H/C: Harbour for Cultures

TriesteContemporanea Biennial 2018

"un porto di culture"

 This project, completed as an entry for TriesteContemporanea's 2018 competition, aims to design a temporary structure based on the need for human relations and their social contexts. The goal of the project is to create ways to interact with the existing programatic and experiential map of Trieste’s Porto Vecchio (old harbor) by designing an original and innovative object, or a temporary structure made from sustainable materials. The proposed project has to be led by one or more of the following principles: be relational, interactive, inclusive, of collective interest, able to gather people, able to produce engagement.  

Contemporary political and social movements in the European Union, vastly experienced through traditional and new forms of media, have caused people to react with sentiments of fear and anger towards cultural signs of “otherness,” which are often used as a propaganda tool in nationalist contexts.
Within Italy’s current political and social contexts, “otherness” is used to spearhead the conversation revolving around illegal immigrants which reach shorelines when fleeing their countries of origin because of economic or social concerns. The phrase “chiudiamo i porti!” (let’s close [our] harbors) has been reiterated throughout the Summer of 2018, and has caused many Italian citizens to blindly ignore or not understand the underlying issues of the migratory crisis happening in the Mediterranean.
Using the migration crisis that Italy is experiencing as a springboard, but broadening its scope of action, (co)-dep aims, through the realization of a temporary structure, to create a space of cultural dialogue and exchange within the area of Trieste’s Porto Vecchio, which has historically been a place of acceptance of others (for instance with Joseph II’s 1781 Edict of Tolerance) as well as a thriving economical hub connecting the center of Europe to the rest of the World (for example, being Italy's main harbor receiving cargos of coffee from Brazil.)
(co)-dep is a transitional space, just like a harbor, and wants to promote “listening” over “hearing” as well as enable people to abandon the confusion of daily life to be able to interact with individuals whom they’ve never met before. The pavilion, formally inspired by the historical industrial buildings of the Porto Vecchio, relies on the Italian architectural concept of the “corte” (courtyard) to create a space of dialogue which is accessed from two adjacent “listening” rooms (or dependences). People are invited to enter the structure and, two at a time, inhabit the central “courtyard” area, to openly talk about anything they wish to discuss. A tree, placed in the middle of the pavilion, and representative of life and growth, obscures the faces of those in dialogue. Two metal cones, connected to metal pipes which run under the structure, pick up the conversation of those in the “courtyard” and relay it back to the “listening rooms,” however, allowing those in these spaces to only hear the voice of the person whom they did not see walking into the discussion area. Ultimately empowering people to develop a strategy to discuss challenging and culturally sensitive topics, this poetic and almost surreal “demi-dialogue” situation aims to provoke critical and individual thinking in people, whom will be exposed to a series of narratives from people’s lives that they may have never experienced before. Also, the project aims to allow people to become more risk-taking and engaged with issues of cultural competence, ultimately redefining the meaning of “culture” and rekindling the flame of wanting to know more about those whom are instinctively labelled as “other” or “different.”