In the publication of 1977 IL9, Frei Otto theorized that, “the process of development of the forms of development of the forms of both living nature and technology are, in principles, closely related. […] From this point of view, it is possible to describe the most important forms of technological objects and living nature in the sequence in which new constructional elements appear”, and below defined six types of growth: addition, edge growth, ejections, budding, moult and growth of bones. This six growths start from a basic element, as a cell could be, reaching complex structures.
Thinking about architecture, phenomena of growth are particularly linked to spontaneous architecture, which change its shape during time, adapting to housing needs. Moreover, as also Bernard Rudofsky supported in his publication Architecture without Architects, spontaneous architecture is, “a communal art, not produced by a few intellectual or specialist but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of a whole people with a common heritage, acting a community of experience”. That is why un-pedigreed architecture is a good field of investigation to test the Frei Otto’s theory: it is not contaminated by rational schemes and it has naturally evolved over time.
I took as specimen a valley of the Appennini mountains: here architecture has had to develop adapting to morphology, so that the natural growth features are more visible than a comfortable colonization specimen, where rational schemes could be always be included.
I sorted architecture of the area’s growth types according to the six typologies described by Frei Otto and to the variations created by the morphology, in order to identify the local scheme of growth starting from the basic local module of the stone house with pitched roof. By the fact that most of the spontaneous heritage is now abandoned since long time and in a state of ruin because of migration to cities, the basic architectural cell doesn’t fit well the needs of contemporary life. At the same time, those ruins are a part of the valley’s heritage that has to be preserved as also a fundamental element of the astonishing valley’s landscape.
The next step was then to bring up-to-date the historical growth scheme, working on a new basic cell that could fit modern requirements, adapt to the historical growth scheme and respect the forms of the local landscape.
Developing this kind of solution helps to create an instrument to recolonize the abandoned sites following the paths of the site’s history. If an homogeneous redistribution of the population would be a solution to overpopulation and urban sprawl, we should redistribute respecting the soul of the place, its landscape and its architecture, and even improve it with respect, adapting it to our new requirements.