Nowadays, it is difficult to define how to limit the utilisation of the Alps. Hotel facilities, second homes, ski infrastructure, energy supply systems, and land and intensive livestock farming systems have become our priority to support the economy. The ‘traditional’ ways of utilising the Alpine environment have almost become folk activities, needed to guarantee that the ‘mountain product’ retains a degree of authenticity. The recent environmental, economic and, finally, health crises have, in an unequivocally dramatic manner, demonstrated the limits to how we use and exploit natural resources. And, thus, we find ourselves at a crossroads and we know that we need a change of pace. The Alps are no longer an idyllic location and fruit of a long process of mythologising. Rather, they present all the characteristics of complex systems where humans have gone beyond the limits of what can be considered sustainable development. Does it still make sense to insist on a winter tourism model that mainly focuses on downhill skiing, with widespread infrastructure that demands an impactful technical system comprised of water works and dams to collect water in order to ensure snow can be created according to “plan”? Which strategy can be pinpointed to reverse the trend of enjoying mini-breaks in the mountains and also demonstrate how a slow pace and time are necessary conditions to really experience getting to know a place? What could be the limit to the necessary transformation of some areas of the land to support an economy that still enables the inhabitants of the ‘highlands’ to avoid abandoning the mountain and remain, thus ensuring the landscape is maintained and cared for, as needed?
Alberto Winterle, Director of Turris Babel
TURRIS BABEL is the architectural magazine from the Fondazione Architettura Alto Adige, the fruit of a voluntary collaboration between passionate young architects. The editorial staff set themselves a goal: reawaken interest in architecture not just for subject experts but for the public, relaunch the debate on architecture in South Tyrol both across the whole area and on a national level, and promote the popularisation of good design that takes into account the socio-economic and environmental implications it includes.