Great Britain: 1975-1980

Flier for Fano Foundation's Educational Village in Italy

 

Slobodan Dan Paich was Chairman and Director of Studies of the Fano Foundation Educational Village, and the International Summer School in Italy, from 1975 to 1980.

Building a temporary dwelling of cane and grasses
Tying the center top of the temporary dwelling
Cane screen assembledAnnual recreation of a primeval dwelling

Establishing Fano Foundation

Maria Vittoria Colona-Winspere, who lived in southern Italy in an ancient house surrounded by a loosely structured village of over 30 trulli (ancient conical dry-stone dwellings), wanted to turn parts of her agriculturally-abandoned land to a different use. She read the findings of the French competition: Ideas for a building promoting life long learning and invited Slobodan Dan Paich to start a project based on his award-winning entry.

Looking up to the trullo's corbelled ceiling
A trulo interior, looking up at the ceiling
Trulo exterior
Trulo exterior
Another view of a different trulo
Reinhabiting the prehistoric dwellings at the summer school

Maria Vittoria Colona-Winspere, who lived in southern Italy in an ancient house surrounded by a loosely structured village of over 30 trulli (ancient conical dry-stone dwellings), wanted to turn parts of her agriculturally-abandoned land to a different use. She read the findings of the French competition: Ideas for a building promoting life long learning and invited Slobodan Dan Paich to start a project based on his award-winning entry.

The finished lake at Fano
The finished lake at Fano
The finished lake at FanoImages of the finished lake at Fano

They decided to create a summer art school. S.D.Paich served as Chairman for the charitable trust that was set up in Britain to administer the school. Every summer, for five years, art students, architects, musicians (a string quartet attended one summer), established and aspiring artists came to the summer school.

Learning local traditionsLearning local traditions
Building a lake at FanoBuilding of a lake
School activities at FanoSchool activities

The school improved the land and repaired the ancient dry-stone dwellings, some of which had prehistoric origins and were maintained by successive occupants over thousands of years. In addition, the local people and school participants built a small lake, an attempt to create a self-sustaining ecosystem with a poetic landscape.

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Annual tradition of recreating a primeval dwelling

Drawing of a primeval dwelling
Drawing of a type of primeval shelter
Drawing of a different type of primeval dwelling made of earth

Every year at Fano, Slobodan Dan Paich lead an enactment of building a primeval dwelling.

Loosely inspired by commentaries, drawings and notions about origins of buildings in early architectural treatises, and strongly guided by the intentions articulated in the summer school's brochure describing activities at Masseria Fano:

"It is an experiment in living together, in a learning community which challenges itself with the reconstruction of everything as if from the beginning."

Building the primeval hut
Working on the primeval hut
Working together on the primeval hut

Participants at Fano engaged in collecting and transforming natural materials at hand in this instance into building the primordial hut.

Building the primeval hut
Stabilizing the framework of the primeval hut
Participant looking on their handiwork

The hut had a practical and discreetly ceremonial value. It stood at the Fano stream where water was collected for drinking and for use in daily activities.

Building the primeval hut
Working on the primeval hut
Working together on the primeval hut

The little building was a symbolic landmark, a focus of the central courtyard and was used as a papermaking hut.

Constructing the hut screen
The hut is nearly done
Finished hut
Finishing touches for the hut
Looking through the open roof of the hut
Securing the grass screen onto the framework

After trial and error, we rediscovered the qualities of split cane, which made the subsequent models of the hut more fluid.

Working on the hutThe papermaking vat before it was covered with a new hut.
Looking through the open roof of the hutThis image and the one at right are of the split cane version built in 1988.
Securing the grass screen onto the framework

This endeavor at Fano influenced a number of later projects and is still inspirational to this day, as part of a skill set that informs Slobodan's collaborations and personal projects.

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Architectural experiments and ancient building methods.
International summer school at Masseria Fano (1975-1980)

A strong aspect of the school's work at Masseria Fano was centered on reconstruction whenever possible, and re-inhabiting the ancient trulli. The participants actually lived in the trulli. Under Slobodan Dan Paich's leadership as Director of Studies, every participant established a deep connection to Architectural Principals and Ancient Building Methods in their own way.

Trullo interior
A trullo (trulli, plural) is a traditional Apulian circular stone dwelling. The style of construction is specific to the Italian region of Apulia (in Italian Puglia).
Another interior view in the trullo
Trullo view
Traditionally they were built without using cement or mortar. This style of construction is also prevalent in the region's countryside where most of the fields are contained by dry-stone walls.
Another interior view in the trullo

 

Apulian landscape
The trulli were constructed in two layers. The inner layer of limestone boulders were carefully layered and progressively cantilevered to form an internal circular domed space.
Another interior view in the trullo

 

The outer layer of limestone acted as a counterweight and kept the inner parabolic structure from "springing" out. The outer layer tapered upwards and could either be circular or square in plan.

