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THE POTENTIAL OF NEGLECTED PLACES. IN LOCO: THE WIDESPREAD MUSEUM OF ABANDONMENT

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The case-study analysed and discussed in this paper, IN LOCO-The Widespread Museum of Abandonment, offers an example of urban and cultural regeneration project as driver for economic, environmental and social development. The project has been designed as a process of permanent urban and cultural regeneration of abandoned places with the aim to raise an awareness and cultural knowledge on these forgotten places, and to connect them through a series of itineraries that testify the social, cultural and economic evolutions of a territory and a society in a permanent state of transition. Furthermore, the paper presents how, with the support of the EU research project gE.CO, the contents and tools of IN LOCO have the ambition to build a platform capable to trigger effective processes of place-making, participation and finally regeneration for city-makers, local communities and public administrations.
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SCIentific RESearch and Information Technology
RicercaScientificaeTecnologiedell'Informazione
Vol 10, Issue 2 (2020), 159-172
e-ISSN 2239-4303, DOI 10.2423/i22394303v10n2p159
Open access article licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND
CASPUR-CIBER Publishing, http://www.sciresit.it
T
HEPOTENTIALOFNEGLECTEDPLACES
.
INLOCO
:
THEWIDESPREADMUSEUMOF
ABANDONMENT
StefaniaProli*,FrancescoTortori**
*Department of Architecture, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna - Bologna, Italy.
**Spazi Indecisi – Forlì, Italy.
Abstract
The case-study analysed and discussed in this paper, INLOCOTheWidespreadMuseumofAbandonment, offers an example
of urban and cultural regeneration project as driver for economic, environmental and social development. The project has
been designed as a process of permanent urban and cultural regeneration of abandoned places with the aim to raise an
awareness and cultural knowledge on these forgotten places, and to connect them through a series of itineraries that testify
the social, cultural and economic evolutions of a territory and a society in a permanent state of transition. Furthermore, the
paper presents how, with the support of the EU research project gE.CO, the contents and tools of INLOCO have the ambition
to build a platform capable to trigger effective processes of place-making, participation and finally regeneration for city-
makers, local communities and public administrations.
Keywords
Urban regeneration, temporary use, adaptive reuse, cultural heritage, generative commons
1. Introduction
Since 2010, the collective SpaziIndecisi
[Undecided Spaces] has been exploring the
neglected places of the Romagna area (Italy) by
crossing gates, taking photographs, interviewing
people, sifting archives, organizing events,
collecting memories and data of an immense
cultural heritage that is in danger of being lost.
Only in the Romagna region, an area that
covers around 22.000 sq. km, have been identified
several hundred of “places on the margins”: some
deserve to be abandoned or demolished, others to
have a second life, others still of becoming a
cultural heritage.
Many of these places today are part of a
database map which is hosted in the web site
www.spaziindecisi.it, and some of them, due to
their history, the storytelling behind them, their
historical and cultural values, have become part of
INLOCO,theWidespreadMuseumofAbandonment.
The locution INLOCO has been choosen to
name the project for its three different meanings:
on site, at the location itself;
in a determined moment, in a certain
circumstance;
(in medicine) sick spot in which one acts
therapeutically.
As its etymology suggests, INLOCO is a
research and urban regeneration project in a
permanent state of transition: rather than being
fixed and immutable like “traditional” museums,
its first attempt is to picture the potential of
“contemporary ruins” (Camoncini & Nosova,
2017) and to stimulate a dialogue between them
and the imagination of the viewer by exposing the
stories and the events that they represent, their
cultural and social values, the memories to which
they relate with and then to encourage a new
relationship between past and future by fostering
a temporary change of use or a conversion process.
The general aim of INLOCO is in fact to foster
urban regeneration by experimenting “adaptive
reuse processes, where the wordadaptive is
used to explain the multiple meanings of this
approach: at first the focus on the change of use by
adapting the content to the container with minimal
transformations; secondly, relating to the field of
biology, it refers to the capacity of a living being to
adapt to change; thirdly, it introduces the temporal
component of reuse, which is not permanent and
fixed-term but is experimented with diverse
gradients of change or with a renewed dynamism
(2020), n. 2
S.Proli,F.Tortori
160
over time aimed at activating processes and
testing new urban assets rather than proposing
definitive solutions (Camoncini & Nosova, 2017).
