URBAN PLANNING THEMATIC STUDIO
BUILDING UPON EXISTING STRENGTHS – CONTINUITY AND INNOVATION IN RESEARCH AND EXCHANGE
Planning, urban design and architecture are interlinked when addressing the urgent topics of our time – continuing urbanization, a pressure to make our cities more livable and ecological, urban revitalization of existing neighborhoods and housing developments that not only contribute to these topics, but also secure affordability.
The studio will follow an integrated approach that does not primarily address housing with a concentration on the design of exceptional buildings, but rather as an engine of innovation in community-building, supporting the interaction of buildings with the neighborhood, sustainability and technology.
The urban design Studio is conceived as “an open platform for teaching and research that encourages
- experiments by students and the exchange of multiple positions.
- the critical analysis of urban design conventions and the conception of innovative urban design plans. The transfer of knowledge is accompanied by research and experiments of all aspects of urban living.
- a wide variety of conceptual design depending on the content and design methods introduced in the course.
- an interactive exchange of different positions in research by the team, the guests and the students in lectures, workshops and discussions.
INTERDISCIPLINARY WORKING METHODS
These methods include the work within the studio, an open platform for exchange and an incubator for innovative design. The studio in relation to urban design, spatial development, urban and housing policies, and sustainability will be a focus with the goal to cross borders between planning, urban design and architecture.
A close link and synergies will be drawn with the Housing & Neighborhoods studio in the MSc in Urban Planning and Policy Design program, with students working on the same study area south of Milan that encompasses at least two neighborhoods (Boifava-Abbiategrasso, Gratosoglio) with a high incidence of social housing. These are areas characterized by the early deterioration of buildings (from the ‘60s), the underuse of ground floors (in particular, few shops), as well as low-quality public spaces (especially large slabs and green plots with no identity and no use). Few resources for requalification have been allocated there in the last decades. On the social side, there are older inhabitants at risk of becoming isolated, a concentration of migrants and an incidence of drop-outs and NEETs among the young.
On the other side, it is an area with a strong presence of public agencies and third sector actors who work especially with older people, children and teenagers and are trying in an increasingly more coordinated way to attract funds for requalification, plan social activities and build projects that might become start-ups for the self-employment of local young people. This informal board and have good relations with several local actors will grant a good referents and a qualified audience to the outcomes of our work.
The interdisciplinary approach is also highlighted by the integration in Urban Sociology. Changes in the demographic and socio-economic structure of our societies lead to changes in the city and its structure. New social risks emerge, altering the aspect of some neighborhoods and making some of them more vulnerable than others. The on-going changes also require public authorities to find new ways of solving problems. The social makeup of an area, along with understanding of whom its residents and users are (and their needs and aspirations), is also a relevant aspect to consider when planning urban designs and revitalization actions.
EXPECTED LEARNING OUTCOMES
TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE
Lectures and participatory workshops will give an overview of the historical development of urban design up to the present day in Europe, with a focus on residential areas, and analyze the reciprocal influences of settlement patterns, climate, changes in society and political influences.
The existing planning and urban design conventions will be analyzed critically with regard to their carbon footprint, as well as to their adaptability to cultural and demographic changes in society. Having understood these correlations, innovative concepts that respond to these transformations can be thought of.
IN-DEPTH UNDERSTANDING OF SUSTAINABILITY AND RESILIENCE CONNECTED TO INTERDISCIPLINARITY
The urgent topics of today have to be addressed in an interactive and interdisciplinary approach, i.e., ecology cannot be confined only to the design of energy-efficient buildings, but also has to address planning topics, e.g., settlement patterns and mobility or social topics, e.g., the influence of user behavior in energy-consumption, e.g., in climate responsive design, building orientation with regard to solar exposure, energy-efficiency, the design of carbon neutral communities, urban revitalization, supporting alternative eco-friendly mobility and stimulating a pedestrian-friendly public environment.
URBAN REVITALIZATION – TRANSFORMATION
A topic that is currently at the forefront of sustainable housing is urban revitalization.
This can be:
Residential neighborhoods from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s
The revitalization of residential neighborhoods from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by densification and introduction of new uses to achieve a livelier mixed-use environment leading to the transformation of former purely residential and monofunctional apartment buildings towards more flexibility and mixed-use. It includes the redesign of the slab buildings to today’s standard of living, e.g., by adding balconies.
Case study: IBA Stadtumbau (Urban Renewal) 2010 in Sachsen-Anhalt, Köthen, Halle, Dessau
Case study: Paris, Tour Bois le Prêtre – Paris 17 – Druot, LACATON VASSAL, transformation of a 16-story high rise block built in the 1960s along the ring road of Paris, with generous extensions of the apartments, enlarged windows, new terraces and balconies.
COMMUNITY BUILDING WITH AFFORDABLE HOUSING – LEARNING FROM VIENNA
The City of Vienna is recognized worldwide for its high quality of social housing which rests on the four pillars of urban and architectural quality, ecology, social sustainability and economy, but also for its progressive and forward-looking approach to property development by safeguarding its own land and integrating social, affordable and market housing in all parts of the city, thereby avoiding segregation and gentrification. This system is unique and, in light of today’s enormous housing crisis in all growing world capitals, is considered as one of the most progressive approaches to confronting current and future problems and offering solutions to the housing crisis for other cities. Therefore, it is frequently presented as a role model on how to still offer affordable housing in a growing metropolis.
Urban designers and architects conceive new concepts of urban integration, the linkage between existing and new settlements, social interaction, or building typologies and technologies.
With regard to the other present challenge at hand – the shrinkage and overaging of the population in small towns and rural areas, the depleting resources associated with the depopulation, and the resulting necessity to rethink prevailing housing typologies, e.g., densify neighborhoods of single-family houses, and redesign apartment buildings of the 1960s and 1970s and the surrounding open spaces – the IBA Stadtumbau (Urban Renewal) in Saxony-Anhalt developed highly innovative solutions for one of the regions in Europe with the highest loss of population after 1989. Both of these topics are relevant for the assignment. We will provide an overview of and an insight into the assessment of the current situation and evaluate previous initiatives in order to accomplish a thorough analysis.
GROUP WORK AND EXERCISES
Students will work on two Milan neighborhoods: Boifava-Abbiategrasso and Gratosoglio.
These neighborhoods are located in the southern part of the city and are particularly interesting because, on the one hand, they highlight all the major problems that characterize some of the disadvantaged suburbs of modern cities (strong presence of neglected social housing, deteriorating buildings from the 60s-70s, few available services, aging historical population, risk of segregation patterns for migrant population, high quota of youth outside the education or labor market). On the other hand, they are also characterized by a lively presence of local associations and third sector actors that work with some of the most at-risk people (elderly, teenagers and migrants), proposing new projects and trying to attract more funds for requalification.
The students are expected to analyze these areas on site, review the exemplary references that will be presented from comparable situations (see bibliography), discuss similarities and differences, e.g. to Paris, develop their own design solutions to address the challenges and problems, there will be flexibility with regard to the type of proposals, they could either be in the public realm and / or also address the buildings themselves, especially the plinth, ground-floor uses, entries, private open spaces, etc.