For the first time, the researcher in architecture, urban studies and photographer, Corinna Del Bianco shows the public Archipelago – her photographic journey through the Mediterranean islands, their architecture and cultural identities.
Corinna discussed with Melina Arvaniti-Pollatou about the starting point of Archipelago photographic journey, the correlations between habitation, culture, sea and landscape as well as about the contribution of architecture towards a more sustainable touristic model of development.
Archipelago is a research project that was born in 2018 precisely to document and enhance those aspects that remain, often hidden to tourists, and to provide tools to work on the awareness of inhabitants and travelers and thus lay the groundwork for the preservation of the local cultural identities and landscapes.
The project focuses on the Mediterranean archipelagos and aims to document them by 2068, thus in 50 years’ time. The project was born in 2018 when I had the opportunity to study the sea more deeply while I was training for my sailing license. Sailing allowed me to visit many Mediterranean islands that I had never visited before, and in all seasons. From this, a strong curiosity was born for what was under the surface that was sold to summer tourists, and I began to dig, to document myself. Discovering so much history and wealth which is mostly hidden and neglected made me feel a “moral obligation” to work to enhance it!
There is no single solution, but many. Just think of the houses of the Tuscan Archipelago and the differences they have with the Aeolian typologies.
The project, however, aims to investigate not so much the housing typology, but instead the cultural landscape that is generated and has been developed over time in that context and in which the houses and settlements are inserted, more or less coherently.
The issue is that most of the Mediterranean islands have abandoned their prevailing activity to reconvert to a seasonal monoculture based on the exploitation of natural resources.
The problem is not tourism, but an almost total and completely seasonal conversion of the islands’ activities.
Out of season, the islands are almost uninhabited. Moreover, in most cases, the cultural identity of these islands are not really promoted and safeguarded. For example, museums or places where the history of the islands are celebrated are rare and not well maintained. At this rate, the islands of the Mediterranean, which represent a great richness from a cultural point of view, will be more and more equal and their history will be more and more forgotten.
Tourism is a great opportunity to revive the islands 365 days a year, if managed appropriately. The disciplines of architecture, urban design and planning can play a major role in this revival.
For example, it is possible to design museums and places for tourists interested in discovering the local culture; it is possible to give a new design to spaces so that they can attract different types of travelers who may be interested, for example, in developing projects themselves, in spending hybrid stays of relaxation and work. To do this, it would be necessary to work on the islands’ infrastructure and create a network and opportunities for development.
Facts & Credits
Project title Archipelago
Typology Photography series, Exhibition, Book
Research & Photography Corinna Del Bianco
Exhibition “Archipelago. Fotografie di Corinna Del Bianco”
Location Italian Cultural Institute in Hamburg
Duration 15 December 2021 – 30 March 2022
Read more about ARCHIPELAGO photography series by Corinna Del Bianco, here!