In adaptive reuse projects, in fact, the
regeneration of the heritage and the environment,
including its tangible and intangible components
(e.g. social, cultural and economic values),
provides the basis for an integrated approach
where the emphasis on the physical rehabilitation
of the architectural monument leaves space to the
social, cultural and economic processes, by means
of new policies and tools that can help to include
the conservation and integration of the new urban
values into a sustainable shared vision that works
primarily in the short term (Unesco, 2011; Günçe
& D. Mısırlısoy, 2019).
A common denominator of these practices is
the arising of new actors (community of
inhabitants, associations, cooperatives, small
owners, artists, designers, activists): self-
organized local groups that, by investing their time
and creativity not for the purpose of short-term
profit expectations, strongly contribute in building
a new policy discourse about the qualities of
places. By developing collaboration among
stakeholders in urban development as well as
creating new public resources through a
collaborative approach, this method allows the
implementation of effective urban regeneration
and place making projects based on strong social
network and temporary reuse ideas. Following a
period when the potential of local groups and
initiatives has been underestimated and ignored,
these new group of “city-makers” have shown that
urban regeneration goals can be also addressed
through creative solutions that not only better
include emerging themes such as social and
technological innovation, sharing economy etc.,
but also foster a new mode of interaction between
citizens and local administrations (Certomà,
2016). This form of civic engagement, that have
been identified under the idea of urban commons,
can generate a new range of opportunities: from
the active preservation of urban and cultural
heritage, to sustainable and innovation-driven
urban development processes based on shared-
based economies; from a reconfiguration in the
usage and ownership to new forms of work and
welfare and a diverse set of tools that enable and
chart new connections between space, urban
1
Grant agreement ID: 822766. Funded under: H2020-
EU.3.6.2.2.
objects, data and human behavior (Senior, Florian
& Szabo, 2013; Mattei & Quarta, 2018).
The project presented and discussed in this
paper, INLOCO:theWidespreadMuseumof
Abandonment, is an example of how temporary
adaptive reuse practices can be proposed as
effective urban regeneration tools and processes
at the territorial scale, for the preservation and
valorization of neglected urban and cultural
heritage. In particular, the following paragraphs
will examine the approach promoted and
progressively tested in the Romagna area by IN
LOCO: in fact the steps of the project have started
with an open source and interactive mapping
action (aimed at recording and cataloguing the
abandoned spaces through field research, direct
exploration and involvement of citizenship), have
developed by experimenting temporary events
(with the aim of fostering a new awareness and
culture about these forgotten places), and have
tested new relations and connections through
alternative travel itineraries that testify the social,
cultural and economic development of a territory
and a society in a permanent state of transition.
Furthermore, the paper presents how, with the
support of the EU research funded project gE.CO1,
the contents and tools of INLOCO, in addition to
being an instrument of knowledge, conservation
and enhancement of urban and cultural heritage,
have the ambition to build a platform capable to
trigger effective processes of place-making,
participation and finally regeneration, aggregating
around a network of contemporary ruins and
neglected heritage a heterogeneous community of
groups, with the main aim to translate the "case by
case" solution into more structured and lasting
regeneration and reuse strategies both for
commoners and public administrations.
2. INLOCO:afoursteppathforculturaland
urbanregenerationofabandonedplaces
The traditional mission of a museum is
essentially cultural. According to the ICOM
(International Council of Museums) Statute, “a
museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in
the service of society and its development, open to
the public, which acquires, conserves, researches,
communicates and exhibits the tangible and
intangible heritage of humanity and its
environment for the purposes of education, study
(2020), n. 2 Thepotentialofneglectedplaces.
161
and enjoyment” (ICOM, 2017, p.3). In this respect,
main purpose of the WidespreadMuseumof
Abandonment, INLOCO, is the scouting and the
enhancement of the most significant derelict
places of the Romagna area. For this scope, the first
important activity has been the creation of an
online catalogue of the abandoned places and the
collection of memories, documents, images that
can represent their identity.
