The present paper investigates the dramatic agrarian-landscape changes occurred in Calabria (South Italy) in the middle of the 20th century. Specific attention is given the landscape transformation following the Agrarian Reform and to those planning interventions carried out by OVS (Opera di Valorizzazione della Sila) between 1940s and 1950s which also resulted in the construction of 6000 dwellings for the agricultural workers and 12 new rural villages. Following the Land Reclamation programmes characterising the period going from the last decades of the 19th century to 1940, the Agrarian Reform represented an interesting although controversial attempt to give an organic and systematic answer to a series of still unsolved great social and territorial problems usually referred to as the “rural question”. The new rural buildings and villages of the Reform had an architectural language which was not vernacular in character, as it had usually been in the past, but now resulted from the adaptation of building-models and type- lans conceived by taking into account both the local environmental constraints and the objectives of the projectual/planning public action. These buildings and villages are now part the architectural historic heritage and represent an important testimony to the evolution of rural architecture in the region. In the first part of this paper the Authors analyse the main features characterising the new rural houses and villages of the Agrarian Reform. The strategies and the planning process underlying their realisation are investigated so as to better understand the change then occurred in the mutual relationship between agriculture, human settlements and rural infrastructures. The cultural values today attributed to this heritage are singled out and discussed. The houses built in the framework of the Agrarian Reform programmes intended to answer “pre-modern” needs; they soon became redundant, and today do not suite the changed lifestyles of the rural families and workers. Most of those buildings appear as empty shells now waiting for the input of new life. Strategies and guidelines for their sensitive reuse, rehabilitation and valorisation are needed. In the second part of the paper, the Authors analyse and discuss the main causes which determined the disuse and abandonment of the heritage considered, as well as the factors which over time have contributed to its acquisition of cultural value and the conditions today favouring its reuse in service of contemporary rurality. Design proposals are outlined in view of a change of use, either for rural tourism or in order to suite the present needs of migrant rural workers. These proposals are based on compatibility criteria aiming to match the conservation of the characteristic features of the heritage under study and the actual needs of the new functions there housed.
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