Torino and Compagnia di San Paolo during the period of Y-our Time Turin 2010 European Youth Capital.

In this context, antropology students Giulia Majolino and Alessandra Giannandrea, together with architect Francesco Strocchio, identified the area of Via Anglesio as a spot of interest: their research showed several critical points within the Barca district, but a strong potential in the local community.

Here comes the idea of involving a group of young citizens in an artistic experience related to the territory, strenghtening both the social identity of the group and its relation with the public space: in this way, it was thought to foster active citizenship processes able to value the cultural and social patrimony.

The first workshop starts in June, organized with the berlin based art/architecture studio Raumlabor, together with a group of local youth aged between 16 and 35 years. The workshop results in several structures built using reused wood, a sign “Cantiere Barca” placed on top of the portico and a structure called “Star House”.

The project continues entering the programme Nuovi Committenti of the Fondation de France, introduced in Italy by the Andriano Olivetti Foundation and a.titolo itself, with the support of Goethe Institut. This lucky situation led to two other workshops in 2012, in June and September, targeted at local urban regeneration activities, with some work focused on two empty spaces in the portico (numbers 25A and 25B) closed from at least 10 years, in spite of several public calls throughout years for their assignment for commercial use1.

We knew about the project during this period as Studio Superfluo, together with the collective Marasma Design. It was during these workshops that the project organizers looked for our interest into joining them, to help manage the space at number 25A – a minimal laboratory – to characterize the future Youth Center with our skills in handcrafts and woodworking.

This is where the Microfactory idea was born: the two spaces, called Officina (Workshop) and Sartoria (Tailorshop) had to work together constituting a “local brand” under the name Made in Barca. The profit coming from it should have financed the Youth Center activities.

At this point, a period that we’d call “pause and research” began. We were waiting for the public administration to officially assign the spaces. Since the public administration is very slow in Italy for this kind of stuff, we had a lot of time to search for calls, challanges, funds and so on, and we aimed high trying to take advantage of the project’s follow-up. In fact, the MoMa of New York has acquired a picture and a video by Raumlabor, and the project was well known within the city of Turin. Meanwhile, some residual funds from the provious workshops were used to partially restructure the spaces, thanks to the work of a.titolo: this is how we’ve got toilettes in the Tailorshop, hot-water heating and electricity, while other works had do be done in the (past) future.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to find new supporters nor funders, so a.titolo decided to try again, writing another project for another Raumlabor workshop during September 2013, presented to Compagnia di San Paolo.

The project is funded. The workshop aimed at completing the furniture set of the spaces using DIY practices and reused wood, giving a proper identity to the constituting Cantiere Barca Association. Moreover, some workgroups were focused on product design for the forthcoming Made in Barca brand.

35 people came to the one week long workshop, most of them coming from the Politechnic of Turin because we had a agreement for 3 credits as external activities. Unluckily, only few people were locals. This confirmed the trend we were experiencing: if during 2011 the local engagement was high, workshop by workshop the locals decreased in presence. But, at the same time, it was a good challenge to “open” the Barca district to the city.

However,the results of the workshop were very etherogenous, and mostly not suitable to functionally solve the spaces. Even the products for the brand were not saleable, because difficult to use or mount. But the experience was an incredible exercise of creativity: the light workgroup contributed with more than 10 models, starting from aluminium sheets used for offset printing; the seats workgroup realized interesting designs with basic materials, such as plastic buckets, small wood pieces and plastic strips; while the table workgroup was amazing, as it realized 8 fully functional closable table, useful in case of parties, markets, activities and fairs.

1 Ultimo bando: Procedura 1/2010 della Divisione Patrimonio Innovazione Sviluppo Lavoro e Formazione Professionale, Servizi al Cittadino, Settore Contratti Attivi – Amministrazione di Torino