The Urban planning studio introduces urban design through the fundamentals of the discipline as a critical reading of the city and the territory at different scales, knowledge of theories and experiences of urban design and spatial planning of the twentieth century, the understanding of planning instruments in use and legal references and legislation. Further investigation is the understanding of the dynamics of territorial transformation in recent decades and the significant themes of the contemporary city (urban sustainability practices of living, material welfare, urban mobility, public space, regeneration and reuse). Through technical preparatory activity, the objective of the workshop is to develop the ability to design and theming material definition of an urban space, experiencing communication techniques and appropriate representation.
The aim of the course is to learn how cities are becoming urban regions and how the structures of the traditional city are evolving into something more articulated, in a more expanded physical and relational space.
The course will focus on a detailed reading of the different elements that compose the city, it will show the different typologies of spaces and structures that compose the city and it will give students some basic elements to read (analysis) and play with (project) the structures and the relations of a contemporary, western world city.
The course will investigate on some concept in urban planning, studying them under a new light. Large metropolis will give the chance to study how the relations between city, neighborhoods and suburbs have shifted including a more complex idea of region. The change of relations and scale will give the chance to learn how transport policies have changed, considering urban networks at a larger, more regional scale and opening the division between urban, suburban and metropolitan networks to a more integrated approach and more flexible use of every network. The specific design that urban transformations seem to have will give the chance to understand how new areas have been composed by different uses and functions, and how they combined open spaces with built up ones. Green areas, parks and open lands will be seen as pieces of larger networks, with recreational and environmental uses. Again, and above all, the arena that surrounds these projects is tremendously complex and articulated. Citizens, stakeholders, environmentalists, developers and policy/decisions makers compose all together a narrow pool, where each party decision collides with other ones. The result of the project, and the result of the physical transformation of an area is a specific balance of all different interests. Or, sometimes, a lack of balance and just the result of stronger powers against weaker ones.
The course aims at giving to students a broad variety of ideas and concept, but it focuses on a specific set of theories and a specific way to urban planning. As course taught at Polytechnic of Milano, School of Architecture, the course shows how urban planning is studied and theorized at this school. Upon the shoulder of Italian rationalism, with the teachings of some fathers of urban planning, after the long dispute between plans and projects and having understood how structure and strategy should compose in a good balance every plan, the teaching of Marco Facchinetti is focused on showing how Milan’s school balances the European way to urban planning, above all focusing on transformations, with an eye open to quality, design, urban composition, size of the cities and quality of life within them. It is not just a matter of mixing good techniques: it is a matter of understanding that every place is unique, and people who will live there should consider it as the best place in the world. Taking inspiration from specific moments in Italian planning (the idea of neighborhood as a social way of combining different levels of society and as urban typology between urban and suburban, the mix of uses every block has been called to host), considering many missing things that urban areas still show compared to others around Europe, students will learn Milan school approach to urban planning and techniques, with eyes open towards European trendies and western world practices. The specificity of the approach gives the possibility to join the international debate about planning and it shows how Milan’s department of architecture and urban studies (Dastu) combines the great and old tradition of plan together with the more recent tradition of policies, combining these two sides of the same territorial view about the cities.
The course is organized on five sections and through lectures, walking tours around some areas of the city of Milano, one students’ trip and in room workshops it will teach how modern and contemporary city has evolved and changed, time after time, following social, economic, institutional challenges. The analysis and the reading of the changes and transformations, as a reading technique, will give students a perspective over plans, projects and policies behind those changes and behind the evolution of the city.
The course, according to the different backgrounds and expertise of the two teachers (Marco Facchinetti and Valeria Fedeli), proposes two main points of view over the city but one technical approach according to the tradition and the cultural inspiration of Milan’s School of Architecture. City evolves and changes according to the way inhabitants and users change their lifestyles and needs and according to the way institutions (from public to private, from political to economic, from openly acting to secretly lobbying) are able to interpret, respect and enhance these needs and these values. During the history and during at least the last seventy years, changes and rapid growth have transformed many times the cities and above all the way their different parts act together and host human activities. Now, after years of massive growth, times of deep transformations and periods of crisis, cities have evolved once again, developing a new, intense relation with the urban regions around them. A more flexible structure, a opener relation between inside and outside are all symptoms of great changes.
The course aims at understanding and studying some specific issues, according to its being an intensive workshop on the first year of the academic career for students.
It aims at giving a wide perspective over urban planning, as a discipline, as a technique and as a culture. As a discipline, it has been “invented”, theorized and codified by some funding fathers, in the past and it evolved helping, assisting and dreaming the evolution of the city. As a technique, it changed many times the rules following which cities have been planned and re-planned and nowadays it presents different tools such as plans, projects, masterplans, policies, codes and handbooks able to assist the evolution of the city but also to give to the different behaviors of the city different approaches, from growth to transformation, from evolution to emergencies. As a culture, urban planning follows the mood of the culture that develops it, according to different cultural traditions, different local and regional ways of using it and above all according to different ways of interpreting the evolution of the city and the city itself, as a playground for different interests and values.
The course aims at presenting different ways of approaching urban planning and generally speaking the transformation of the city. There are, and there have been in history, more physical approaches to planning, according to a strong believe in plans and projects as the only tools able to present a vision over the future of the city and able to rule the way to get that vision done and realized. At the same time, there have been approaches able to recognize in different tools and different paths the correct way of dealing with urban changes and needs. The course will present a less physical approach, able to show how readings, hearings and policies can work differently in many cases and how these approaches have created a specific way of considering urban planning. Above all, the course will present Milan School’s approach, strongly related to the territory as a table to put urban planning theories and techniques on. The strong relation between architecture and urban studies gives life blood to this approach and it helps finding a specific way to the management of the cities and their changes.
