Urban Landscape and Horror Vacui, spectacularity of a distorted perception
Giorgio Verdiani, Dipartimento di Architettura, DIDA
Stéphane Giraudeau, Dipartimento di Architettura, Università degli Studi di Firenze
With the spreading of the New Coronavirus Epidemic event in March 2020 the need for strong safety measures to limit the diffusion of the Virus came out as a mandatory priority for all the people: in be-tween the various measures, two of the most and relevant in the tentative to contain the contagions were the self-isolation, established following a series of specific laws and temporary rules connected to the general lockdown.
The choice for self-isolation was quite mandatory, especially during the first wave of the contagions, first of all, because it was the safer solution while the real entity of the pandemic event was going to be understood and people and institutions/administrations were going to learn how to protect themselves efficiently. Self-isolation was as well a way to have time to equip the whole country, in fact, the second measure, the use of facemasks (named most of the time simply ‘mask’ or ‘little masks’ -mascherine-), turned out to be quite complex, while in Italy, at first, the supply for the masks was quite problematic, with various issues in the delivery (Tarquini, 2020), production (Savelli, 2020), organization and several “black market” and inflated prices (Lombardo, 2020). The story of the pandemic event reconstructed at now started about the end of 2019: from the 31 December 2019, Chinese authorities informed the WHO (World Health Organization) China office of pneumonia cases in Wu-han City, Hubei province, China, with an unknown cause.
After 22 January 2020 WHO confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus2.With the gradual spreading of the epidemic out of China, Italy was at the beginning the most afflicted country, with a rapid diffusion in the Northern part of the national territory and high rates of contagions and deaths. In the period between the beginning of March and May 2020, the following guide-lines of the Italian Ministero della Salute3 defined a series of measures to stem the diffusion of the virus, with the use of masks, accurate cleaning and self-isolation as main personal and collective strategies against the Virus. The COVID-19, the ‘COVID’, soon became a well-known and continuously used word. Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to receive the impact of the virus. Following the Ministerial Decree of the 8th of March 2020, the Italian Government imposed great restrictions, making the whole of Italy a red zone, not only people’s lives changed but also places apparently changed in their nature: deprived of their relationship with people they lost their aggregative, social and practical function.
The state of “Pandemic” was declared on the 12th of March 20204. Pandemic events have affected humanity for a long time, just counting the better documented ones the numbers reveal them-selves in their impressive amounts. The new pandemic arrived on quite specific conditions, after almost one century since the last significant one (the so-called “Spanish Flu” spread-ing worldwide with the main outbreak in 1918–1920) and after various threatening epidemic events that never rose to be a global menace (McMillen, 2016), with an extremely enhanced evolution of technology and medicine in front of any past similar situations (Tufekci, 2021), but also with a very “globalized” world, where people and goods move continuously from anywhere to anywhere and the population is in-creased of almost five times in one century.
In this context, the needs caused by the lockdowns operated as accelerators of certain ongoing processes, like the “online teaching” (Mishra, Gupta, Shree, 2020), the “smart-working”, the “online communities”, the “dematerialization of social relationships” (de Rosa, Mannarini, 2021), the on-line shopping, the online migration of functions and services and the use of “online entertainment” (Koeze, Popper, 2020). In Italy, the first lock-down took place from the 9th of March to the 4th of May 2020, in this period most of the population ob-served quite strictly the rules of self-isolation, remaining in their houses and limiting their activities just to the nearby areas. The uncertainty of the situation at that time, the rigid rules aimed to contain the contagions and the general fear about what was going to be played together in reducing to a minimum the interaction with the world outside. At the moment of the initial lockdown, the scenario about what was going to happen was uncertain, but the effects on the local economy (Ascani, Faggian, Montresor, 2020), the limitation in personal freedom (Jovičić, 2021), the effects on psychological health (Orbach, 2020) and the social crisis (Lupton, Willis, 2021) were announced in a quite clear way.
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