TOWN PLANNING DESIGN WS
Grazia Concilio, Talita Medina, Patrizia Scrugli
The city is the place where the challenge of sustainability is played and designing transformation is a dialogue, even harsh, between very different disciplines and knowledge, between theories and practices, between constraints and visions. Designing transformations is a complex alignment of difference and uniformity, immutability and instability, continuity and discontinuity.
There are no definite formulas or rules to design the city: there is a need to manage large margins of uncertainty over which the “project” cannot be considered as a definite or final product, it is rather a process in which actors constantly reconfigure in relation to temporary and ephemeral outcomes which, all together, shape the transformations. Therefore the focus is shifted to the project as a process: the production and organization of the city's spaces emerge from the project's “becoming”.
Far from being merely a future image or representation, the project interacts with the context (immaterially and materially), deforms it even before any transformation starts, involves it, collaborates with it. Fundamentally to such “project as process” are the actors who, in the cities, are the protagonists of transformations by playing very different roles: urban designers, citizen professionals, communities of interests and places, public institutions, and many others.
There are many resources available for urban transformation but the interaction mechanisms between them are far from being known and the project works in wide uncertain conditions: how does a green area work, or rather a parking lot? What phenomena will trigger in a peripheral public space? Will there be cyclists on a bicycle running? Who will be the users of a new public space? Many of these questions are not answered in the project as a prefiguration of the future but rather in the project as a process of transformation management, thus growing in complexity due to the high number of resources the city produces throughout its making.
The Town Planning Design WorkShop (from now on TPD-WS) will interpret the theme of urban planning and design by looking at the city as a socio-environmental system in which transformations result in and from intense dialogues between spatial contexts and actors throughout the making of a project. Within this vision of project, the TPD-WS provides three disciplinary contributions:
Urban planning and governance. This contribution will be under the responsibility of Grazia Concilio, and basically refers to making explicit the criticalities regarding the governance of planning and managing urban transformations. This domain will be operationally experienced by students due to the deep interaction the TPD-WS will have with a real urban transformation process and its actors: the creation of the Grande Parco Forlanini. The governance of urban transformation will be discussed theoretically and in practice and will feed the whole TPD-WS.
Urban design for green infrastructures. This part will be driven by Talita Medina and starts from the idea that the spatial development should no longer produce an outcome that is static and permanent. Instead, it should imagine a timeline of actions that work as catalysers promoting a continual process of gradual change.
Architectural design in a multi-scalar approach. Patrizia Scrugli will be responsible for this contribution, whose aim will be boosting awareness about the key role physical transformations can play in wide urban changes. This with the consciousness that there is not a scale more correct than another to work in within these complex processes. Architecture is by definition a chaotic adventure (Koolhaas, 1995) in which coherence and targets must be reconfigured every time according with inputs coming from the context, the society and the real opportunities.
1.2. The spatial focus: the Grande Parco Forlanini
The TPD-WS will be mainly focussed on the area of the Grande Parco Forlanini (GPF) in the eastern area of Milano. This park is currently in a condition to be connected, completed and activated. Two parts of it are old parks of the Milano metropolitan area in proximity of the Linate airport: the old Forlanini Park and the Idroscalo Park. Both belong to the so-called area of Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, a large agricultural land bordering the urban area of Milano from east to west throughout the south borders. Also, the GPF includes another area only recently annexed to the park; this area is mainly agricultural but infrastructure with bike-lanes and play-grounds.
The whole GPF area is cut by the Lambro river although the city-users are barely aware of its presence: the Lambro river is part of a wider plan aimed at recovering it from pollution and benches “artificialization”. Parallel to the river a huge highway infrastructure underlines this cut and makes the park hard to be perceived as a whole in its incredible richness of spaces and practices opportunities.
Finally, the GPF lays in two different municipalities that hardly coordinate and reciprocate their actions although recently they showed the common intention to align their interventions in the area to have an entire valuable metropolitan park.
The TPD-WS will be oriented to reflect on the park as a whole and to create transformative scenarios to reduce the current material and immaterial (some key actors show opposition behaviour to the creation of the park) dis-connections. The entire work will be carried out considering the complex geography of actors acting in the park area and possibly contributing to its making.
1.3. Structure of the WS
The workshop activities will be organized along three sets of activities:
- Exploring the area
- Visiting the site
- Criticalities and resources
- Transformation concept
- Strategic agenda
- Designing the transformation
- Scenario development
- Master plan
The TPD-WS will be composed of several activities: lectures of the teaching staff, seminars and WS with key actors and experts, design work. A complete agenda will be supplied to students on day one of the teaching activities.
2. THREE DIMENSIONS OF THE TOWN PLANNING DESIGN WORKSHOP
2.1 Urban Planning and Governance (Concilio G.)
This section will have two different focuses, a theoretical and an operational one, and will aim at making the students aware of the complex governance developing along through urban transformation initiatives.
The theoretical focus aims at showing the multiple dimensions of governance in urban planning. Usually referred to the mechanisms of decision making, and the distribution of power, governance will be presented as an observational framework of several elements and factors contributing to the management of urban transformation: knowledge, actors’ roles, data and information, decision power will be discussed into this perspective.
Operationally, students will be asked to analyse and capture the geography of actors involved in the making of Grande Parco Forlanini. This work will be carried out in relation to several of the processes currently in action in the area and will be considered while developing design and transformation scenarios.
2.2. Urban Design for green infrastructure (Medina T.)
The traditional Masterplan (urban design project) is not anymore the right tool to imagine and to project the city of the future. Cities are fastly changing and the planning tools need to change to be able to catch the uncertainties and manage to improve the liveability and habitability of the urban settlements. The spatial development should no longer produce an outcome that is static and permanent. Instead, it should imagine a timeline of actions that work as catalysers promoting a continual process of gradual change
The green infrastructure is where we can test new planning tools and the green materials are the elements available to transform the space in a continuous process along the time.
Students will be asked to imagine the future, starting from the present conditions, and to imagine creative tools to achieve the vision using time x space x urban materials.
2.3 Architectural design in a multi-scalar approach(Scrugli P.)
Aim of the module of Architectural Design is to gain a better insight on urban context and to boost a renovate awareness about the impact of physical transformations in complex environments.
Concretely, this means to develop a vision for the case-study area, Grande Parco Forlanini (GPF), working at different scales of detail, from a strategic point of view till a site-specific design definition (if required), taking into account the strong relationships between architecture, infrastructure, landscape and current society in a multi-scale approach. This has to be considered as a key factor within this course since students will be stimulate to overcome the traditional strategy top-down, with a more sensitive bottom-up approach, thanks to a deep knowledge of local conditions and stakeholders’ ambitions.
Lessons will cover different issues, from abstract to practical ones, aiming to develop a renovate sensitiveness about architectural design in the urban realm.
Last but not least, one of the purposes of the module will be to reflect on the most effective techniques of communication and representation of design contents according with the finalities of each project and in coherence with the main goal of the WorkShop.
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