The catalogue thus provides not only a
description of each neglected heritage in both its
material and intangible forms but also an useful
documentation that can help to have a complete
overview for future choices of regeneration and
reuse.
In line with theRecommendation on the
Historic Urban Landscape” adopted by UNESCO
(2011), where the idea of “heritage safeguarding”
is strictly combined with that of “liveability of
urban areas“ and “economic development and
social cohesion”, main aims of INLOCO are to
integrate and frame temporary adaptive reuse
strategies for historic and contemporary ruins
within the larger goals of overall sustainable
development, by:
Experimenting new forms of territorial
enhancement and valorisation of abandoned
cultural heritage, with special regards to the
so-called “minor” heritage that has meaning for
local communities but which may not be
formally recognized by protection in law for its
economic/touristic or artistic value (Tapini &
Gomez-Robles, 2017);
Contributing to the improvement of a
sustainable, slow and creative form of tourism,
which can stimulate innovative urban
regeneration projects, strengthen place-based
identities and engage people in the connection
with unique local pasts moving towards
"secondary" routes and stimulating innovative
projects;
Fostering the development of cultural and
social cohesion through collaborative and
participative approaches for the promotion,
valorization and regeneration of abandoned
places;
Triggering a network of local stakeholders
through the active involvement and
engagement of diverse groups or communities
such as students and scholars, citizens,
associations, artists, tourists in the enjoyment
of the itineraries.
The development of replicable tools plays a
key-role for the benefit of the communities and of
their cultural heritage because allows each
territory and city to offer sufficient room for
experimenting “light” urban regeneration
practices (De Smet, 2013).
Based on the above assumptions, through the
project INLOCO, SpaziIndecisi has tested a four-
step path (from exploration to patrimonialization,
temporary reuse or re-activation) to meet the
challenges of a comprehensive and integrated
approach to sustainable urban regeneration of
disused or unfinished spaces that can be replicated
and assessed in other sites and cultural
environments.
2.1Mapping
The founding moment of each project of Spazi
Indecisi is urban exploration, a practice that opens
up new spaces for a reflection on the processes of
deep transformation occurring in our
contemporary territories and cities (Pisano,
2015).
Only through the experience of discovery, in
fact, it is possible to empathize with the spirit and
the history of a place; furthermore, the exploration
of the urban landscape is the first opportunity to
get to know and discover the “undecided” spaces
of a territory: neglected architectures or in-
between-spaces that occupy the ambiguous
territories between the boundaries of other
apparently well defined spaces and places, while
they are waiting for new uses and functions.
This research phase is two-folded: to produce
an open-source database of abandoned places,
with the possibility to offer information and
knowledge about these neglected heritage to city
actors at all levels (from citizens to city planners);
and to create a first opportunity for raising
awareness and commitment to urban
regeneration issues among the local community,
through diverse forms of engagement such as
guided walks or open photography calls (Fig.1).
Thanks to the open-source mapping, local
communities have, on the one hand, the
opportunity to report the abandoned places who
belong to their local identity and, on the other
hand, SpaziIndecisi has the chance to collect the
first important indications for understanding
which of them can be assumed as cultural heritage
to protect and value.
(2020), n. 2
S.Proli,F.Tortori
162
Fig.1:A guided walk of IN LOCO sites in Cesenatico (FC)
2.2Patrimonialization
The success of regeneration practices depends
at first on the capacity of understanding the
potential of abandoned places. This relies upon
different factors: from the characteristics of the
location (accessibility, services, connections, etc.)
to the qualities of the architecture and the
landscape.
However, the approach proposed by Spazi
Indecisi is based on the assumption that all these
aspects, although important, are subordinated to
the need of linking derelict places to a powerful
memory. As witnesses of the social, cultural and
economic aspects that are connected to the rising
and decline of the process of industrialization over
the years, most of the abandoned spaces of today
have shaped the civic identity of local communities
and are thus pieces of a cultural legacy that needs
to be evaluated by new narratives and
expressions.
