This paper explains an operational approach based on the hypothesis that sustainable settlements could differ from the popular idea of high-tech, low-density housing dispersed in green land. Ancient settlements could be regarded as interesting starting points to achieve sustainability, because of their compactness and their potential to use again the energy stored and the materials employed in the construction. It involves an understanding of technology not only as optimization, but as mean of contextualization. These concepts will be explained through three case studies in the Mediterranean climate of north Sardinia, all designed by the authors: a single cell for a "spreaded hotel" in the historical centre of the village of Osilo, the rehabilitation project for a mining village in Argentiera, that extends the previous experience to a larger scale, the extension of the "spread hotel" in a system composed of different buildings.
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