From January 22-24 seven architecture students from RWU currently enrolled the Architecture Program of The Institute at Palazzo Rucellai -- Samantha Kornblit, Matt Jesi, Gerrit Platel, Nick Baldasarre, Matt Pegolo, Dan Brzycki and Nathan Bonaiuto – together with Arch. Franco Pisani, professor in the architecture program, participated in a symposium and workshop sponsored by the Bruno Zevi Foundation in collaboration with the Facoltà di Architettura “Valle Giulia” of the Università di Roma La Sapienza and AACUPI (the Association of American College and University Programs in Italy). The title of the workshop was "For a Frugal Approach in Architecture".
The three-day schedule was intended to make students aware of the many possibilities of a frugal architecture which focuses on residual spaces and sources, makes the best use of natural and local materials, and recycles what can be salvaged: an architecture of under-consumption rather than over-consumption. Students were introduced to the great potential inherent in planning buildings to be constructed using leftover materials, and with limited resources and budgets, and which also have positive social significance.
The workshop included Americans students from Roger Williams University, Iowa state University, and Northeastern University, together with Italian students from the school of architecture “Valle Giulia” - Università di Roma "la Sapienza" - collaborating side by side, in pairs, on a design assignment.
With the help of international guest architects from Santiago Cirugeda’s Recetas Urbanas (Spain), Giorgio Goffi (Italy), Jorge Mario Jauregui (Brasil), Nina Maritz (Namibia), Eko Prawoto (Indonesia), Danny Wicke of Rural Studio (USA), and Sarah Wigglesworth (UK), students worked on the design of an emergency unit whose purpose was to meet the housing needs of those left homeless in L'Aquila after the earthquake last April.
In modern Western society today the principles of frugality, sustainability, under-consumption and eco-compatibility are at the base of a new culture of ethical and responsible development that is re-directing research in the fields of architecture, design and the arts. Solutions to issues of building and production at accessible costs, with limited wasting of resources and the recycling of available materials, are entirely new scenarios and are opening the doors to new markets. Frugal architecture is an international phenomenon, though not yet globalised. It does not aim to reproduce on a world scale a single, hegemonous model, but defers to locally available resources and the needs of the community.