University of Florence

Nov 17, 2021

3 min read

Matera: city of nature, city of culture, city of regeneration. Towards a landscape-based and culture-based urban circular economy

From Firenze University Press Journal: Aestimum

Luigi Fusco Girard, Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development, National Research Council, Italy (IRISS — CNR)

Francesca Nocca, University of Naples “Federico II”, Department of Architecture

Antonia Gravagnuolo, Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development, National Research Council, Italy (IRISS — CNR)

Each city is a living organism (Geddes, 1915) and it has (like all living organ-isms) its own dynamics. Cities born, grow, stabilize, become “stagnant”, decline, and die.Being as a living system, that is a complex dynamic and adaptive system, they are capable of self-organization/self-management. They are subject to differ-ent forces: economic, social, political, cultural forces, etc. Their combination deter-mines the “fate” of the city, in generating feedback processes in which “virtuous” ones intertwine with “vicious” ones.In general, in the urban transformation processes a part of the pattern of the city remains unchanged (permanence) over time (as the historical center) when other parts are subject to significant changes.

The historical center represents the memory of the urban system, its specific identity. Conserving/valorizing the historic center means taking care of the collective memory of the city system.There are many causes of the decline of cities: population aging, poverty, un-employment, lack of attractive capacity, degradation of building and infrastructure assets, decline in production activities, catastrophic events, poor sanitary conditions. Each of these causes interdepends on the others in continuous retroactive processes.Once declining processes are activated, vicious circuits are triggered that, from the environmental level, affect, for example, the social and then the economic one (and so on), accelerating the process of degradation itself.

How to stop, or delay, or reverse these decline processes? How to face the in-creasing accelerated entropy?The general proposal of this paper refers to a key word: “regeneration” as a revitalization of the activities in the perspective of the circular economy/city. Circular economy/city can attract circle virtuous processes.The aim of this paper is to explore, in particular, how an urban circular economy can be implemented through a cultural landscape-based approach, analysing the case study of Matera (Italy) recognized as European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2019, and assuming interdependence/relationship between a specific landscape and the circular economy/city models: these models reshape the profile of the landscape.The characters of Matera is here identified according to the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape approach (UNESCO, 2011) and its Complex Social Value (CSV: the use values and the intrinsic value) (Fusco Girard, 1987; Fusco Girard and Nijkamp, 1997).

The Complex Social Value, usually applied in cultural heritage studies, integrates the concept of Total Economic Value including the “intrinsic” component, a non-economic value that is recognized by the community as a “permanent value” during the long time. The maximization of the search of the more satisfying compromise between “intrinsic value” and many use values of the landscape can be identified as the final goal of an urban circular economy. In this perspective, relevant business and social initiatives in Matera have been explored, which integrate economic viability with landscape regeneration and the realization of positive social, environmental and cultural impacts, with all resulting impacts in terms of localization capacity and attractiveness for new activities.After the analysis of the circular economy/city concept and the landscape approach (§2), the city of Matera and its historic, cultural and natural values are described and examined (§3) in order to guide the choice among different alter-native strategic projects for the regeneration of the city (§4), necessarily assessed by an integrated evaluation approach (§5). Then, “enabling factors” for the Mat-era system regeneration and conservation, and in general for the regeneration of the cities, as the participation of local community (§6), new business and financial models (§7) and culture (§8) are analysed.


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