Goals and Mission

Within the DICAR Department of the Polytechnic University of Bari, the Design for Heritage Research Group brings together researchers interested in the theme of Heritage and associated by the same point of view, based on the intention to develop it in the dialectic between conservation and transformation. Its main goal is to define and experiment, through design practice, transformative principles and techniques capable of assuming the ‘inherited’ form, put in crisis by time, abandonment, natural phenomena or by the simple loss of meaning and recognition, and give it a new value and meaning in order to transmit it renewed to posterity.

In a broad sense, the architectural and landscape Heritage of our cities and territories, which are a ‘palimpsest’ of stratified works and tracks, not only has a value in itself, linked to its memory and its role of testimony, but also a potential value, connected to its possibilities to be transformed and renewed, deriving from its being first of all a ‘form’. A form whose state of ruin, degradation or abandonment, due to the passage of time, natural disasters or loss of correspondence to the original purpose, determines a ‘virtuous’ condition of suspension and waiting that makes it available for new interpretations and ‘rewritings’. A form whose ‘fragile’ condition is often combined with a loss of meaning that makes it ‘unrecognizable’ and exposes it to improper actions which rather than enhancing, degrade it. A form that in order to be ‘preserved’ often need not only to be ‘protected’ but also to be ‘transformed’ and, therefore, ‘re-signified’, renewing its relations with the context and making it recognizable.

In this perspective, conservation can be seen as an ‘opportunity’, as a chance to renew and strengthen the existing form, be it ancient or modern, artificial or natural, assuming its status of Heritage, evidently linked to its collectively recognized architectural and landscape value, as a ‘resource’ for the ‘re-form’ of our stratified cities and territories.

In order to adopt the ‘transformation’ as a tool for conservation and enhancement, a new point of view is required. A point of view capable of recognizing the ‘orders’ underlying the existing form and considering them as relational ‘structures’ for the definition of new orders and the attribution of new meanings, at the same time necessary for the renewal and strengthening of its identity and corresponding to the aspirations of our time. An interdisciplinary point of view that also knows how to combine the knowledge of all those disciplines that in various ways can significantly contribute to the re-foundation of the methods and techniques of the project for Heritage, a transformation project aimed at taking care of it, keeping it ‘alive’ and transmitting it renewed to the future generations.

The research group aims to respond to the ‘emergency’ issues of the territory and the geographical area of reference, without however renouncing the construction of a theory and a method that give the research a value of generality, necessary to define through the project the grammars and techniques useful to compose with existing forms. Defined through comparison with interested parties (stakeholders), these issues are the subjects of the researches, funded by ministerial funds and local government bodies, carried out by PhD students and postdoctoral fellows belonging to the group.

In relation to its aims and activities, the research group has the following strategic goals:

– research-funding: collection of funds for research and economic support of the group’s activities through the participation in competitive calls or the achievement of economic contributions from public and private stakeholders;
– dissemination of the research outcomes through scientific publications and participation in conferences, seminars, workshops, summer schools, architecture exhibitions;
– promotion / organization of scientific activities such as conferences, seminars, workshops, summer schools, architecture exhibitions;
– establishment of national and international research networks and active participation in the existing ones, if considered significant;
– ‘Third Mission’ activities (public engagement, lifelong learning, technology transfer) at the service of local government bodies, understood as applied research, that is, as a moment of verification and validation of the research outcomes, as well as crowdfunding activities.