Eternal Rebirth: The Difficult Development of Urban Identity Between Destruction, Reconstruction and New Formal Layouts – The Case of Argenta (Ferrara, Italy)

    • Lucca November 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Enrico Pietrogrande, University of Padua, Italy
      • Andreina Milan, Department of Architecture, University of Bologna, Italy


    More than seven decades after the end of the Second World War and after a decade-long economic crisis, the urban landscape of small and medium-sized cities in Italy faces a difficult economic situation, full of uncertainties and profound changes in the social, economic and cultural framework. The depletion of the countryside, the aging of the resident population and the rarefaction of the new generations (with scarce employment opportunities, mass immigration and migratory phenomena) have led to a fragile situation for the cities of the Po Valley. The purpose of the paper is to draw critical assessments on regeneration and urban development phenomena that have addressed post-war reconstruction in agro-industrial contexts. In this sense, formal and identifying characteristics emerge of a community that boasts settlement continuity dating back millennia. The case study refers to the city of Argenta located in the territory of Ferrara. The particular settlement conditions – alongside the ancient branch of the Po River – define what was once an essential inland navigation node. Argenta was destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its very long history, thanks to the willful roots of the population: after the destruction from the war in April 1945 the city was rebuilt in a very short time, and it resumed its daily life despite the wounds. A turbulent rebirth only allowed for fragments the re-composition of the settlement and monumental heritage of great value. With its dreary and mediocre architectural style, today the town is nevertheless dotted with examples and buildings of a certain quality: rethinking and reviewing the links, the fragments, the traces of a broken history reveals a possible path for a new vitality in the Third Millennium.