REDEVELOPMENT OF THE SUBURBS

SOME VIRTUOUS EXAMPLES


Renzo Piano has no doubts about the essential centrality of the suburbs in urban life: “The mission of architecture in this century is to save the suburbs. If we do not succeed, the result for our children will be both an urban and a social disaster”.
The world famous architect, whose best known and most important projects deal with the redevelopment of suburbs including  the Columbia University campus in Harlem, the Paris Law Courts on the borders of the northern suburbs and the new Saclay High School to the south of the capital, has in fact never made a secret of his interest in and tremendous attention paid to the care and redevelopment of suburban areas.

This mission of redevelopment, not just in terms of urban but also social planning often involves a renewal of infrastructures, roads, buildings, services, but also a path intended to create social cohesion. Redeveloping  means keeping the origins of a place in mind, preserving and improving them, but without depriving them of their identity.

"The identity of a project is not a question of whose signature it bears but of genius loci" states Mario Cucinella. “Each project must be contextualized and integrated and it must work and become an integral part of everyday life. The identity of a project must be linked to the building's ability to respond to a place and a precise requirement thus making each project different from every other one”

BY THE END OF 2017 IN ITALY, THE GOVERNMENT HAD APPROVED 120 PROJECTS AIMED AT SUBURBAN REDEVELOPMENT WITH A VALUE OF €3.8 BILLION  AND YET THERE ARE STILL FAR TOO MANY PERIPHERAL AREAS ABANDONED IN A STATE OF NEGLECT AND DEGRADATION. THE METHODS THROUGH WHICH INTERVENTIONS ARE ABLE TO IMPROVE, RENEW AND CHANGE A PLACE ARE MANY AND VARIED. 

LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME PROJECTS CURRENTLY UNDER WAY IN ITALY

The Giambellino case in the south-west area of Milan is a typical example of an intervention aimed at improving the housing situation in the neighbourhood. Prior to this project by Renzo Piano's G124 working group, nothing had ever been undertaken in this area. Reuniting the pedestrian footpaths, completing the park with equipment and spaces for new functions and breaking down the wall between the market and the park in order to create new shared spaces were just some of the points in the project proposal in which the inhabitants and the local network of associations and operators openly took part. The spirit of the project was therefore to sew together rather than build through using a sharing approach with those who live in the area.

Another example of peripheral redevelopment in Milan is seiMilano which will affect the Bisceglie area in the south-west of the city and whose masterplan was devised by the Mario Cucinella Architects studio with the collaboration of the famous French landscape designer Michel Desvigne.

The plan is based on the theme of the “garden city” which is modeled around a city created on a human scale and completely immersed in greenery. As such it is an intervention highlighted by openness and interaction with the city and featuring a strong symbiosis between architecture and landscape.

Image source www.seimilano.com

Mario Cucinella stated that the design of the masterplan stems from a fragmentation of space and the consequent desire to promote the permeability created between the park, residential sections, tertiary volumes, commercial spaces and the rest of the city with the final goal that of making the area alive 24 hours a day, safe and provided with its own identity capable of giving a sense of belonging.
By 2022 the former Geregnano quarry will be transformed into a new urban centre developed around the key concepts of sustainability and integration.

Two more virtuous examples in other parts of Europe

Architecture intended as a social mission is the core of the design for the Clichy-Monfermeil station of the Grand Paris Express by Benedetta Tagliabue. The plan includes not just the underground station itself but also the creation of a new square that will become the symbol of rebirth and change for a suburban area that has been abandoned and forgotten for too long. It is a part of the quest for maximum integration between access to the underground station and the urban context and the result is a pathway that invites people to leave the station and participate in the life of the square. 

Image source
www.mirallestagliabue.com/project/clichy-montfermeil-metro-station/

A new generation Vertical Forest  by Stefano Boeri Architetti will be a central part of the Wonderwoods project,  a plan for the redevelopment of the Jaarbeursboulevard  area near the Utrecht station.

A smart building able to communicate with the surrounding city thanks to both its ground floor which is open to the outside and adjoining  the neighbourhood and its upward development, which respects and enhances the size of the building located between Croeselaan and Jaarbeursboulevard. The area is intended to represent Utrecht’s new wellness centre.

Image source
www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/notizie/ad-utrecht-il-primo-bosco-verticale-olandese/