This analytical phase requires in-depth work,
which aims to get the necessary insigh ts to a better
understanding of the places, like their history,
their historical and cultural context and the
testimonies of the people who lived or worked in
them.
The collection of this material aims to produce
and preserve a memory that risks disappearing
without anyone noticing: on the contrary, by
researching documents and gathering personal
stories, it is possible to preserve and perpetuate
their memory, to give an identity and a status and
thus to collectively recognize a cultural heritage to
protect and evaluate. Raising awareness, exposure
and valorization initiatives are part of
Fig.2:Photo and urban exploration of IN LOCO sites in Ravenna
the process of patrimonialization, which allows
not only to give to the elected abandoned places
the status of cultural heritage through its legal
recognition and to acknowledge certain values in
these objects, but also to contribute to the social
and cultural shaping of these values (Diez de Pablo,
2015).
2.3Reactivation
One of the main objectives of urban
regeneration projects is to re-introduce
abandoned spaces into the urban and economic
cycle. For achieving this objective, INLOCO has
been conceived as a participatory reactivation
process where the abandoned spaces become at
first a field of research for architects, artists, urban
explorers, photographers etc. to produce a
reflection that only art can generate (Fig.2).
In this respect SpaziIndecisi has engaged
through the years a diversified group of creative
professionals for producing, at first, a series of
events and performances with the ambition of
showing the abandoned places from different
perspectives and uses possibilities; secondly an
array of site-specific multimedia contents with the
aim of opening new points of view and thoughts on
the past, present and future of abandoned places.
These resources, which have a different nature
(short documentaries, video art, site-specific
artistic creations, interviews and sound projects),
have become special content packages for the
Museum plan through the digital app InLoco.
Besides offering an overview of the abandoned
places and of the itineraries of the widespread
museum, giving details and information on places,
providing historical images and drawings,
(2020), n. 2 Thepotentialofneglectedplaces.
163
allowing visitors to easily reach the places through
the link to Google Map, the app is the tool that
allows visitors to enjoy these special contents on
their device, once on site (Fig.3).
The overall objective is to create a different
sense of place that has more to do with experience
for turning these sites, although initially in a
conceptual way, from derelict areas to desirable
environment to preserve, live and regenerate.
Fig.3:Main features of the App IN LOCO.
2.4Networking
The involvement of partners at all scales (from
citizens to government) is crucial for regeneration
projects that arerooted in existing urban or rural
areas. Even when a place is abandoned it does not
mean that there is not a community around it.
Networking is thus a crucial step that allows
attracting forces and gaining new resources and
strategic partnerships which can guarantee the
sustainability of the project over the years.
Networking facilitates the organization of citizens,
the creation of new communities and the
simplification of their decision-making procedures
in order to develop innovative reactivation or
reuse solutions that can be immediately
compatible with the existing legal framework.
But for forgotten and abandoned places,
networking means also to explore new
connections which are able to interpret the social,
cultural and economic metamorphosis of the
contemporary landscape. This is why INLOCO has
been structured on a series of travel itineraries,
continuously evolving, which aspire to reveal a
new layer of meaning to the current “landscape
palimpsest” and to stimulate the exploration of
2
On t his reg ards, we r ecall the XXIV General Conference of the
International council of museums, ICOM (Milan,3-9 July 2016)
on 'Museums and cultural landscapes', which paid particular
attention on the social responsibilities of museums towards
cultural and natural heritage, e.g. through territorial
safeguards and active protection.
new territories and spaces through alternative
forms of tourism.
3. INLOCO’smuseummanual:sevenitineraries,a
visitorcenterandaplatformasdriverforurban
reuseandregeneration
A museum is not a “container” of a mere
miscellaneous group of objects, but is at first an
institution that symbolizes fundamental values for
the contemporary society. The foundation of a
museum has in fact a symbolic meaning for the
community that hosts it, since it expresses the
collective ideals of the culture, the knowledge and
the education of a society2. In the case of INLOCO,
the ideals are: inclusion, sharing, participation,
dialogue, and sustainability: besides the need to
protect and conservate this abandoned cultural
heritage, in a widespread perspective its
characteristics are plotted for enhancing
connections between local communities and for
promoting strategies for the sustainable and
integrated development of the identities and the
resources of the territory (Riva, 2017; Magliacani,
2015; Davis, 1999) 3.
