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SeedHouses

Three Examples for a Mindset Change

Laboratorio di Architettura Semerano/Toti Semerano

SeedHouses
By Redazione The Plan -

Located in a former tobacco factory in the countryside of Lecce, in southern Italy, the Laboratorio di Architettura Semerano is a powerhouse of ideas. Standing amid open fields of wheat and sunflowers, this converted industrial building - complete with an orange grove in a central court - is home to a group of young students, professionals and operators from diverse nations but with a single aim: to create quality architecture and, as Semerano puts it, “produce culture at the periphery of the Empire”. Founded in 2005 by Toti Semerano, the Laboratorio is an incubator of ideas, abuzz with a palpable energy like the artists’ workshops of the Renaissance. Toti Semerano is not just an architect. He is a theoretician of architecture, but one who puts theories to the practical test. Research, quality and experimentation are his starting points to tackle a major concern: the remediation of Italy’s devastated landscape. Equally important, every requalification project must be unique and non-replicable for the simple reason that it must comply with the specifics of place. His approach to the three different projects described here was, as he puts it, to “listen to the landscape with a silent mind”. Called SeedHouses, these projects take up the challenge of mending a fragmented context, doing something about those segments of land that often get neglected by architects, a responsibility, he says, that requires humility. The three isolated projects are small seeds he hopes will start a quality turnaround. The silent, unobtrusive yet very real presence of the three new residences will, it is hoped, generate new thinking, sowing the seed of doubt and showing that quality architecture can be achieved, even in Italy, and that there is an alternative to today’s inertia even in the most unlikely places. For Semerano, these three small seeds are just a start. They could blossom into thriving, well-rooted plants, triggering a process of...

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