How arise a “Borgata” | San Basilio

Periphery is a vague term, treacherous, filled with clichés. Describes something around a center, as if it came a moment when you realize that this center is finished, closed, exceeded.
Borgata (Roman term referred to working-class suburbs) is a strong term, which indicates an area that the vocabulary describe as “grouping of suburban buildings, which has been developed as an interim solution and became a permanent settlement with big infrastructure problems and difficulties of integration into the urban fabric.”

San Basilio, Roma. Foto Valerio Muscella

So, when the center ends the suburbs starts and in the suburbs there are borgate. This clear progression tends to define those living outside the center as out, but out of what? Out of history, of the power, of the beauty. In San Basilio, but the feeling is shared by many hamlets, seem to live suspended while the city grows around you, embraces you but without making you feel part of it, extraneous as an illegitimate son of a city that knows of your existence and that keeps you alive with minimum oxygen.

This is the story of San Basilio. From the construction of the first houses, during fascism, little has changed. Not even the arrival of the Metro B at Rebibbia in the early ’90s seems to have freed this suburb from any kind of deficiencies. In 2015, swimming pool, cinema, local health authorities and post office are still not available, there’s a chronic deficiency of basic services. Built during the fascism and composed of low and unhealthy houses has been slowly restored in the 50s. The buildings made of autarkik material have been gradually demolished and so with them disappeared the sign Duce, composed of some buildings and only visible flying over them by plane.
The first houses that can be defined as such have been built with funds from the Marshall Plan, this is how borned the UNRRA CASAS village (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) immediately after the Second World War. A surreal place, full of green and low houses, small streets as in the country which determined a unique atmosphere thet is still suspended. Gradually, starting in ’54, the Institute of Public Housing started building lots from the west side of the Tiburtina. All San Basilio became popular with the people coming from different parts of Rome, real modern deported, who from the Gordinai barracks and who from Trastevere, some witnesses also remind of Dalmatian exiles.

San Basilio, Roma. Foto Valerio Muscella

The reflection that arises from the history of the neighborhood forces us to try to understand how is possible that an area of this size has been built seven kilometers from the central area of Verano and San Lorenzo, leaving in the middle hectares of countryside, barracks and small factories. The Tiburtina is still a dirt road when San Basilio is built, but the electricity, gas and water are essential tools for everyday life. These services, which necessarily had to walk all the consular, have been then fundamental for those who on those vacant lots, dividing the city from the district, had speculative ambitions? So remains a question that we intend to investigate: are villages outposts of speculation? Is San Basilio, built far from the center, a child of this kind of operation? The first and the real fact is that people are the helpless subjects of this power game that then, as now, locks them in a suspended state, waiting and delegate, sons of a place created for political will rather than human and social.

Simone Pallotta, Curator, WALLS

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