Santo Stefano di Sessanio: reclaiming a village


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Santo Stefano di Sessanio: reclaiming a village
There are thousands of picturesque villages like Santo Stefano di Sessanio (AQ) scattered across the Italian countryside, but most of them are being abandoned due to the lack of work and of modern conveniences. But there are virtuous examples of reclamation of what the man behind the Sextantio project, Daniele Kihlgren, calls our “minor historic heritage”.

Despite the breathtaking beauty of the farmlands and woods around it, the village was in decline, like thousands of other little hamlets all over Italy: all the young people were leaving, due to the lack of career opportunities, and the village’s architectural heritage was being abandoned. Places like this were built not by a single wealthy client but by the community in general, and this is precisely what makes them so interesting and attractive.

Daniele Kihlgren, the Italo-Swedish initiator who came up with the Sextantio project, has a specific mission: preserving all forms of territorial identity, from landscape to the history of architecture and material culture.

This is our “minor historic heritage”, often neglected because it is not tied to famous names but to the “genius loci”: the basis for reclamation of the buildings themselves and the social renewal of Santo Stefano in Sessanio.

The idea of the integrated multi-building hotel offers new opportunities for the local community without altering the landscape. The design idea is based on territorial research conducted with experts in a variety of fields, such as restorers and anthropologists, to reclaim ancient know-how and learn from the past.

This way of working has benefits to offer not only for the environmental sustainability of the project, which uses only local materials, but also in practical terms: the damage caused by the 2009 earthquake (it is only 30 km from L'Aquila) was limited thanks to the restoration and conservation of the existing buildings.

Sextantio has projects underway in other parts of southern Italy as well as in Abruzzo.

Architects and supervisors of reclamation work: arch. Lelio Oriano di Zio and arch. Antonietta di Clemente
Concept and client: Daniele Kihlgren
Location: Santo Stefano in Sessanio (AQ), Italy
Link: http://www.sextantio.it

Photographs: Courtesy of Sextantio, Photographer: Mario di Paola


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