Cities and Extension Plans in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: Borgo Murattiano of Bari (1812-1859)

Cities and Extension Plans in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: Borgo Murattiano of Bari (1812-1859)

Giuseppe Carlone (Politecnico di Bari, Italy)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3613-0.ch001
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In Italy in the nineteenth century the bourgeoisie decreed the end of the old model of urban development which had been limited by the rules of military architecture. In the years of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Bourbons established the Consigli Edilizi. Between 1859 and 1860 Francis II established 19 Consigli Edilizi; 13 were in municipalities of an administrative district. With the decree of foundation of the suburb of Bari, Gioacchino Murat donated the state land to the city and ordered that private persons and holy places were obliged to register for assessment or to sell to the municipality any land lying within the perimeter of the suburb unless they wanted to build on it. The new regime of public ownership of the land ratified by the Murattiano decree was confirmed by the “Statutes for the regular formation of the suburb of Bari” approved on 1st December 1814. The last step for assignment of land takes place before a notary. This is the signing of the assessment contract which involves the mayor, the building commission called Deputazione del borgo and the applicant. This chapters details these steps.
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In southern Italy in the course of the 19th century the bourgeoisie decreed the end of the old model of urban development which for centuries had been limited by the rules of military architecture. The urge towards innovation was very strong, especially in relation to new living needs.

If the city was no longer considered a barrack square, its ‘opening up’ was seen as a sign of the new civilization.

Besides, the walled cities had almost wholly lost their original austere aspect. The moat, created as a forward defence, was cultivated by the peasants and the embankment was largely dismantled to make way for new buildings in the lee of the walls. Gates had been opened in the walls to facilitate access to the countryside. In many cases depots, warehouses, cellars, shops and small dwellings had been built.

A final negative aspect concerned the city’s hygienic and sanitary conditions. The dumps for olive presses and tanneries and the ditches for solid and liquid urban waste lay along the walls.

Expansion outside the city walls was not only a response to the needs of an over-dense population packed into mediaeval urban structures in precarious hygienic conditions; it was also a political act, marking the passage to a new era in which progress could be reflected in a new way of experiencing the city.

It resulted in criticism, terse and biting, which sometimes involved the most obsolete aspects of the old settlements, now seen as ‘historic centres’ of larger and more complex territorial and urban entities.

To complete insensitivity regarding the historic-architectonic value of the city walls and gates was added great attention to the physical and planning configuration of the new spaces which were to be built beyond the old defence of the walls.

There are three directions of research that combine to correctly trace the map of the urbanistic transformations in southern Italy during the Reign of the Two Sicilies.

The first concerns the plans of the suburbs, an expression of that culture which engineers and architects – under the direction of the Bridges and Roads Engineering Corps – brought into play to meet the growing need of city expansion. Set in a current of ideas of European dimension they applied theories and cultural models with originality and in accordance with local requirements.

In a general situation of local financial crisis, the costs of implementing the expansion plans represented the most serious problem for all municipalities. The most rational solution in many cases therefore appeared to be that of beginning construction of the suburbs, initially by taking a census of the municipally owned land around the built-up area and along the perimeter of the walls.

There were also other problems regarding the choice of plan, such as the possibility of linking the grid of the suburb with the municipal, regional and state road system (matrix routes) at the points where they joined the built-up area; and then the need to orient expansion of the 19th century blocks, taking into account the numerous pre-existing buildings outside the walls which, with a dense network of roads, conditioned the regularity of the plan.

The second direction concerns building regulations, fruit of a long and impassioned debate which, setting out from the institutions of municipal (decurionato) and provincial (intendenza) administration, directly involved the State.

The third direction is represented by the demand for new buildings by the bourgeoisie, side by side with the aristocracy and the clergy.

A cross-referenced reading of the data supplied by these three directions of research on the one hand allows us to compare different experiences in the field of planning and regulations, and on the other to highlight, together with sovereign will, the contribution of ideas offered by local administrators and technicians in response to demands from the private sector.

In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies the new political and cultural climate of the French decade (1806-1815) marked a profound break with the society of the Ancien Regime with regard to both the form of territorial government and the urbanistic development of the cities.

In particular the legislative intervention of the sovereign Gioacchino Murat defined a precise and complex dialectic between the different institutional levels present in the kingdom and responsible for public works. Side by side with the still determining role played by local administrations, essentially regarding recovery of necessary funds, a central structure of administrative and technical bodies was established with controlling and decisional functions, a new institutional apparatus organised in a modern manner.

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