Its final objective is to generate temporary
reactivation projects of the selected abandoned
spaces, by experimenting their potential, and by
adapting and transforming them to new uses
according to their morphology, structure and
characteristics.
For the reasons mentioned above, the
abandoned places that become part of the museum
must meet the following criteria:
Ability of the place to testify the social, cultural
and economic aspects of the territory;
Aesthetics of the place;
Accessibility of the place;
Quality and quantity of historical information;
Witnesses who can contribute to the
storytelling and the narrative process of the
place;
Conditions of the building;
State of the structure.
Whether the decision to include an
abandoned place is driven by economic, social or
governmental benefits, criteria specific to each
3
The concept of widespread museum is internationally
interpreted as ecomuseum, for which there are various
scientific publications and articles (see references).
(2020), n. 2
S.Proli,F.Tortori
164
driver are crucial to determine the feasibility of the
decision. Evaluation based on the mentioned
criteria ensures the choice to include an
abandoned place in one of the musum itinerary, to
consider it as major destination or to credit it as a
complementary target of the museum.
Decisions are taken by the member of the
association SpaziIndecisi with the support of
activists, scholars, students and communities who
collaborates with the association for their research
on the field and/or their engagement in collective
reflections on the abandoned places. Furthermore,
periodically public photographic calls allows to
monitor building deterioration and to scout,
among the abandoned cultural landscape, new
buildings that deserve attention through new
meanings and contents.
3.1Itinerariesandvisitorcentercontentsand
organization
The abandoned landscape crossed by INLOCO
is connected through a plurality of thematic
travel itineraries that intersect unusual places
for discovering the social, cultural and economic
evolutions of the Romagna area (Fig.4). These
itineraries touch the most varied spaces: from
the workplaces of the '900s, which have
transformed the growth and the form of the
cities, to the symbols of Romagna summer
entertainment (the Riviera), up to the holiday
camps of the Adriatic coast of the Fascist regime:
1. LAVORIINTRAS(CORSO)[Work in
progress(ed)] is a tribute to some of the most
significant workplaces of the twentieth
century in Forlì, revived through the
testimonies of former workers and employees,
gathered in a documentary visible on site. An
itinerary to discover the city of Forlì through
ancient and lost crafts.
2. DO.VE[Where] is an itinery that allows to
discover how a group of contemporary artists
have investigated the aesthetic and narrative
potential of eight abandoned places, to give
them a new life by fostering the collective
imagination.
3. TOTALLYRIVIERAis a journey along the
Romagna coast to discover the holiday camps
built during the fascist regime, among
modernism and neoclassicism: impressive
4
EXATR is co-managed with the association CittàdiEbla, in
partnership with the Municipality of Forlì and the property.
architectures facing the beach, in contrast with
the dense urbanization of the coast that has
encompassed and, at the same time, isolated
them.
4. TOTALLYTERRAE is a journey through the
Romagna hinterland to discover the
architectures built between the two World
Wars. An itinerary that questions the
possibilities, for this dissonant heritage, to
become a container for new ideas and projects
in the future.
dive into the past, to reflect upon the way
5. UN’ESTATEALMARE[A summer at the sea]
is an itinerary to discover the spaces that
have helped to create the “Riviera holiday
myth”during the 60s and the 70s.
A dive into the past, to reflect upon the way
vacation has changed and to explore the
future of tourism for a territory that has
made hospitality its trademark (Fig.5).
6. DARSENA3.0[City Dock 3.0] is a tour through
the Ravenna city dock, the old port district
located between the Adriatic Sea and the
historical centre: the former industrial district
of the city is an example of industrial
archaeology that now host several temporary
urban regeneration projects (Fig.6).
