Visiting the unMonks

As two architects seeking new housing types in response to the contemporary ways of living and working in our European cities in crisis, we went to visit one of the most relevant projects that deal with this current issue. The unMonastery project located in the unique urban context of Matera offers both a co-living/co-working prototype and an urban infrastructure for the development of several innovative social projects (environmental, urban, and educational).

Next to the Matera 2019 administrative building, we stayed by the devoted typical dwelling space in Sassi, and shared the unMonks’ life for 39 hours. 39 hours of intense co-dining, co-sleeping, co-napping, co-dancing and co-working sessions with the unMonks and some of their collaborators.

Before coming we knew already how inventive and smart was this original approach of social innovation and work in our current European cities. But by living there, we got to understand the actors and the scenery of such an exemplary experiment.

These ordinary people (unmarginal, unextreme, unwithdrawned) and yet unordinary (independent workers, well connected nomads, devoted human beings) are sharp and sensitive enough to display a lucid vision on our society. Their attractive collaboration is even sponsored by the city of Matera in order to work on its future innovation. We can even admit the process serves a more global prospective vision.

As for the built space they occupy and its urban location, it may have been many other options, but the first prototype found its fitted environment here in Matera, in the social context of this small city (candidate for the 2019 European capital of culture), and in these historical troglodyte spaces: where the light dispersed by the high vaults provides a right atmosphere for work, the unhierarchical clustered spaces promote freedom of co-habiting, the large and round rooms enable variety of space organisation and uses, the rooms’ direct connections to the public path and the public terraces open onto the city, and where the 5 minutes walking distance to the city centre includes the unMonastery in the urban system.

Cities and citizens should realise the benefit of such temporary workshop on our society and its environment. And at least, if the last don’t take part, we hope they inspire of such initiatives to be creative in such crisis context. We wish the unMonastery prototype would colonize other urban situations to foster our society development.

Marie-Charlotte Dalin et Julia Tournaire.

Ciao Julia e Macha

Yes, the unOPening meetings did exactly what we wished them to do – made a suitable punctuation at the end of an unMo chapter.  From my point of view, especially the press conference was moving with our key co-players expressing the significance that the project has achieved in the community and insisting that it should have an active role in the future.  Administrating this remains a question, but we have the best possible building plans.

The work presentation party was a little rude culturally as we didn’t open the wine tables until people had had a good long time to enter into dialog about the various branches of our efforts.

News for you: the Big Map found a use after all.  I took the third sheet with Asia and Australia and sliced it with our brand new paper cutter.  These gave me perfect strips to write i Segreti di unMon upon; these then went into my treasure box for people to dig into and inquire about what I was really thinking…

Thanks again…


Lovely to meet you both

Thanks for this, Julia and Macha, it is really considerate of you to leave a trace of your passing. Also, good to know you are home safe.

Let me see if I can help your research a bit by connecting to interesting people in the Edgeryders community…

Please consider coming back to Matera in October for LOTE4. Meanwhile, good luck with everything.