Bethan May Watson
Research Area: New L'Aquila - Reactivating L'Aquila's centro storico using education as an urban catalyst.
Following a devastating earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy in 2009 many medieval towns in the area have been left as abandoned ruins. The capital of the region, L’Aquila, also suffered post-earthquake inflictions as ‘temporary’ housing was unsuitably located far from the historic town centre with insufficient infrastructural support. The displacement of the inhabitants has led to a significant decline in the population of the medieval centre, leaving empty buildings to fall into disrepair.
To engender a return to the city centre - vital for its own preservation - the city would once again engage with its history. The project describes a growing metabolism stemming from the introduction of new strands of the University of L’Aquila into the centre of the city. The University acts as a catalyst for economic expansion and shared activity, forming an urban spine through the city which combines restored and new structures. The intervention aims to draw people back from the city’s periphery by activating the abandoned space of the centro storico to create a shared centre for international learning and research, that in turn may encourage city-wide regeneration.