Trullo in Apulian landscape
In the vicinity of Masseria Fano, the internal circular structures were traditionally built directly on the ground. The curve of the domed space started at ground level.
Another trullo
Trullo in Apulian landscape
The walls were very thick, providing a cool environment in summer and insulating from cold in winter. The archaic trulli of the Salento region do not have windows, the only light coming in through the door.
Another trullo

 

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Masseria Fano History

Historic photo of a dwelling
Masseria Fano, in the southern Italian province of Lecce, is an estate developed around a strong stone defense tower dating back to 1577 and re-built at various times.
An old photo of trullo with stone wall in foreground

 

The Fano estate is defined by a stream with the same name. The presence of fresh running water is a reason for continuous human habitation far beyond recorded history. It is no surprise that the estate contains an important archaeological site from the bronze age.

An old photo of three trulli in a row
An old trullo and trees
An old trullo on a hill

In 1987 Descoeudres J.P.-Robinson E. published a report of the systematic archaeological exploration of the "Chiusa," at Masseria Fano, carried out by Australian investigators of the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the University of Lecce.

The published work was titled:

"La Chiusa alla Masseria del Fano: Un sito messapico arcaico presso Salve in Provincia di Lecce"

("The 'Chiusa' at the Masseria Fano: A site of archaic settlement near Salve in the Province of Lecce")

Black and white photo of a square trullo
An old trullo
Doorway of a trullo

In the ravine below the fortified tower of Masseria Fano are the traces of the Byzantine monks, "monaci basiliani," who fled Turkish invasion in the second half of the 15th century. They established a presence around the water stream. Some small caves dug in the cliff are still visible with elusive traces of frescoes.

Detail of the stairs on a trullo exterior
Detail of interior trullo construction
A carved cross in the top of a trullo ceiling

Masseria Fano abandons in numerous and characteristic dry stone dwelling constructions from many different periods are generally referred as trulli. Some are also loosely called "paiare," the type with a circular and "liame," those with a square base.

 

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Irrigation at Fano

View of Fano
For thousands of years people at Fano have maintained the fresh water stream and cheerfully diverted it into irrigation canals.
View of irrigation at Fano

This meticulous art deeply understands water and its potential.There is some unspoken lore which in the act of diverting water always leaves a substantial flow for neighbors downstream. When this delicate balance is observed everyone flourishes.

View of irrigation at Fano
The understanding of the role of vegetation in preserving the flow and purity of water is crucial. Watercress, mint and cane play important roles in maintaining this balance.
View of irrigation at Fano

The keepers of the creek concisely harvest and encourage those plants.

Sloobdan Dan Paich engaged directly with the Fano Canal keepers and learned the irrigational craft from them. This became a basis in designing a little lake in Fano.

View of irrigation at Fano
Fano landscape
View of irrigation at Fano
The lake at Fano
The lake at Fano
The lake at Fano

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Bypass Channel

Essential in building the little lake was the understanding of topology, water flow and vegetation. The canal at Fano flowed for about a mile and then disappeared underground as the terrain descended towards the sea, about 8 miles away.

Irrigation channel at Fano
Irrigation channel at Fano
Irrigation channel at Fano

The lake was built at a point just before the stream disappeared underground. Most importantly a bypass channel had to be made, which allowed water to flow uninterrupted while the earth was excavated for what was to become the lake bottom and for later maintenance and cleaning.

Irrigation channel at Fano
Irrigation channel at Fano
Irrigation channel at Fano

The process of building the lake lasted three years. The core of the process was to leave selected areas to overgrow in the winter after intense work in the summer and in the following summer to take cues from nature for determining the next step in building the lake.

Irrigation channel at Fano
Irrigation channel at Fano
Irrigation channel at Fano

Not unlike our process in a number of other community partnerships and much like the creation of collaborative performances at the Artship Dance/Theater where once a thematic focus is chosen, the contextual perimeters set and the structural and dramatic outcomes sketched, the narration and the story grow organically out of all the processes involved.

Building the lake at Fano
Building the lake at Fano
Moving stones for the lake

Once the water was diverted and the creek bed was dry, we stabilized the existing topology before the water was allowed to resume its course. Next was the construction of the rear dam after determining the support, as well as the extent and the shape of the intake side of the lake.

Moving stones for the lake
The bottom of a dry lakebed
The bottom of the lake

The lake was built by volunteers. The International summer school participants were joined by citizens from two local towns Presicce and Salve, which traditionally didn't work together on volunteer community projects.

