Notes about spontaneity in tourism architecture

The ownership of a second home or an apartment on the beach or in the mountains is a luxury; it does not answer a fundamental human need. Touristic architecture has always been considered secondary, due to its connotation as “unnecessary”. This simplistic idea means that very little attention has ever been paid to re- search on typologies and development of touristic architectures.

Since late 70s, however, the boom in mass tourism has made “travelling” into a primary human need. It is only now that we have started to understand the impacts and consequences of our lack of attention and to notice that it has strongly affected the evolution of touristic architecture, both morphologically and territorially.

“Economic aspects of tourist planning” by Jacinto Ros Hombravella, published in Quaderns 64/1966 – “Unresolved problems on the second-home market” by Emili Gasch, published in Quaderns 98/1973.
More articles of Quaderns are available here.

Spontaneity in touristic architecture can be analysed in two main ways: first on the territorial scale, examining the foundation process of the first touristic cities, and second by focusing on the spatial appropriation possibilities, taking the “campsite” as a touristic architecture typology. We can therefore express spontaneity on two different scales, urban and architectonic, both strongly influenced by the seasonal and temporary nature of tourism.

“What a great idea we had this year, right?” – he said looking at his friend who was trying to organize the pieces of an unsolvable puzzle. The other guy stared at him and went back to the car to pick up something. It was their first holiday in a campsite and the brand new tent seemed like something impossible to build. The pitch was 5×5 meters big and the two-person tent looked so small. They put it under the tree in hopes of not waking up at 6am to the morning sun. Everybody around them seemed so organized. The family in front had a big four-person tent, a table with six chairs and a couple of hammocks where their kids were swinging all day. At their right, a young couple was showing off with a new kitchen-tent equipped also with a mini-fridge, while the left neighbours were already lighting the barbecue and the smell of sausages was spreading quickly all around the campground. Walking on the main path allowed them to see the private lives of so many different people, all focused on trying to reproduce a domestic atmosphere. “Can you image that in a few weeks the summer will end and this small city will disappear forever? – Said the first guy – Some people might come back next year, with new equipment and gadgets. Although they will re-build their temporary home, the complex will never appear the same as the previous year. It’s like going to a different place every time but without changing your destination”. The other one smiled and said “So poetic, darling, but no. Not anymore do-it-yourself holidays. It’s a week that our tent is continuously falling down during the night. It’s definitely not our cup of tea!” 

When we compare the residential architecture of the industrial city with its contemporary touristic architecture, the spontaneous character appears to have undergone a completely different morphological evolution. And, from a territorial point of view, touristic architecture has had devastating effects on the landscape, especially in coastal areas.

Notes about spontaneity in tourism architectures – authored by Enrico Porfido and Ricard Pié – is part of a broader research conducted by Giuseppe Resta and Fabio Cappello, editors of the book “SPONTANEOUS – DO IT YOURSELF DOMESTICITY” published by Libria in 2018. The book is available for purchasing here.

Cover pictures by Fabiana Dicuonzo.