7. SENTIIERI[Paths of Yesterday] is a hiking
route dedicated to the old vernacular stone
houses of the Romagna Apennines: under the
guide and the memories of its inhabitants, who
are witnesses of a passed slow living, visitors
can discover a rich heritage of art and crafts
that began to disappear from the post-war
reconstruction onwards.
Through the itineraries, INLOCO aims to
foster a diverse form of tourism, proposing
sustainable activities that allow the knowledge of
a particular and unique heritage thanks to
unknown but creative routes, or that simply
encourage the autonomous creation of adhoc
itineraries using the resources on the website of
SpaziIndecisi.
The purpose of the seven itineraries of INLOCO
is to push the exploration of such marginal places
of the Romagna area. The former bus depot in Forlì
EXATR4, an example of adaptive temporary reuse
project promoted by SpaziIndecisi and
headquarters of the association, host the visitor
center of the widespread museum, with maps and
(2020), n. 2 Thepotentialofneglectedplaces.
165
Fig.4:IN LOCO Itineraries and main sites
Fig.5:Magazzini Granai Silos (Ravenna)– Itinerary n. 6 (DARSENA3.0)
(2020), n. 2
S.Proli,F.Tortori
166
Fig.6:Discoteca Woodpecker (Cervia, Ravenna) – Itinerary n. 5 (UN’ESTATEALMARE)
Fig.7:Types of special contents through the App IN LOCO
(2020), n. 2 Thepotentialofneglectedplaces.
167
headquarters of the association, host the visitor
center of the widespread museum, with maps and
technological devices to give useful directions and
information to the visitors.
Unlike traditional visitor centers, the aim here
is only to suggest themes and give a brief
background for pushing the widespread museum
explorers to lose themselves in the urban and rural
landscape in search of abandoned places (Fig.8).
Once in the vicinity of the places, they will be
able to enjoy site-specific multimedia contents
(Fig.7).
Fig.8:An Image of the interior of IN LOCO Visitor Center, in
the former bus depot (EXATR)
These instruments (itineraries and visitor
center) are means for developing a regeneration
platform for the adaptive, inclusive, sustainable
and innovation-driven re-use of abandoned
buildings. INLOCO acts in fact not only as a
strategy for knowledge, conservation and
enhancement of the traces and memories of
derelict urban and rural environment, but it is
above all a tool capable of triggering processes of
active reading, participation and finally
regeneration of abandoned places by involving
heterogeneous communities (artists, associations,
local administrations, groups of active citizens
etc.) for the care, share management and
reactivation actions.
By acting as a platform, INLOCO aims to foster
and facilitate the generation of temporary
reactivation projects and paths that can
experiment new uses and functions to
spontaneously reintroduce the rehabilitated
places into the urban cycle.
3.2Towardsaregenerationplatform
Although to a minor extent, another mission of
museums is the re-activation (and/or
diversification) of the economy of the cities that
host them (Plaza and Haarich, 2009). In the case of
INLOCO, this task is pivotal, since it is linked to the
objective of involving local communities, artists,
city-makers, local governments and other
important actors for generating temporary
reactivation projects and paths that can
experiment prototype of effective cultural and
economic re-activators. In this respect, INLOCO
works as a regeneration platform that can help
citizens in defining temporary uses of abandoned
spaces, organizing self-building activities and
collaborating with public institutions for legally
carrying out these activities. Through the museum,
local communities are thus activly involved not
only in raising awarness of the potential of their
local heritage but also in taking care of them by
driving them to become active member of their
preservation.
Fig.9:The former Spinadello Acqueduct
and its reuse as information center
The adaptive temporary reuse of former
Spinadello Aqueduct, which is part of Itinerary4
TOTALLYTERRAE, is a first output of the platform.
After being closed and abandoned for years, this
place is now re-opened as information center and
starting point to visit and explore the ecological
conservation area around it (Fig. 9). This
important achievement is the result of a process
that has started from the events and activities
which were part of the participatory museum
development p lan for t his spec ific sit e: throu gh the
involvement of the local community, it has been
gradually raised awareness on the importance to
(2020), n. 2
S.Proli,F.Tortori
168
take actions to protect the whole area and to
recognize the value of this neglected heritage (the
Aqueduct stopped functioning in 1986).
