Taking Care – designing for the common good is TAMassociati’s mission

Healing garden, Port Sudan, Sudan, 2012 (courtesy of Massimo Grimaldi and Emergency)

Taking Care – designing for the common good is TAMassociati’s mission. Founded by Massimo Lepore (Udine, Italy, 1960), Raul Pantaleo (Milan, 1962) and Simone Sfriso (London, 1966) the firm sets out to show how architecture can be a profession at the service of communities and a tool for civil action.

The firm operates in heterogeneous contexts, but is best known for its projects in emergency contexts, in Africa and the Middle East, often collaborating with NGOs such as Emergency. Compressed earth blocks and bamboo weaving, lowered brick vaults and undulated steel pitched roofs constitute a simple and austere vocabulary that these architects use to offer beauty and dignity to territories troubled by conflict.

TAMassociati proposes a different modernity, an alternative to the western model of uncontrolled development. In the words of Austrian philosopher and pedagogist Ivan Illich, their architectures are “tools for conviviality”: they encourage self-sufficiency, using local techniques and skills to find contemporary solutions, always acknowledging the social context and the community’s needs.

One example is the construction of the H2OS eco-village in Keur Bakar Diahité, Senegal in 2017, a project that includes a community centre with a rammed-earth structure built with the villagers, with whom experts have undertaken an educational path to increase knowledge in the fields of construction and agricultural efficiency.

Taking Care was also the theme TAMassociati chose for the Italian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. This curatorial project provided thought, meeting and action opportunities that allowed the firm to incorporate a broader reflection into its practice, translating into a collection of case studies, interactions with different agents operating in urban and world peripheries, and the creation of five mini-architectures resulting from the collaboration between architects and NGOs.

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