by ANNA CORSI
'' Let's go over the gate ''.
We looked at each other with a bewildered air: in what sense to climb over ?! But weren't we supposed to take a quiet ride around the city?
The visit to Matera with Alfredo Brillembourg was anything but quiet.
Climbed the gate we found ourselves among the ruins. He wanted to see and touch the ancient houses of Matera, visit what were once shops and walk on the stone streets to be able to relive, for a moment, a past everyday life. He told us about stories, dreams and projects to be able to give life to that beautiful and characteristic city. There was no lack of personal anecdotes, such as the time he had to face a group of boys inside a favela in Venezuela and was injured in the arm (yes it's all true, he even showed us the scar!). Despite the unpleasant experience, however, the desire to discover has never subsided and over the years he has continued his battle, dedicating himself to the forgotten parts of the cities and explaining, even to the younger generations, that architecture must become an instrument of real transformation. His Empower Shack , for example, is a project designed for very poor people living on the fringes of society, in which housing units are built by the inhabitants themselves.
This and much more is what Brillembourg told us as we went up and down stairs and, at the end of the day, all the effort was immediately replaced by a new energy. I had the opportunity to reflect on how it is possible to help less fortunate populations with urbanization interventions and on how important it is never to neglect the sense of belonging to a place, but rather to fight so that it is never lost. I understood that it is important to look at what surrounds us with attentive eyes and always ready for change and that it is necessary to recover the beauty of simplicity always keeping in mind our origins and our bonds.
Khayelitsha, Urban Think Tank (2013)