Furthermore, thanks to the support of the public
realm, it has been possible to create a strategic
shared vision for integrating forms of protection,
enhancement and development of the abandoned
place with the improvement of the cultural,
environmental, social and economic resources of
the area.
At present the project, that involve partners at
all scales (from the Cultural Heritage Institute of
the Region Emilia-Romagna, to the Local
Municipality, to associations like SpaziIndecisi)
propose a 12-months calendar of events
including exhibitions, workshops, guided tour and
trekking, birdwatching, concerts and other
cultural activities. The most ambitious goal is to
experiment a bottom-up participatory
management system that involve local
associations and active citizens with professionals
(photographers, hiking guides etc.) in order to
protect the park and its wildlife, to create work
opportunities and thus to contribute to the
economic development of the area and its
neighbourhood.
4. ThroughgE.CO,towardsaMuseumof
GenerativeCommons
Generative commons represent the places
where a new generation of social innovators and
makers is inventing new jobs and an alternative
economic circuits, inspired by an innovative set of
values (ecological sustainability, solidarity and
connection with the territory). Collaboration, co-
production and co-creation are thus becoming the
keywords for supporting cities' capacity for
transition and structural change to ensure urban
economies and a socially, environmentally and
territorially sustainable development of urban
areas (European Commission, 2016); this is why
public institutions are signing a new social pact
with their citizens, asking them to become active
and aware players in the regeneration of derelict
urban space (Iaione, 2016, Patti & Polyak, 2017).
Thanks to the commons, public institutions can
assess experimental, adaptive, iterative
governance and legal tools for including citizens-
led actions among the ‘official’ urban regeneration
strategies, by testing diverse types of collaboration
5
gE.COLivingLab aims at creating an exchange platform for
formal groups or informal communities of citizens who
agreements which range from very simple forms
(e.g. taking care of a small public area); to more
complex and generative commons, like the re-
functionalization of disused or unfinished spaces
through a change of use, or a conversion process.
In the best cases, these forms of civic engagement
can also generate new opportunities for work and
welfare, achieving an inclusive effect and pattern
of redistribution in favor of economically weaker
sectors of the population (Mattei & Quarta, 2018).
With the belief that the organization of
generative commons must be supported and
promoted as one of the best strategies to face the
future challenges, due to their capacity to create
local economic growth throughout solidarity,
proximity and the social valorisation of existing
asse t, among its vari ous obje ctives t he EU res earch
funded project gE.CO5 has been designed with the
aim of bringing together generative commons
using a digital platform for collaboration. Started
in 2019, the project is developing a platform for
mapping citizens’ initiatives as well as those public
institutions engaged in new forms of partnership
with local communities and is promoting the
exchange of good practices and legal
solutions. Furthermore, gE.CO is evaluating a
group of pilot cases composed by generative
commons and municipalities in order to
understand which socio-economic, cultural and
legal factors make self-organized experiences
sustainable and public institutions helpful for their
development. The results of the evaluation will be
used for scaling up sustainable generative
commons and innovative local policies: best
practices, recommendations for scaling
experiences of generative commons as well as
legal solutions will be developed for supporting
the emergence of new generative commons
through shared, public and open access contents.
With regard to this objective, one of the main
output of the project will be the Widespread
MuseumofGenerativeCommons (WMGC). The
WMGC will be used to communicate the stories of
generative commons and the possibilities that
they are able to create for the community engaged
in their management as well as for the whole
urban environment.
Conceived as an instrument of knowledge,
conservation, communication and enhancement of
the territory, capable of triggering processes of
active reading, of participation and, finally, of
manage fab-lab, hubs, incubators, co-creation spaces, social
centres created in regenerated urban voids.
(2020), n. 2 Thepotentialofneglectedplaces.
