Rebuilding the Edge

Ginevra D’Agostino 

Miho Mazereeuw

Caitlin Mueller
Sheila Kennedy

Rebuilding the Edge takes as its point of departure a social reality that directly impacts the built environment: the depopulation of small centers in Italy over the last century and its consequences for citizens, and the country at large. The thesis examines how to look at the depopulation of inner and southern areas of Italy, by exploring the interrelations between three distinct components of architecture: its methodologies of research, its social responsibility and its design process. Rebuilding the Edge investigates how architecture can make a contribution to issues usually tackled by politicians, policymakers, economists and engineers.

This thesis applies GIS mapping and photogrammetric tools to register the rural realities along an abandoned rail line in Central Italy. It interprets available data at the territorial scale, and generates original data more granularly through the use of contemporary technologies. Combined with stakeholder interviews, and policy framework analyses, this sets the stage to generate considerations regarding architecture’s role in this context.

From a disciplinary perspective, the thesis proposes that architecture has a relevant role in the articulation and resolution of larger initiatives that seek to address the challenges faced by towns across Italy. It does not attempt for architecture to act as a ‘savior’, but rather concludes that architecture must operate in the company of other fields with unique forms of expertise.

Rebuilding the Edge employs this research methodology and disciplinary reflections to test the impact that they may have on the design process. The outcome is a proposal for a building and piece of infrastructure that connects with efforts at the regional scale. By offering a carefully considered vision for a train station in one single town on the Italian Apennines, this thesis uses architecture as the last-mile solution that tends to make, or usually break, the success of nation-wide infrastructural investments.