The Town Planning and Urban Design Studio activity is aimed at allowing the students to get the main necessary elements to deal with the topics of urban transformations and regeneration processes. The teaching approach is structured by means of the integration of the disciplines of Urbanism and Urban and Architectural Design.
In our approach to urban design teaching, we agree with the definition of urban design as “the collaborative and multi-disciplinary process of shaping the physical setting for life in cities, towns and villages; the art of making places … (UDG)” and with Peter Buchanan’s statement that “urban design lies somewhere between the broad-brush abstractions of planning and the concrete specifics of architecture. It implies a notion of citizenship: life in the public realm. It is not just about space, but time as well”.
The main goal of the teaching activity is to allow the students to get the proper tools for the interpretation of the characters of the project site and of its context, taking in account the specificity of the development of modern and contemporary Milan, where the project areas are located. The framework of strategic and regulatory contents of the planning tools for the orientation and control of transformations – and specifically of the recently approved PGT - will be also considered as an important element of the projects organization.
The final outcome required to the students is the realization of the master plan (1:2000) of a study and project area, located in the eastern sector of Milan, between the compact tissues of the inner city and the peri-urban space. The areas selected and proposed to the students to develop their projects belong to two typologies: brownfields or semi-abandoned areas where new developments are forwarded by the new planning tools of the city; neighbourhoods where the urban fabric needs interventions of requalification and sometimes of densification, in a context generally poor in urban quality, specifically as far as the public spaces are concerned. The master plan, completed with plans of the territorial context and of details and models of the various elements of the urban project, is meant as a tool to control - eventually with alternative solutions - the functional and spatial issues and the quality of urban space.
A theoretical approach will be addressed to the definition and meaning of quality of the urban space, trying to explore, by means of case studies, what is important to give quality to urban space and what affects it. Another key issue of the theoretical and operational approach is sustainability, considered in its different aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability as the necessary background of contemporary urban design.
The institutional scenery of the local projects that the students are required to propose is the Milan’s city plan recently approved: we will specifically consider one of the issues of the new city plan, that is the identification of neighbourhood units to which projects will be referred, aimed at enhancing the quality of public spaces and of public facilities, to improve accessibility and relations with the territorial context, creating opportunities of local economic development. The goal of realizing mixed communities and green corridors avoiding the creation of segregated and gated urban spaces is considered, also in the perspective of the dynamics related to the implementation of the Expo 2015 program.
Most of the documents concerning the study and project areas will be uploaded for the students by the teachers’ team, while some time will be dedicated to the direct knowledge of the sites, by means of surveys and inspections.
At the beginning of the Studio activity, students are individually asked to explore the given site following some of the thematic issues suggested by the tutors, selecting their research methodology in a bland of objective information and subjective interpretation; and to convey the findings into a notebook, a graphically and conceptually - although informally organized - booklet which will be delivered at the end of the activity. This kind of exercise is very important to create some "common ground" for the conceptualization of design issues that we consider very important for our approach to urban design, such as the interpretation of the relationship between the site and its context and the understanding of their typo-morphological features.
The projects will be developed in two main steps. For the first step, project areas will be posted to groups of 2-3 students who will realize a synthetic diagnostic of the context and of the area’s problems and opportunities and outline the main strategic issues and guidelines for their transformation. The interdisciplinary approach due to the integration of Urbanism, Urban and Architectural Design and to the different cultural background of the international students are taken as an opportunity to create an educational environment where the learning atmosphere has some aspects close to the professional experience.
After the discussion and approval of the strategic issues, the groups will develop specific and detailed proposals for focus areas and for the masterplan.
The control of the contents of the proposal at different scales and its coherence with the territorial and local institutional background are main requirements of the design activity.
Individual reports about selected case studies and readings will be also required to students after the Christmas holidays.
In addition to class attendance and studio assignments, students should set aside time each week to gather information and images on urban projects of interest. We will maintain an archive of urban projects in the online studio folder, into which students can drop materials for everyone to be used as a research resource.
Tools: a consistent production of quick and effective physical study models, especially while students are in the classroom, will be highly regarded and encouraged as the primary means of expression. Advanced graphic skills are also welcome.
Workshops for the discussion and evaluation of the projects are organized during the semester with the participation of Italian and foreign academics and practitioners.
Contemporary urban design in our cities: the close relationship between public spaces and sustainable mobility
Present-day changes in the use of public spaces are linked to urban mobility and transport and hence to the nature of roads and streets. How can we interpret them in relation to the original function and “etymology” of such features? How can we bring to bear a more aware, more interdisciplinary, approach in order to define new instruments and techniques for the designing and planning of such city spaces, which are increasingly seen as integral parts of the networks required by complex systems of mobility?
In response to these questions, this class focuses upon certain key features in order to define some principles and approaches to urban design that might achieve such an interdisciplinary method. It aims to identify specific solutions for the handling of the spaces between roads and buildings, for the design of street layouts and public urban spaces in general: “context-sensitive approaches”, “site specific” criteria, flexible design standards, “inclusive design” are some of these new proposed features.
Through a cross-reading of the relationship between urban mobility and public spaces, this class intends to propose a critical approach to urban design as a complex discipline, in which also transportation techniques, such as traffic calming, can be integrated and included in the toolbox of urban designers.
The methodology develops upon some suggested theoretical precepts to look at concrete applications, outlining a set of instruments that might be used in planning and designing public spaces as well as urban streets: these instruments form an overall toolkit of design features. By this way the class proposes also a toolkit to be used as a practical instrument for action on a local scale. The aim is to define a coordinated framework of principles and “type” solutions associated with the various practices of urban planning, starting from the design and planning of streets and city “routes” (these “routes” to be understood in the widest possible sense as embracing the entire network of public open spaces and paths).
The goal of the studio is to investigate the relationship between town planning strategies, landscape urbanism and architectural design issues. The module aims to stimulate a critical insight on some particular issues involved in contemporary architectural design. Towards these themes we will pay attention to the characters of the physical context, to the residual spaces and to the features of the places as conceptual and operative tools for design.
The aim is to improve the students’ skinless in "reading" the urban fabric at different scales and in different urban conditions and to use the masterplan as a tool to shape space through the approach of urban and architectural design.
Lectures and reviews will focus theoretical points of view, methods, techniques and tools concerning the morphological description of urban settlements and to outline the architectural strategies entailed in urban design.
Three exercices (shelling operations) are the operational tools to develop the relationship between urban and architectural design, to produce an interpretative map of the context, reading in a simultaneous way the urban materials, the buildings' types and the shape of the different spaces involved in the urban observation.