169
regeneration, the WMGC is currently under
development starting from SpaziIndecisi’s project
INLOCO and its WidespreadMuseumofthe
Abandonment.Similarly to the approach tested by
IN LOCO, the WMGC will be structured on the
following phases:
1. Mapping. The first phase is to collect and
catalogue as much information about these
sites as possible (geolocation and its urban
connection to the building and spaces around;
photographs collected by public calls;
property; historical information; witnesses),
an d to comm unic ate it, a s a mu seu m doe s wi th
its heritage;
2. Itinerariesdefinition. Generative commons
have something to say about the social,
cultural and economic aspects of the local
territory in which they are based and they can
reflect its changes in time. When a generative
commons shares one or more specific features
with some others, this place becomes part of
the museum itinerary;
3. Analternativeguidetogenerativecommons.
Itineraries will be collected in an alternative
and constantly evolving guide that walks
along with a series of multimedia contents
specifically created for WMGC, in
collaboration with artists, photographers,
musicians, actors and cultural local realities.
Moreover, close to the generative commons, a
geolocalization system based on QR code tags
will unlock special contents that the visitor
can only access on-site, by using a
smartphone.
Incremental, small-scale urban regeneration
practices in the form of urban commoning
complements traditional planning processes to
create a more sustainable city by challenging ‘one-
size-fits-all’ solutions in favour of tailored
regulatory responses to specific needs (Smorto
2016). However, even if the topic of urban
regeneration through adaptive and temporary
uses is gaining high interest in urban planning
theory and practice, it is still rather new if
compared to other planning approaches: many
municipalities are thus still not familiar with
temporariness in urban redevelopment because
more used to ‘implementing’ rather than to
‘testing’ (Silva, 2016). In this respect, the WMGC is
expected to give a significative contribution in
building a unique platform in which citizens and
public institution can find concentrated all the
expertises and the tools necessary, at first, to
gather useful information on commoning practices
and projects, secondly to start commoning or
promoting new public-civic partnerships.
5. Conclusion
Urban heritage, including its tangible and
intangible components, constitutes a key resource
in enhancing the liveability of urban areas and in
fostering economic development and social
cohesion in a changing global environment
(Unesco, 2011). As the future of humanity hinges
on the effective planning and management of
resources, the regeneration and reuse of
abandoned places has become a key-strategy to
achieve a balance between urban growth and
sustainable development goals.
The case-study presented and discussed in the
article, INLOCO, suggests that the regeneration for
cultural purpose of unused or abandoned places
allows to achieve a double objective: on the one
hand the collective conservation and preservation
of urban values under risk and, on the other hand,
the inclusive, sustainable and innovation-driven
development of urban and rural areas.
Furthermore, the case-study indicates that the
regeneration of abandoned places has to be
understood as a collective and participatory
process, with diverse and temporary steps
towards potential final solutions. In this process
the “generative common model”, based on
horizontal forms of cooperation between public
institutions and formal groups or informal
communities of citizen, quest for new standards of
cultural heritage regeneration through multi-level
governance and tools of collaboration, both
vertical and horizontal, with governmental and
non-governmental actors. A hybrid approach of
different actors involvement (public, private and
civil), and of different innovation tools (adaptive
temporary reuse, cultural valorization) seems to
offer a concrete solution for the regeneration of
the cultural heritage and, more generally, of the
urban and rural environment.
However, as EU funding research projects
gE.CO points out, to guarantee that our cities
continue to offer sufficient room for experiments,
the challenge is, for governments, to give the right
legal and political support to temporary reuse
experiences and, for commoners, to find a much
more cohesive language for defining their way of
working, the value it creates and the
(2020), n. 2
S.Proli,F.Tortori
170
organisational systems they use (Bingham-Hall,
2016).
During the last years, public Institutions have
started to recognized the value of these
experiments in creating new knowledge and ideas
and transforming them into social and economic
development, by promoting and supporting
citizens’ initiatives with new regulatory
instruments and new forms of public-civic
partnerships (Foster and Iaione, 2016).
Nevertheless, the risk is that by co-opting citizens’
initiatives, their transformative potentiality
decreases. In this respect, the value of projects like
INLOCO is the possibility to test innovative legal
tools and institutional structures in order to better
link the phenomena of urban commons and
communities-driven initiatives to the planning and
administrative routine of our cities.
(2020), n. 2 Thepotentialofneglectedplaces.
171
R
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