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BUDDcamp2015: Urban Space 4 – Via Saffi

GiuliaCarabelli27 February 2015

URBAN SPACE 4: LDA Via Saffi

This space, the historic building of the Municipality of Brescia, is the City of Brescia’s refugee front desk, and now home to one of the welcome and shelter projects managed by the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici.

It is located near Brescia train station, under an overpass, but apart from this physical centrality it is quite marginal and difficult to access. Being traditionally seen as the first “port of entry” in the city for refugees and migrants, it has been under fierce attack by anti-immigration individuals and small groups – who in protest have thrown eggs and food against the premises, for example.

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Social Visibility

The structure is large but only partially used. It is poorly connected with the surroundings, although it remains very visible in terms of its “social role” (perhaps a territorial stigma?) due to the fact that migrants and refugees often gather outside.

Students were asked to propose strategies that could improve the visibility and usability of the space and, due to its social significance, how to better connect it with the vicinity and stimulate integration within a diverse community.

The Identity of the ‘Unknown’

Christian: “despite the barriers of the language and the possible misgivings of our first meeting, we had the opportunity to talk to some of the refugees attending the programmes in this building. Their stories made us wonder about the deep motivations that exist in encouraging people leave their homes towards the unknown.”

“Despite the differences in detail of their histories, they all talked about arriving in the city as people invisible, vulnerable and unknown. Paradoxically, and even without wishing it, these invisible individualities that silently scattered throughout the city have started to be recognizable as a specific group composed of ‘unknowns’ and, therefore, as an ideal group to mystify.”

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Art for Urban Transformation

Vishakha explains: “we proposed to place a white flag outside the building as a symbol of neutrality and peace. It was a simple, light yet powerful step towards making the space more visible and at the same time redefining the nature of that space. We propose using art as a tool to transform progressively the neglected unsafe spaces around the site in an attempt to make it both more visible and more inviting.”

“These changing perceptions in the design methodology, and our thoughts, became a part of not just foreseeing change but also as a means of grounding the proposal in reality.”

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Repositioning the Area

The group’s strategy addressed the visibility and perception of the area by means of artistic interventions; the first, most simple, and extremely poetic intervention is to mount a large, white flag outside of the office to provide a clear visual signal of where the office is. The white flag will stand for the Embassy of All People, echoing the name and vision of LDA.

The second intervention sees the participation of local artists and art students in painting the wall of the uninviting space around the office. This could transform it into a more welcoming place that can attract people to the area, offering them the opportunity to learn about the activities promoted by LDA for refugees and migrants.


Giulia Carabelli is the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the MSc BUDD programme. She joined the current MSc students on the BUDDcamp in February. You can read here provious posts from the BUDDcamp on this blog: Urban Spcae 1 – Flero; Urban Space 2 – Caffaro; Urban Space 3 – UISP Headquarters.

The BUDDCamp is a 3-day design workshop, part of the MSc Building and Urban Design for Development’s Urban Intervention Studio where students bring together theory and practice by working on the proposal of innovative design strategies for specific urban issues. For the fifth time, the BUDDCamp took place in Brescia (Italy) in collaboration with the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici, an organization working with refugees and asylum seekers in the city.

BUDDcamp 2015: Urban Space 3 – UISP Headquarters

GiuliaCarabelli26 February 2015

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URBAN SPACE 3: UISP (Unione Italiana Sport per Tutti) Headquarters

UISP (Unione Italiana Sport per Tutti) is an association that promotes the right for all citizens to practice sport as a means to a healthier and better life.

The headquarters of the association is not far from the city centre, yet it struggles to become visible in the existing urban dynamics. The MSc BUDD students who were working in this area were asked to formulate a strategy that could make this place more open and attractive to the population at large.

They were also asked to think about how refugees could become more active in the centre thus exploring the possibility for this place to promote integration among all the citizens of Brescia.

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David: “The prospect was very exciting as sport and games are a natural catalyst for interaction for all; many of the activities UISP are running have proven this (through successful work in women’s prisons and with drug addicts). Our task was to tap in to this ‘common ground’ that sports and games frequently served as, which after discussion and research we concluded could be food.”

The group continues: “We proposed a sagra; (a food festival) a community event in which refugees and local citizens could both participate and express themselves through the medium of food. The refugees could share recipes from their original countries creating a special menu with the assistance of UISP and our partners, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici, for the event. This event could be organised monthly to attract a different range of citizens and refugees who will have the opportunity to discover the great and diverse programmes offered by UISP.”

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This catalytic event, the sagra, can connect people, trigger curiosity and participation while sharing different identities and cultures by means of ‘sensory routes’ (smells and sounds). The proposal is particularly attentive to design a strategy that could involve the refugees in the planning and delivery of the activities.


Giulia Carabelli is the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the MSc BUDD programme. She joined the current MSc students on the BUDDcamp in February. The final post reflecting on the BUDDcamp 2015 is now also online.

The BUDDCamp is a 3-day design workshop, part of the MSc Building and Urban Design for Development’s Urban Intervention Studio where students bring together theory and practice by working on the proposal of innovative design strategies for specific urban issues. For the fifth time, the BUDDCamp took place in Brescia (Italy) in collaboration with the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici, an organization working with refugees and asylum seekers in the city.