Co­lin Ward, un tet­to per tut­ti

Co­lin Ward, a Roof for All

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Un li­bro, ap­pe­na usci­to in Ita­lia, ri­lan­cia il pen­sie­ro del pro­get­ti­sta anar­chi­co in­gle­se A book ju­st pu­bli­shed in Ita­ly ex­plo­res the ideas of the Bri­ti­sh anar­chi­st and ar­chi­tect A vol­te si sco­pre che i gran­di te­mi con­tem­po­ra­nei han­no ra­di­ci pro­fon­de. L’esem­pio vie­ne da un li­bro – Ar­chi­tet­tu­ra del dis­sen­so. For­me e pra­ti­che al­ter­na­ti­ve del­lo spa­zio ur­ba­no (a cu­ra di Gia­co­mo Bo­rel­la) – per la pri­ma vol­ta tra­dot­to in ita­lia­no e ap­pe­na pub­bli­ca­to da Elèu­the­ra. È una rac­col­ta di sag­gi e in­ter­ven­ti, scrit­ti tra il 1962 e il 2004 dal pro­get­ti­sta au­to­di­dat­ta in­gle­se Co­lin Ward, acu­to e ap­pas­sio­na­to os­ser­va­to­re del­le for­me più ver­na­co­la­ri dell’ar­chi­tet­tu­ra del do­po­guer­ra, nel sol­co dei teo­ri­ci in­gle­si del­le New To­wns co­me Pa­trick Ged­des, Ebe­ne­zer Ho­ward e Louis Mum­ford. Ward, che già nei suoi scrit­ti de­gli an­ni Set­tan­ta con­si­de­ra su­pe­ra­to il Mo­vi­men­to Mo­der­no e ne de­scri­ve i fon­da­men­ti co­me “ideo­lo­gi­ci, eli­ta­ri e bru­tal­men­te mec­ca­ni­ci­sti”, rin­trac­cia una fon­te d’ispi­ra­zio­ne en­tu­sia­sman­te nel­le for­me po­po­la­ri e non uf­fi­cia­li di au­to-co­stru­zio­ne e in par­ti­co­la­re nei plo­tlands, gli in­se­dia­men­ti spon­ta­nei sor­ti nel sud-est dell’In­ghil­ter­ra nel­la pri­ma me­tà del No­ve­cen­to co­me so­lu­zio­ne al­la ne­ces­si­tà di pro­cu­rar­si un’abi­ta­zio­ne a bas­so co­sto, di an­da­re in vil­leg­gia­tu­ra, di fug­gi­re dal­le cit­tà, di da­re ri­pa­ro do­po i bom­bar­da­men­ti. Una pro­li­fe­ra­zio­ne ir­re­go­la­re crea­ta con ma­nu­fat­ti di re­cu­pe­ro co­me ca­set­te da giar­di­no o car­roz­ze fer­ro­via­rie di­smes­se, che fi­nì col coin­vol­ge­re in­tel­let­tua­li e ar­ti­sti, at­trat­ti da que­sto “ca­lei­do­sco­pio co­lo­ra­to di ca­pan­ni e ba­rac­che”. Un’espe­rien­za chiu­sa im­prov­vi­sa­men­te nel 1947 con l’in­tro­du­zio­ne del­le leg­gi ur­ba­ni­sti­che in In­ghil­ter­ra e il con­se­guen­te av­vio del­la sta­gio­ne dei gran­di quar­tie­ri pro­get­ta­ti, che l’au­to­re con­si­de­ra “la mor­te del­la cit­tà a gra­na fi­ne”. Nei ca­pi­to­li non cro­no­lo­gi­ci del li­bro – de­di­ca­ti an­che ad al­tri te­mi og­gi di gran­de at­tua­li­tà co­me l’eco­lo­gia e gli or­ti ur­ba­ni, ol­tre che ai co­strut­to­ri del­la cat­te­dra­le di Char­tres e ai pro­get­ti­sti al­ter­na­ti­vi Has­san Fa­thy e Wal­ter Se­gal – l’ana­li­si del­la qua­li­tà li­ber­ta­ria e so­cia­le (e an­che este­ti­ca) dei plo­tlands è un fil rou­ge che rie­mer­ge spes­so. A lo­ro sem­bra al­lu­de­re an­che l’ul­ti­mo scrit­to – La ca­sa co­strui­ta in una not­te – che rac­con­ta di una con­sue­tu­di­ne an­ti­ca di tan­te cul­tu­re del mon­do, se­con­do la qua­le chi rie­sce a co­strui­re una ca­sa dal