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Ex-Fadda – L’Officina del sapere – San Vito dei Normanni

By Camille Vilain

Ex-Fadda – L’Officina del sapere – Ex-Fadda – Laboratory of knowledge

As stated, the story of Ex-Fadda is strictly connected to the public programme “Bollenti Spiriti”: in 2010 the young enterprise Sandei, together with 5 local associations related to different areas (welfare, theatre, music), won the call for the temporary management of the winery Dentice Frasso. More specifically, they received an amount of 60.000 €, which was not sufficient for the complete restoration. Hence, the members of Sandei, involved a high number of local people in a project of “self-building” that day by day contributed to restore the old winery. This process is not still ended, but it is significant to notice that a real “building group” is involved in a continuous work of reconstruction and renovation. They use waste materials or any material donated by companies and they are all volunteers: architects, designers, carpenters, craftsmen, this is an enthusiast group of people involved in a collective renewal of the area that develops an actual sentiment of ownership of the place.

Today Ex-Fadda runs several projects/activities: a recreation centre for children, a music school, a carpenter’s workshop, a group of photographers, a library, a bar and a radio. There are two special places: XLives, an open air space that young people use to organize concerts and parties and XFood, a social restaurant that uses zero mile food and employs 16 disabled people, with an equipped kitchen and a vegetable garden.

Everyone from the community can ask for a space and pay rent if he/she can: the activities and the agenda of Ex-Fadda are decided together, the ownership of the place is distributed and everybody have the responsibility to make things work

Key actors

The key-players are a group of Apulian young people living in different parts of Italy who founded an enterprise for Media Screening called Sandei: they decided to keep the headquarters in their original town, San Vito dei Normanni, willing to create a project of Corporate Social Responsibility having positive effects in their territory. Vito Valente is one of the founders of Sandei, and above all, one of the main supporters of the Ex-Fadda project. Sandei enterprise collaborated from the beginning with a set of local cultural associations such as: Magazzini Teatrali Dardagnam, Associazione Un Futuro a Sud, Associazione Bendicò e le Stelle and Associazione Epifani Barbers. But the crucial player is the project manager Roberto Covolo, a sociologist who joined Sandei and Ex-Fadda bringing a strong and innovative vision. Another important actor is represented by the institutions, first of all “Regione Puglia”, that provided the initial funding for starting the project and the municipality of San Vito dei Normanni that gave official endorsoment. The protagonists and main beneficiaries of Ex-fadda are members of the local associations and communities who participate in restoring the old winery and currently run different initiatives within the Ex-Fadda project.

Role of design

Ex-Fadda makes essentially an implicit use of design: nobody within Sandei or the other associations of Ex-Fadda is a professional designer, nevertheless, a wide community of designers and architects participate to the reconstruction of the building and requalification of the whole area.

Design is not explicitly mentioned as one of the crucial principals or sources of inspiration that guide Ex-Fadda, but looking at the place, it seems that design is everywhere: Ex-Fadda is a gorgeous place, similar to a modern “cathedral” full of light and empty spaces in which people work, participate, create.

> Public space design: Ex-Fadda represents the concrete application of a new concept of public space whose meaning and use is defined by its users time by time. The space is flexible and also chairs and table can be moved and placed according to the different needs. In a way, architecture and interior design are two disciplines that come over the whole space.

> Service design: Ex-Fadda is a platform of collaborative services, in a way it is possible to argue that the local creativity in figuring out activities and initiatives for the public interest is similar to that of service designers, able to conceive and develop actual services

Participatory design: everything in Ex-Fadda is subjected to a participatory process, even if it is not designed and codified by researchers or professional designers, people’s participation in taking decisions and contributing with choices and activities is warmly fostered, because this is simply the way in which Ex-Fadda works.

CONTACT (of the editor)

Daniela Selloni – Organization : POLIMI – Email :