The quality of urban space is not determined solely by the formal and technological level of the architecture, as it also depends on other factors, such as experiential reality, tangible and intangible services, objects, stores, etc., and, more importantly, it depends on the life practices of people inhabiting that space. Nowadays it is clear that architecture may no longer be viewed as a concept that can encompass in itself the entire sense of space, and it is but an element in a broader network of relationships between a variety of subjects - natural and artificial, animate and inanimate, real and virtual - making up the living and evolving space of design.
In these new and heterogeneous conditions, architectural design resembles more and more the work of a director: a sort of curatorial practice that entrusts the quality of space not merely to its formal and permanent characteristics but also to its dynamic, multidimensional aspects, its possible uses, the experience and activities of the people who inhabit that space.
Course activities will consist of intensive planning and design work centering around possible new layouts for public urban space, for which selected areas and the relative cartographic materials will be supplied.
In laboratory activities great importance is attached to a first-hand knowledge of the project area and the possibility to address real problems and exchange views with people living in the areas of interest. For this reason, laboratory work will focus on projects for areas in and around Milan and their current necessities.
The proposed approach contemplates a combined use of different skills, from planning to architectural design, from interior design to installation, utility and landscape design. The students will be flanked by instructors from the aforementioned disciplines, who will assist them in conducing direct experiences with the city areas and the life that takes place within them, both through observation and through hands-on work and practice sessions consistent with the complex scenarios affecting the quality of space in todays’ urban environments. In the laboratory, new design approaches will be tested out, whereby traditional master plan and plano-volumetric design modalities are supplemented with resources and strategies that view a city project as a situational, multicentred and inclusive ‘work in progress’.
Surveys and practical work in the field will be conducted in alternation with classroom work where the students will be assisted by their teachers and by tutors specialising in the various design disciplines, from planning to architectural and landscape design.
The students will produce both graphic materials describing the project and scale models of parts and/or the entire project.
The course will be delivered according to three parallel modalities:
- Lectures and seminars held by faculty members and guest lecturers ;
- Practice sessions in the field, to conduct surveys and get to know the context, as well as to identify design themes and resources (movement, balance, sound, etc.);
- Project conception, development and production.
A study trip to a European city deemed significant in connection with the issues addressed may be organised, if the necessary arrangements can be made and the students are available to participate.