According to these targets, the course proposes to students a very easy approach, able to summarize all these believes. The city is a dynamic structure made by built up and open systems and made by the way citizens and users use them. In its evolution, the city creates some images and some structures, more or less rigid. The course, starting from a more geographical and physical approach, will analyze different times in which the existing city has been done and built up and through this sight it will recognize structures, images, plans and policies behind every physical evidence. At the same time, always reading the existing different parts of the city, the course will help students understanding the way inhabitants and users use the city as an open books of behaviors, dreams and fears, and as a strange place where inhabitants can become citizens and users can become actors, according to the way city attracts them and to the way people can shape urban environments.
The course considers Milan as main reference and main research and activity field. Milan is a specific place and it is very convenient to use it as background for our studies. First of all, it is the place where we live, work, study and play. But, more importantly, the city has always been at the crossroad of many Italian and northern European cultures and practices. More or less, all the most important urban planning theories and techniques can be studied in Milan, using a specific case study or seeing/visiting a specific place. From the engineers’ thoughts of the end of XIX century to the most outrageous modern movement ideas, from reconstruction troubles after IIWW to the most recent trends in urban regeneration, the city of Milan has been dynamic enough but Italian enough to be used as perfect book of European urban planning ideas and practices and Italian feelings.
The course is organized into 5 sections. The first section aims at studying the city in its more historical and structured parts. It will analyze and study city center and the XIX century expansions. Above all, it will use these parts of the city to understand how they evolved, how they are considered now, between gentrification processes and emigrants’ needs. The course will help the analysis of all the policies that city centers are interested by, from infrastructural strategies to historic conservation, understanding their role in the way people consider cities and in the way contemporary uses are able to give value to the oldest parts of the city. This section of the course will give the chance to visit, during one walking tour, some parts of the inner section of the city of Milan, around the city center and the way they have been transformed recently. Since city center and the more historical expansion areas have been planned following plans and projects, except for the oldest, spontaneous historical parts, it will be easy to understand the idea of structure and elements that compose the city, such as green networks, pedestrian areas, shopping natural districts, transportation networks and so on.
The second section of the course aims at studying the growth of the city. All the western world cities, after the half of XIX century and even before somewhere else (North America), started a fast and furious process of growth. The old town centers were no longer large enough to host a growing population and their physical conditions were not able to ensure healthy living conditions to everybody. So, inhabitants and activities started moving outside the historical city walls, and together with them many new theories were thoughts and codified. From Garden City movements to utopias, from Rationalism to City Beautiful movement, all western world cities started inventing a different city, working on images, dreams, visions and architecture. Milan offers the chance to see many things about growth and about the way, according to different ideas, growth parts have been planned and built up. Growth processes started simultaneously to put forward new issues about urban planning, and the course will study the way modern cities faced these new topics, according to different national traditions and perspectives, reading new towns movement and understanding the Italian social housing policies of the “autonomous neighborhoods”.
The third Section, Decentralization, networks, poles, shows how the growth process, sometimes around the ’60s and the ’70s, started a new process of urban transformation. Showing less interest in the natural and homogeneous growth process around the existing city, or following some stronger directions as happened until then, many cities in the western world started throwing out of their boundaries big concentrations of uses and big transformations: shopping malls, residential gated communities, office complexes started invading the empty natural setting around the cities, creating discontinuity in the distribution of densities and some new difficulties in terms of networks, connections, transportation. The city started a strange process of expelling important and vital uses, facing a two-side problem: the need to reconnect the uses and the areas built up far away from the city boundaries and the need to reinvent the areas left abandoned in the city center.
So, the fourth section, Expanding into the Region, aims at studying the way the process of growth and the process of expelling important uses out of the city consolidated the so called suburban movement. The city itself started losing the centrality of its role, and it became one of the centers of a larger region of space where sprawl became the most recognizable feature. Above all, these processes brought to a more difficult way of reading and understanding the structure of the city. It became harder to use the same parameters and the same categories to study the new city, and it became important to find new plans and new tools to face larger and more important problems.
At the end of the course, the fifth section shows how recently the city melted in a wider, more organized urban region. Urban transformations, new investments in infrastructures and simultaneously a new movement back to the historic and compact city transformed once again the city, its perception and the way urban planning is supposed to work with it. The course will end studying some recent case studies in which the most interesting aspect of transformations is just this: they try to add ‘urbanity’ to places with different speeds, not necessarily compact or concentrated, not contiguous to other places, not historically characterized by compactness and urbanity. Many transformations are still in the cities centers, maybe because some areas missed the occasion of transformation’s first generation, but the majority is occurring in other places, not close to the city center, and able to reinvent the relations within urban regions. These transformations are creating episodes of urbanity all around the regions, re connecting disconnected areas, presenting themselves as points to be reached by major transportation facilities and showing their ability to create urban atmosphere.
The new urban feeling, the invention of a model where being ‘urban’ is cooler than before, the western culture of young, hipster, cultured and well dressed men and women find a perfect place in recent and contemporary transformations: urbanity, centrality, connectivity and sustainability are four of the paradigms that transformations bring with them and on which the course will focus on.