tra­mon­to all’al­ba ne di­ven­ta a tut­ti gli ef­fet­ti pro­prie­ta­rio. In que­sti tem­pi di mi­gra­zio­ni di mas­sa non può non far pen­sa­re. So­me­ti­mes you di­sco­ver that the great the­mes of the pre­sent day ha­ve deep roo­ts. An exam­ple of this is pro­vi­ded by a book – Ar­chi­tet­tu­ra del dis­sen­so. For­me e pra­ti­che al­ter­na­ti­ve del­lo spa­zio ur­ba­no (edi­ted by Gia­co­mo Bo­rel­la) – whi­ch is a col­lec­tion of es­says and pa­pers trans­la­ted in­to Ita­lian for the fir­st ti­me and pu­bli­shed by Elèu­the­ra. They we­re writ­ten bet­ween 1962 and 2004 by the self-taught Bri­ti­sh ar­chi­tect Co­lin Ward, an acu­te and en­thu­sia­stic ob­ser­ver of the mo­re ver­na­cu­lar forms of po­st-war ar­chi­tec­tu­re, fol­lo­wing in the wa­ke of the Bri­ti­sh theo­rists of the New To­wns li­ke Pa­trick Ged­des, Ebe­ne­zer Ho­ward and Louis Mum­ford. Ward, who had al­rea­dy di­smis­sed the Mo­dern Mo­ve­ment as out­da­ted in his wri­tings of the 1970s and de­scri­bes its foun­da­tions as ideo­lo­gi­cal, eli­ti­st and bru­tal­ly me­cha­ni­stic, finds a sti­mu­la­ting sour­ce of in­spi­ra­tion in po­pu­lar and unof­fi­cial forms of self-buil­ding and in par­ti­cu­lar in the plo­tlands, the spon­ta­neous set­tle­men­ts esta­bli­shed in the sou­th-ea­st of En­gland in the fir­st half of the 20th cen­tu­ry as a so­lu­tion to the need for low-co­st hou­sing, for peo­ple to ha­ve a ho­li­day ho­me, to esca­pe from the ci­ties, to find shel­ter af­ter the bom­bing. An ir­re­gu­lar pro­li­fe­ra­tion crea­ted out of sal­va­ged struc­tu­res li­ke gar­den sheds or di­su­sed rail­way car­ria­ges in whi­ch in­tel­lec­tuals and ar­tists be­ca­me in­vol­ved as well, at­trac­ted by this “co­lour­ful ka­lei­do­sco­pe of shacks and shan­ties”. An ex­pe­rien­ce that ca­me to an abrupt end in 1947 wi­th the in­tro­duc­tion of plan­ning re­gu­la­tions in En­gland and the con­se­quent be­gin­ning of the pe­riod of great plan­ned di­stric­ts, whi­ch the au­thor con­si­ders “the dea­th of the fi­ne-grai­ned ci­ty”. In the chap­ters of the book not ar­ran­ged in chro­no­lo­gi­cal or­der – and de­vo­ted to so­me other hi­ghly to­pi­cal the­mes li­ke the en­vi­ron­ment and ur­ban ve­ge­ta­ble gar­dens, as well as to the buil­ders of Char­tres Ca­the­dral and the al­ter­na­ti­ve ar­chi­tec­ts Has­san Fa­thy and Wal­ter Se­gal – the ana­ly­sis of the li­ber­ta­rian and so­cial (and even ae­sthe­tic) qua­li­ty of the plo­tlands is a th­read that runs all the way th­rou­gh. It is to them that the la­st es­say – The world­wi­de one-night hou­se – seems to be al­lu­ding too in its de­scrip­tion of an an­cient cu­stom found in ma­ny cul­tu­res: the be­lief that if you can build a hou­se bet­ween sun­set and sun­ri­se, then the ow­ner of the land can­not evict you. In the­se ti­mes of mass mi­gra­tion it is a con­cept that is bound to ma­ke us think


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