Improvement of public spaces

During 2010 and 2011, with the support of the architect Andres Kipar and Studio LAND, the Riccardo Catella Foundation concentrated its attention on the design of the urban landscape and public spaces, with the aim of  developing a format for “district level” improvement plans which could be replicated in various parts of the city, with a view to continuity over time.

Aims of the project

Selection of the areas

Via Borsieri

Piazzale Archinto

Aims of the project

  • to promote a focus on urban quality of life, innovation and sustainability in the design of the urban landscape and public spaces;
  • to develop a  “grass roots” planning process, involving the city’s residents with the aim of responding to their needs-problems and offer innovative, really effective way of using urban spaces;
  • to encourage public-private synergy in design, implementation and subsequent management to provide better quality in public spaces;
  • to foster a culture of civic responsibility, leading residents to feel ownership of and help to maintain public spaces. The Foundation bases its work on the conviction that when a location is improved in response to criteria suggested by the local community, people will be encouraged to use it well and keep it in good condition.

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Selection of the areas

The Foundation decided to put the objectives outlined above into practice in two improvement projects in the Isola district, which provide innovative solutions to problems related to the quality of life in the area emerging from the direct dialogue with residents, associations and retailers that the Foundation has been conducting for years, with the aim of providing a better quality of urban landscape. The Isola district was chosen as part of a wider improvement strategy on which the Foundation is already engaged, with the support of its founding partners and supporting organisations, which has already included a series of initiatives:

  • the renovation of the building which how houses the Foundation's headquarters- 2007;
  • the installation of a number of items of playground equipment also suitable for differently abled children, as part of the “Park of Children’s Rights” in the park at via De Castillia 28 – 2008;
  • the transfer of the Isola District War Memorial by C. Ramous to Piazzale Segrino, together with the restoration of the garden where it was placed, on the request of the residents of the Isola district and in cooperation with the Milan City Council, District 9 Council and the local associations – 2009;

 

The two projects undertaken in 2010 and 2011 also form part of the Development Programme for the Isola Urban Retail District (Isola “DUC”) run by the Milan City Council and a number of partners, including the Riccardo Catella Foundation.

 

In this context, further to the regeneration programme planned with community input already undertaken during 2009 (the transfer of the war memorial to P.le Segrino and the renovation of the garden around it) the Foundation undertook a liaison and dialogue programme with the community in the Isola district - the residents, the retailers, the associations and the District Council - to identify the public areas for inclusion in an improvement project to resolve serious problems affecting the quality of life in the area and enable the local people to increase their use of public spaces. Two areas were designated by Isola district residents and retailers as top priority in any district amelioration project: via Borsieri, the district’s main street, and Piazzale Archinto.

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Via Borsieri

With regard to the improvement of via Borsieri, the Foundation played an important role, providing coordination, direction and liaison with the local community during the planning and subsequent implementation of the project, carried out during April and May 2011 by the City Council. The work done in Via Borsieri involved the resurfacing of the pavements with stone, the installation of a watering system for the flowerbeds, which were also planted, and the repair and replacement of the traffic bollards. During the realisation of the project, the guidelines for the choice of outdoor furnishings to be installed by the retail stores and business, another means of upgrading the street’s appearance, were also defined.

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Piazzale Archinto

As well as its role of direction and liaison with the local community during the design phase in support of the local government during the improvement of Via Borsieri, the Foundation also coordinated the finalisation of a project for the upgrading of Piazzale Archinto to provide an innovative solution to the key problems relating to the area’s urban quality in terms of increased safety, urban furnishing and the potential for its active use by residents (including families with children, given that there is a primary school next to the square, and the many elderly people who live in the buildings overlooking the square, and customers of the businesses around it).

This project is a fine example of synergy between the public and private sectors, achieved thanks to the work of the Foundation, which:

  1. identified the area for improvement and the problems to be resolved through its liaison activities with the local community;
  2. developed the design for the project with the aid of Studio Land, bearing in mind the problems to be overcome and continuing the dialogue with the district to verify approval of the decisions taken;
  3. maintained contact with the City Council Planning Departments during the design phase to ensure compliance with the constraints relating to subsequent maintenance of the area and reaching agreement with regard to the preliminary preparation of the project area by the City Council;
  4. found Industry Partners willing to contribute to the realisation of the project: Peverelli for the gardens, Giochisport, Modo and Legnolandia for the urban furniture and Giuseppe Amaro for the direction of the works and safety coordination.

Work was completed in early December and the square was inaugurated on 14 December 2011.

 

With these genuine projects, carried through on the ground, developed and implemented with the aid of the residents, retailers and district associations and with the large-scale operational involvement of the local government planning departments, the Foundation also aims to foster a community spirit of responsibility amongst the residents, encouraging them to keep the upgraded areas in good condition in the long term and discouraging neglect and vandalism of these zones through the joint effort made to improve them. The Foundation is convinced that it is necessary to develop a “grass roots” model of urban planning, which involves local communities in the design phase to trigger process by which the residents involved will then care for the upgraded area, as part of an extended “community urban landscape” approach.

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