• Ahmed Abdelsalam

Battlescape, Turning a Landscape Conflict into Opportunity

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

1. Name of the project: Battlescape, Turning a Landscape Conflict into Opportunity

2. Location (area, city, country): Lecce, Apulia Region, Italy

3. Brief/project details/caption:

Project Statement:

The steady abuse of the coastal areas of Lecce during the past 50-70 years, marked by the rapid increase of unauthorized buildings and road network, and the misuse of the natural elements (water bodies, sand dunes, wetlands...etc), has robbed the area of its value throughout time, turning it to an uninhabited and defenceless wasteland.

The area once known for its extensive agriculture and the existence of some of the oldest olive groves, is now regressing everyday away from the shoreline, due to the loss of soil value and nutrients crucial for such an agricultural growth.

Nonetheless, such an expansion of the urban built environment cannot simply be taken back or removed, nor can it be overlooked. Such an expansion has to be addressed, it has to be consciously targeted with a socially responsible design intent. This historical unauthorized expansion has been benign for some time, but not anymore. This abuse of the land and of the natural environment has lead to the decay of the existing fabric of natural systems, extending to the intruding urban settlements.

The proposed topic of research and design is to study the limits of the clashing forces of nature and man-made expansions within a politically and socially acceptable framework. Trying to reach an area neutral enough to allow for the restoration of natural cycles, while subtly controlling the expansion of the built environment. In short, this approach creates a separation of different areas where the natural and the built systems are clearly segregated with an intermediate zone that falls under neither of the two systems (Fringe).

The area of interest for the general research shall be the whole extension of the coast of Lecce, where the extent of damage and the progress of urban expansion can be mapped, while showing areas with natural capabilities and potential of restoring the natural cycles and urban settlement consolidation zones. For project (design) purposes, the areas starting from Torre Rinalda, passing by Spiaggiabella till Torre Chianca will be the main focus, where the initiation of the proposed design concept can be shown as a prototype solution for the problem. This particular focus is selected for the extent of damage it has reached. The proposed design can hopefully be sophisticated enough to be applied along the whole coast of Lecce. The project represents a small step in the pursuit of creating more resilient urban-tolerant coastal settlements along the eastern coastline of Apulia region.

4. Instagram id (individual):

@ahmednasr_d (individual thesis work)

Thesis Advisors: Prof. Federico Zanfi (@federicozanfi), Prof. Paolo Bozzuto & Arch. Paola Elena Maghenzani (@pamaghe)