BRINDISI – An Urban Renewal Project
Updated: Apr 19
Several years ago, I was requested by a group of promoters to propose an urban renewal concept for a complex of old buildings, close to the Brindisi port in Italy. My involvement with this project was tied to a deep personal experience, connected to my mother’s migration from Egypt to Italy in 1956. The migrant ship harbored in the port of Brindisi, and the passengers were received at the refugee camp at the edge of the city - a group of long stone structures, facing the port area. At the time, my mother was only 10 years old.
And thus, another circle of my life found closure: the complex at the heart of this development program was none other than the refugee camp in Brindisi. The camp that had received my mother with a loving hug. The time of her stay in the refugee camp remains in her memory as a pleasant period, evoking warm memories regarding both the generosity of the city residents and the friendships forged with her fellow refugees.
From my mother’s stories throughout the years, it became clear that the refugees had enjoyed the most humane reception, as was also the case during other periods of migrations to Italy, such as the migration of refugees from Syria in recent years. This welcoming warmth originates from the good- heartedness of the residents, rather than stemming from the official policy of the city and the area. The Brindisi Municipality was very pleased about the initiative of re-developing the complex of the refugee camp. It is appropriate that the city shall display such innovative/public activity, maintaining the poignant human history of the site.
As per urban planning, due to the proximity of the airport, tall buildings are not permitted. The location of the old refugee camp is on a hill overlooking the port, constituting a “premium” location for a vacation site. Accordingly, I proposed to renovate the buildings and to convert the area into an entertainment site complete with guestrooms, a cinema, restaurants, and galleries. The historical background of the “reception of refugees” will be expressed by screening pictures, presentations, and video films on the walls of the structures.
I created the concept in 2016. Today, the municipality is activating a group of local promoters in order to recruit funds to carry out the project.