The channel that fed the lake
Fano landscape
The lake at Fano

The overall shape of the lake was like a bowl, not unlike two clasped hands conjoined to create a temporary drinking cup.

 

Lakeside view
Vegetation around the lake
View at the lake

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The Finished Lake

Finished lake
Finished lake
Finished lake

After all the construction, any evidence of the human hand having worked the land became invisible as the natural processes abounded.

 

The land around the lake
Swimming in the lake
Diving into the lake

Within the larger context of the region the Lake was camouflaged by the very planting which it encouraged. The intention of its placement and design by Slobodan Dan Paich was for the lake to be a poetic retreat away from the bustle, a place to be discovered each time.

Woman in the lake
Woman in the lake
woman in the lake

The playfulness which sometimes emerged fed people's imaginations and their generative memory for future bodies of work.

The little lake was one of the containers of experiences expressed in the written intentions of the summer school:

"The seed is planted at Fano, but the harvest is at home. After six weeks of concentrated effort the real test is to implement the experience in our urban daily situations."

Finished lake
Finished lake
Finished lake

When the lake was finished Gary Cook, one of the principal co-builders of the Lake, said: "All maps are out of date."

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Conclusion

The Educational Village gathered in Apulia, southern Italy. It was an experiment in living together, a learning community challenging itself with the reconstruction of everything as if from the beginning.

"Everyone teaches and everyone learns."

The energy of explorers of new or forgotten worlds, the pioneering enthusiasm of settlers, the fore founders ability to care for and understand others, all these qualities are everyone's birthright. It only needs a real situation to bring them out and a life to contain them.

"The seed is planted at Fano, but the harvest is at home."

After six weeks of concentrated effort the real test is how to implement the experience in our urban daily situations.

A page from the Fano flier full of photos

The central generating core came from six teachers who offered the disciplines of papermaking, paint making, natural dyeing, printmaking, stone carving, dry-stone building and the shaping of the land. As well as music and illustrated talks.

We lived together on minimal funds, everyone sharing all the duties and chores.

The land, Masseria Fano, and all the buildings belonged to Maria-Vittoria Colonna Winspeare who kindly made them available for the school. The principles and organization of the school was based on a thesis by Slobodan Dan Paich called 'Educational Village or Treatise on Harmony' which won First Prize in an international competition sponsored by the French government in Paris in 1973.

Another page from the Fano flier with more pictures

Slobodan Dan Paich: General Teaching, Practical Architecture and History of Landscape Design
Andrew Higgott: History of Architecture
Maria Lancaster: Fresco, Artists' Materials and Painting
Norman Mommens: Sculpture and Stone Carving
Lynette Howells: Papermaking and Natural Dyes
Zorica Tasic: Printmaking

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Personal Album

Tobias Brown working on an engraving Tomatoe harvest under a walnut tree

Left: Tobias Brown working on an engraving at Fano's printmaking studio.
Right:Tomato harvest gathered under an ancient walnut tree full of nearly ripe nuts

Tool table from above Another view of the tool table

Tools the summer school used at the central gathering place

Slobodan giving a talk in the grove Slobodan giving a demo

Left: Slobodan giving a talk in the eucalyptus grove; the small audience hidden by the trees, this time he is not talking to himself.
Right: A candid shot of Slobodan expounding on a topic.

Slobodan and Maria Another shot of Slobodan and his wife Maria

Slobodan and his wife Maria Lancaster at Fano, 1979

Chris, Slobodan and Maria Chris and Slobodan

Left: Chris Fothergill,foreground, Slobodan and Maria
Right: Chris and Slobodan

Maria, Slobodan and Gary Cook Slobodan pushing a wheelbarrow

Left: Maria, Slobodan and Gary Cook
Right: Gary and Slobodan clearing land for the site of the lake at Fano

Maria collecting wood Slobodan atop the trullo he used at Fano

Left: Maria collecting wood for making alkaline lay out of wood ash for paint making
Right: Slobodan atop a Trulo, the building he lived in while at Fano.

Andrew Higgot, one of the founders of Fano Lyn Howells another core Fano member

Left: Andrew Higott, one of the founders of Fano Foundation, who taught History of Architecture at Fano
Right: Lyn Howells, a core member of the Fano team, taught papermaking and natural dyes

Slobodan at the Byzantine Caves and at the door of his trullo

Left: Slobodan at the entrance to the Byzantine caves at Fano
Right: Slobodan with a lever he used to lift stones for reconstruction of an ancient precinct, a platform.

A participant walking in the Fano landscape Outside Caffe Alvino

Left: One of the artist participants going to her Trulo in the Fano landscape
Right: Slobodan , Maria and Janet Jones in the town of Lecce at the entrance of the best patisserie, with cakes in hand to take back for everyone at Fano

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