Landscape In-Between  A River and a Backyard


Landscape In-Between is a project for the former industrial area of Acetati in Verbania (IT).

Departing from the metaphor of the backyard the project reflects upon the idea of reuse as a territorial strategy.
With an attitude of carefully collecting and radically exposing and recomposing materials, flows, historical layers and traces of production engraved on site, the project sets out to explore the nature of the city of today: its elements, processes, landscapes, territories, and the spaces in-between.


I. Backyard 
The former Acetati, once an industrial periphery between Pallanza and Intra, today lies at the heart of the urban fabric of Verbania. The site slowly emerges as a part of a ‘backyard’: a fragmented territory of marginal spaces and forgotten landscapes, where hidden productive activities takes place. Understanding the nature of the site and embracing the metaphor of the backyard became our point of departure for the project.

2. Metal recycling plant Borgotti Teresa Srl (courtesy Borgotti Teresa Srl).

II. Rediscovery of the River
Currently, the city is orientated towards its scenic lakefront. We propose to bring the San Bernardino river ‘back on the map’ allowing to reconnect Verbania’s territory from the lakefront toward the mountains. We imagine the river to become a thread along which a sequence of landscape episodes unfolds. This figure becomes an element of biodiversity that enable slow movement for pedestrians and bicycles.

1. Theresian Map, 1722;
2., 4. San Bernardino River after flooding, 19th century (courtesy Museo del Paesaggio Verbania);
3. Textile bleaching activities on San Giovanni River.

III. Four Ecologies
Learning from the productive history of Verbania, an idea emerges: natural processes and productive activities have developed in synergy, complementing each other. Building upon this tradition, our project sets forward the idea of an ecology where ‘production’ and its territory are conceived as one. Following fragments on site, we discover four distinct ecologies present on the area: Stones, Water, Green and Industrial Archaeology.

1. Factories in San Bernardino area, ca. 1860;
2. Stonecutters in Baveno Quarry, 1920-30 (courtesy Museo del Paesaggio Verbania);
3. Water channel in Intra;
4. Intra, cityscape of chimneys, early 20th century.

IV. Laboratorio Acetati
Before designing the actual space, we propose to establish a composition of actors that will inhabit the site connecting it to broader networks of production and ecology. This community will work on reuse and upcycle of local resources. It will consist of ‘poles of reuse’ and a ‘craft community’ of creatives working on material and design innovation. Production is conceived both as a material and immaterial process, a social and intellectual act. We imagine the name of this community to be ‘Laboratorio Acetati’.

V. A Promenade
The public space of the ‘city in-between’ doesn’t look like the traditional square of the historical city. It is a promenade through forgotten landscapes. It is a fluid and dynamic place in the making. It is local, and yet it enables a territorial gaze. It is productive, and yet it is part of the everyday. It is a stage for Verbania where relations and experiences are made possible. More than a designed and well-articulated space, it is a composition of gatherings and eventualities—an ‘infrastructure of encounters’.