Profile of Miss Corinna Del Bianco Politecnico di Milano

Corinna Del Bianco

Researcher and Photographer.
PhD in Architecture and Urban Studies.
Adjunct professor of Urban Design - DAStU, Politecnico di Milano.
Founder and board member of the Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco.
Partner responsible for the Erasmus+ Projects SURE, UNINET and EDUGAME.
Founder of the research Spontaneous Living Spaces.

General research interests

Research focus on one side on the places' cultural identity studied through the local culture of living on the other side on heritage and tourism as tools to promote a sustainable development.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Dwellings and Settlements in Pemba, a typo-morphological field study in a changing urban environment

PhD Abstract

Focusing on the evolution of the architectural and urban elements that characterize popular self-built urbanization in Pemba, an intermediate city of Mozambique, this research is aimed at understanding the main evolution lines that define the relationship between the house, the city and the main settlement trends, analysing how the traditional self-built architecture is evolving and creating new forms of living in the city.
It is evident that the architectural and urban categories, as conceived in the western tradition, such as formal/informal or planned/unplanned are not applicable in developing contexts. Therefore, this research gives its contribution to their better understanding and redefinition, to create a more conscious background on living systems for interventions.

Mozambique is facing an important demographic and economic growth and its urbanization level is increasing fast (36% of the population is living in cities with an increase from 3,2% to 5% per year) and with scarce control by the authorities . According to UN Habitat, over the 70% of the Mozambican people are living in slums, the highest rate in Southern Africa.

Pemba, an original Swahili settlement, is the capital of Cabo Delgado region; its urban context has limited dimensions but it is now expanding exponentially. One of the main features of this urban expansion is self-construction that is allowed and encouraged by the municipality.
In a context in which the rural settlement model is still the prevailing one and in which the concept of city is not rooted as in the western tradition, the birth and growth of new cities allow the development of new logics of settlement that are mixing the traditional rural spaces and functions with those of the contemporary urbanism. The phenomenon of urban evolution in Pemba can be analysed because this is an area where dimensions and speed of expansion are controllable. Here it is possible to detect the features of variance and permanence compared to the rural models of settlement. In the course of this evolutionary process it is possible to understand which architectural and urban elements are to be valued as possible alternatives to the urban development.

The study carried out an integrated on-site analysis of dwellings and settlements in four selected neighbourhoods of Pemba, taking into account the relationship between spaces at various scales: public and private, external and internal and belonging to different historical phases of expansion of the city.

In conclusion the typo-morphological analysis carried out during the research lead to the definition of the prevailing forms of living in Pemba, detecting those architectural and urban traditional elements that enrich the urban fabric and the community life and that should be preserved and implemented in the future city development plans.

Finally, being the approach methodological, the conclusions are extendable to Mozambican intermediate cities.