Different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, writes Italo Calvino, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication among themselves. At time even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voices’ accent, and also the features of the faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place. It is pointless to ask whether the new gods are better or worse than the old, since there is no connection between them… We recommend you another Italian documentary movie: Edoardo Morabito and Irma Vecchio’s I fantasmi di San Berillo (2013), first prize at Torino Film Festival. The demolition of this old neighbourhood in the centre of Catania (Sicily), in 1958, was the biggest urban evisceration in post-war Italy, linked (as everything in the country) with Vatican’s Società Generale Immobiliare: 30.000 people where displaced towards the peripheries. It was the same year in which brothels were banned: prostitutes were forced to work underground, and what was left of San Berillo turned into one of the biggest “red light districts” of the Mediterranean. So the story of the neighbourhood went on for another half century, until 2001, when a new police operation evicted again prostitutes and transvestites from their houses and streets. Today many plots are still unoccupied, and some became new favelas (see this 2012 video). The documentary shifts visually from past to present, and the images are associated with the fascinating words of writer Goliarda Sapienza, born in San Berillo in 1924.
The activists of URBZ collective (of which we wrote in a previous post) are promoting a crowdfunding campaign to develop a plot of land in the neighbourhood of Bhandup in the northwestern suburbs of Mumbai. Their intention is to build there an affordable house, compatible with local construction styles: “homegrown“, and produced in collaboration with local constructors. The house will be sold at reasonable conditions to residents, thus providing the funds for a new project. The idea is to contribute to develop better life conditions for the residents of the so-called “slums”, without depending on international aid or having to rely on NGOs. This homegrown development works against the logic of the big eviction and relocation projects promoted by the state: as happened too often, these top-down projects end up eradicating the population and forcing them into vertical housing blocks, which represent the degree zero of architectural, urban and social thinking, and have been responsible for countless man-made urban disasters in poor and rich countries alike.
- Homegrown cities project en Urbz.net
- Join Homegrown cities crowdfunding on indiegogo
- Airoots/Eirut, Matias Echanove and Raoul Srivastava‘s blog
- Interview with Amar Mirjankar, a local contractor the activists are working with [video].
- Documentación sobre la forma local de construir viviendas baratas: video, y artículo “The 2,5 lakh rupee house” en Urbz.net
- Video of the eviction of Tor di Quinto settlement in summer 2012; Photos; Description :: Video Rom a Roma da vicolo Savini alla Pontina 1 - 2
- Fernando SALSANO (2007) The guts of Rome. PhD thesis on the monumentalization of the center and the birth of borgate during fascism.
- In august 2012 urbanist Italo INSOLERA died in Rome; together with Antonio Cederna, they were among the few authoritative fueron voices that kept denouncing those they called "enemies of the human race": real estate speculators. A commentary in Eddyburg, the best webpage on cities and urban transformation in Italy.
- Ekümenopolis: Ucu Olmayan Şehir (Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits) (2011) a movie by Imre Azem, will be in Barcelona on november 15th, 8pm at Traslaciones festival in CCCB. Director Imre Azem will participate in the debate Istanbul relatos fuera de campo on wednesday 16th at 7:30pm. [Trailer1] [Trailer2] [Web]
On summer nights, in the center of Larache (a port on the Atlantic, 80km south of Tanger) stroll all moroccans that came back from Europe on vacations. New cars, european clothes, overconfident attitudes: almost every family of the city has some relative in Spain, England, Belgium, France, Netherlands. In Larache, fish abounds, vegetables are cheap, and housing is affordable. It was here that the first experience of public housing in Morocco took place in the 20s: the neighborhood of Kalleto (Hay Jadid, New neighborhood), built for slum dwellers and migrants from aroubía, rural areas. For its inhabitants, each fight, every bad night, is felt as a shame, for it reminds them they are not in Europe, where everything is perfect: as the shikis (stuck up) of the center seem to assert, parading their pretended wealth.
Four photos of Montjuïc mountain, when there still were people living on it. Even if for history it was only “slums”, many of them remember houses, written records, roads and street numbers. These photos come from private collections of former residents of “Eduardo Aunós” neighborhood. The old slum dwellers, almost all of them from Murcia or Andalusia, had to leave their houses in the 1920s, because of the celebration of an Universal Exposition. They were relocated in the Casas Baratas, but then their sons and nephews were evicted again at the end of the century. The need for land hit again those immigrant families; and it doesn’t matter how many generation they had been living in their “welcoming land”.…
“Esteve Lucerón (Pobla de Segur, 1950), photographer, portrayed the gypsy settlement of La Perona for 10 years, from 1980 until its demolition. His photos are strongly influenced by the american reporters who worked on the Great Depression of 1929, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Lewis Hine, especially in the relationship towards the people he portrayed: empathy, self control, he never manipulates his subjects to stress the drama, never breaks the intimacy, doesn’t steal poverty. He doesn’t either have a sweetened merciful attitude: there’s social critique, it’s an anthropological document, historically valuable, since these settlements belong to a time of economical prosperity in Spain, when real estate speculation and conflicts among “lineages” or subgroups of gypsies burst, as the City Council decided to relocate – transfer/deport – some groups from an area to another with no regard except for the number of people. Lucerón gives a personal view of it, with a special attention towards children, and towards gypsy’s typical sense of humor, naughty and defiant“. Froum María José Furio‘s review on her blog. Some photos: 
- Esteve Lucerón. La Perona (1985-1989). Agenda de la Imatge n. 56 (2010). Xavier Camino and Pili Díaz Giner wrote the text, and Jordi Gratacós, secretary of UPIFC, made the laboratory work on the photo negatives. [Exposition announced in UPIFC webpage]