Interviews with local people, September - December 2015
We make certain assumptions about important places in a city - typically those of historical value, such as the places defined by UNESCO - but there is an alternative significance identified by the local population. For them, buildings have a much more important value which is about memory, told by their stories: ‘this is where I met my wife’; ‘we always came here to have lunch’; ‘I bought my first pair of shoes in that shop.’ These stories can be as significant to local inhabitants as defined historical value, because nobody has the same story and yet everyone can relate to them.
The thesis will argue for a new method for L’Aquila’s reconstruction based on its places of significance as reflected in terms of what has been preserved both physically, and in the memories of the citizens. Disaster disrupts the everyday and continuity of life, therefore many spaces of significance will be contained only within the memories of the citizens. Learning from past ideas and memories of a population is a useful tool to rebuilding, which recognises that heritage and history are constructed in the present.
Over a period of several months I have been conducting interviews with the local Aquilani. The primary aim for this element of the research was to gather memories and stories about L'Aquila pre-quake and make comparisons to post-quake experiences. I have endeavoured to interview people from a range of different backgrounds, with various professions and ages, the main criteria being that these people are either Aquilani or knew the city well both pre- and post-earthquake. In this first stage of information gathering, I have formally interviewed twelve people and had informal conversations with many more local people. I have also used this blog and the L'Aquila Forum poster presentations as methods of gathering stories.
The architectural design proposal will employ these disconnected memories and ideas of the local people through architecture, to evoke sensations of significant places. Formal interviews and informal conversations have been conducted with the local people, and coupled with basic observations about the city, their fragmented memories will become a physical palette of forms - materials and spaces - which will be used for reconstructing the city centre in a contemporary way that also subtly reflects conditions familiar to the local people.
Initial responses to interviews to create a preliminary 'palette'