Maison 2.0

Former prison to facilitate freedom

Editorial Staff
December 10, 2009

From a place of imprisonment and punishment to a new, multifunctional cultural complex for contemporary times: this is the goal of the project to revive a former prison in Florence.


Once renovated, the Le Murate complex, located between via dell' Agnolo and via Ghibellina on Viale della Giovine Italia, will include a section of public housing, to be completed in the next few months, a literary café, a space for contemporary art exhibitions and workshops for local youth, and a refuge for the world's ‘smart dissidents'-political activists and bloggers of the 2.0 generation who use the Internet to voice their opinions and concerns.


The Smart Dissidents project and new complex at Le Murate is modeled on France's ‘refuge' for persecuted journalists from around the world, called the Maison des Journalistes (‘House of Journalists'), which opened in Paris in 2003 (see


Like the Maison, Le Murate will offer 24 apartments, food and a place to write for up to six months.


Culture superintendent Giuliano da Empoli says the program will be operating by spring 2010. ‘The Smart Dissidents initiative was launched to welcome all of those dissidents and political activists, from China to Russia, from Afghanistan to Iran, who use the Internet and new technologies to speak about the injustices that occur in their native regimes or countries, and for this reason are censured or treated with violence. We want to bring them to Florence for a short period of time, and give them the chance to live and work in freedom, without the repercussions and threats they experience in their native countries.'


In addition to the area reserved for ‘smart dissidents', the public housing section of the complex will have 79 new apartments, 18 of which will be reserved for young couples. The University of Florence will also use part of the vast complex; however planning for the space is still in process. 


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