Oltrarno, Florence – The Future of Craft

Florence is world renowned for its heritage.  Its buildings and works of art mark key milestones in the development of Western civilization. However, this heritage is viewed as belonging to the past and having nothing to do with the present.

Historically, craft as an activity  has tied the residents of neighbourhood of Oltrarno to their built environment – from window shutters and door knobs to street lights and bicycle stands. The practise of craft in the present maintains a connection with the past. Just as the crafts of Oltrarno are an invaluable resource to the neighbourhood they are equally relevant in the context of the city of Florence and the whole world.

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In order to halt the decline of crafts in Oltrarno, people need to be made aware of the significance of craft as a living connection between the past and the present. The practise of craft needs to be kept financially and logistically viable in the face of the changes taking place in the neighbourhood. Avenues for the development and evolution of crafts to ensure their sustainability in the future and prevent them from being mere relics from the past. Ways must be found to make craft more productive so that it can cater to the many needs of the common citizen and remain relevant to their lives.

I wrote this report as part of a study on Digital Placemaking by the Digital City Design Workshop MIT, in 2007. This study was commissioned by the City of Florence and presented to the representatives of the city in 2009.

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