ARCHITECTURAL AND URBAN DESIGN STUDIO
01. THE CORE QUESTION: WHO MAKES THE CITY?
A number of divergent interests and values coexist in the production of contemporary urban space. In fact, the city appears as an intense battlefield, in which different factions of capital, politics and institutions try to spatialize their concurrent power projects, but also in which disempowered citizenship and democracy have a chance to flourish.
In this regard, our role as architects is crucial. With our city visions and systems, we have the opportunity to include a big range of stakeholders – public body, real estate developers and investors with different scales, co-ops and communities, and also citizens- into the urban decisions, in order to allow an open and differential process of urban production.
Only a city, which can be produced by all, can be really democratic.
02. DEALING WITH URBAN CHANGES
The course deals with the processes of transformation of the city (urban changes) through the elaboration of projects aimed at directing the configuration of new spaces at different scales, from the cityscapes to domestic space. Peripheries, suburbs and border areas need to be reshaped so that they can acquire the urbanity characters proper of a big city. The starting point is the knowledge of the context including the typological background: awareness and informed appreciation of context give more chances to pursue a successful urban design. The further step is the dialogue between architectural design and typological research so that the design of new architectures is associate with knowledge represented by built architecture both in contemporary and modern age. The design decisions are thus developed along processes of critical knowledge, engaging both imagination and reason in other words with a mix between expressive willfulness and the greatest possible control and rigor, to guarantee dignity and decorum to the building.
03. TOWARDS AN OPEN SOURCE URBANITY
Among the course’s objective there is the thinking about the city with regard on the question “who makes it?”, giving an inclusive answer to it. The task is to develop an “open-source” urban and housing concept for the area. This means essentially to rethink the existing production monopole, and to open it to a broader actor scenario, especially to the citizenship.
The proposed projects and systems will have therefore to deal with different speeds, scales and technological frameworks. We should be able to leave our design-based comfort zone, and to address process oriented questions with our proposals.
Which is the role of public institutions in the new urban developments? Who builds infrastructure? Can real estate developers produce a democratic city? Is profit the main value in a housing development? Which alternative models of housing production can we think of? Which role can civil society overtake in the city’s decision making? How could we maximize their participation in the decisions, in the production and in the profit derived from urban production?
04. [re]COLONIZING VIA BRUNETTI.
The Via Brunetti Area in Milan’s North West will be a perfect case study for these –and many other- questions. It is a highly interesting strategic enclave that shows itself as a huge game board for extremely different actors and transformation scales.
In it and its immediate surroundings we can find obsolete industrial facilities, consolidated housing blocks, new real estate developments, big infrastructures, a lot of terrain vague and even marginal squatters.
The core of the huge urban block in the south of the Via Brunetti –a former car depot- appears now as an empty, degraded space full of potentials for a new neighbourhood development. It has a good relation with the urban fabric to the south, and excellent connection to the big infrastructures (train and highway) to the north.
The projects should be able to formulate a mix use urban tissue, mainly with residential buildings, but also with other programs able to build a functional urbanity. We will deal with middle to high resulting densities, which can be used heterogeneously, opening the project to different scales of investment.
05. THE COURSE’S GOALS AND STRUCTURE
The class is articulated in Architectural Design course (8 ETCS ) carried on by prof. Lucchini and Urban Design course (6 ETCS ) carried on by prof Luis Basabe.
The workshop offers a full experience about architectural and urban design focused on the theme of collective housing and open space in an urban site.
The overall goal is on one hand to design a masterplan which should be borne by a critical knowledge that let us to understand the deep logic of the urban transformation; on the other hand is to face with the design of a residential building enhancing the topics of domestic space project.
The general concept concerns mutual relationship among architecture, living and city culture. That means dealing with the settlement rules and the arrangement of the buildings in space, going for a pretty density able to bear the atmosphere of the city, and defining space figures.
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN (8 ETCS Marco Lucchini)
Students will be asked to design one or more housing building defining apartments layouts, tectonic character, façade composition, and a detailed interior. Know-how will be provided by lectures and experienced through workshop activity, reviews and critics. The practice activity of design is supposed to have a theoretical background articulated in three step as follow:
- The architectural project is set up on TYPOLOGICAL research: the latter associates, from a critical point of view, the definition of the new architectures with the experience, the memory, the heritage of knowledge represented both by contemporary and modernist architecture. The design decisions are thus developed along a process of critical knowledge, taking into consideration the balance between imagination and reason.
- Architecture is made up by a visible and an INVISIBLE part; these two are linked by a relationship which is similar to the distinction, operated by semantics, between the denotative and the connotative significance. The visible concerns the shape, the space, and properties of building materials while the invisible concerns ideas, thoughts, emotions.
- The third concept regards the IDENTITY: it is something singular and typical, but also a choice, in the sense that it reflects our intentions. A place is given an identity by the project, because it represents what survives the continuous changes of the spatial and functional arrangements of the city, and gives an indelible character to the sceneries where the existence of human beings, and that of forms, merge.
The housing design will deal with the topics of "home for all" understood as a type of housing that can be adapted to the fragmented and diverse housing needs outcome of the transformation processes of contemporary society. Students will be asked to design both conventional and advanced types of house focusing on the topics of flexibility and negotiable space.
Furthermore, the project of domestic space will go on simultaneously carrying on the façade design. This will concern the matter of tectonic and architectural identity
URBAN DESIGN (6 ETCS Luis Basabe Montalvo)
Students will be asked to develop a complex master plan for the area, in which its different elements build an open, flexible, open source system for the Via Brunetti area’s colonization, with especial regard on the following aspects:
- NEGOTIATION: The proposed urban design has to be a tool for an urban negotiation among the different stakeholders, rather than a mere design. To design a city is to design a process, rather than a frozen entity.
- ECOSYSTEMS: A city is a complex ecosystem, in which other subsidiary ecosystems take place. To take them all –social, biological, etc– respectful into account is crucial in order to reach a proper social and ecological urbanity.
- NARRATIVES: The conventional apparatus of architecture and urban design seems to be highly inadequate to deal with such complex systems. Product and object oriented, it fails to describe a reality, which has much more to do with processes than with results. In this context, architecture has to rethink its object, its role and its tools. The development of process oriented tools and narratives will be a central element in the course.
The projects should research, rethink, innovate and detail the following layers:
- MOBILITY: How is our area connected to the territory, and in it self? What is the role of cars in the contemporary city? Which are its alternatives? How can we think a more humane and ecological network of multispeed mobility?
- FREE SPACE: How do we articulate a complex and functional free space system within the area? How can we think over the duality private-public, and formulate common and shared free space typologies? How can a well programmed free space build the urban support of a new urban tissue?
- BUILT MASS: How do the buildings create a lively and well defined urban space? How can we create diversity, plurality and complexity in the urban space with a proper typological mix?
- PROGRAM: How do we make city instead of mere urbanization? How do we activate the public space with commercial, cultural and social activities?