The future that will come
A new normality
The widespread city, neighbourhoods on a human scale
From city planning to urban life planning
The health emergency caused by Covid-19 has confronted us with the need to rethink the spaces in which we live, living our homes, workplaces and, more generally, our cities in a profoundly different way. In this context, the activity of the designer becomes essential to support the necessary change towards sustainable models and styles that meet the needs of safety, comfort, access to rights, equality.
It is necessary, now more than ever, to give life to the so-called “Quarter Hour Cities”, urban areas where neighbourhoods – both new and already existing – become living and vital parts of cities (not dormitory neighbourhoods), available to the communities living there. The neighbourhoods of the future will have to allow citizens to live within an ecosystem rich in networks of relationships, proximity services as well as places for outdoor activities and also coworking spaces to integrate the possibility of working at a distance.
In this way, it will be possible to overcome the traditional dichotomy between centre and periphery, opening up the opportunity to invest in the redevelopment of suburban areas, so that they find new conditions of vitality.
Buildings to reconcile private life and work needs
Flexibility becomes central to the design. Our way of living and working is changing quickly and with constantly renewed and different needs: we work from home, in public places, in shared spaces or outdoors, trying to adapt and find a balance between work, personal and social life. Flexibility is therefore the key concept from which design must start to respond to this new way of “urban living”, proposing modular, integrated and functional solutions.
The concept of “home” evolves to allow a multiplicity of destinations of use: it is no longer just a place to return to after a long day out but a place to stay to live fully, work, spend free time alone or in company. The direction to follow is therefore that of creating economically sustainable housing units according to criteria of adaptability, re-functionalisation and sharing, which centralise specific functions and meet the contingent needs of those who live in them. This is also valid for extension within the same residential building, where it becomes increasingly important to design common, open-air, green spaces that serve as enablers of sociality among residents.
A historical-architectural heritage to be transformed
The transformation of cities must start from the re-use of existing building stock.
The neighbourhoods of the future must be highly specialised, integrated and served, capable of continuous renewal to adapt to the needs of the inhabitants.
Old buildings can be recovered to become co-working and co-housing spaces, reactivating a disused or peripheral urban fabric, convents can become hospitals, churches, schools or workplaces.
Italy is among the countries with the largest architectural and building heritage in the world, a wealth to be protected in order to pass on the historical and identity values to future generations. But it is a heritage that is often in disuse and must be returned to the community. We have all the technical and cultural skills to safeguard an extraordinary heritage and transform it, at the same time, to respond to contemporary needs and satisfy new needs without necessarily having to consume new land.
Requalifying what we already have at our disposal is also fundamental because it allows us to reduce the consumption of environmental resources, through conservative solutions and reuse in a logic of sustainability, without forgetting that it is often equally important to have the courage to carry out interventions to transform what has lost its identity value and that only through new functions and planning can it become a place of life again.
Between past and future
Infrastructure and sustainable mobility
Digitized, resilient and participatory intermodal transport hubs
Covid-19 has highlighted the need to accelerate the transition to modern, safe, efficient infrastructure and increasingly sustainable and accessible mobility. The new mobility will have to combine innovation, scientific research and digitisation to create solutions capable of supporting the industrial and economic growth of countries and improving the quality of life.
The infrastructures of the future will have to be interconnected through digital technologies for better and more efficient route and road planning with the sharing of public data information according to standards of transparency and security.
They will have to be resilient to adapt to climate change and high-impact phenomena such as the health emergency we are experiencing. They will have to be designed with the objective of facilitating the de-carbonisation of mobility, encouraging public and alternative mobility, made with closed-life, renewable, less impermeable and insulating materials.
They should be included in green and biocompatible corridors according to a systemic approach and shared spatial planning at national and local level.
Only from the creation of a system organisation is it possible to implement centralised innovation strategies for infrastructure networks, aimed at greater integration through intermodal hubs between existing infrastructure and new modes of transport, such as micro-mobility in sharing.
Politecnica has been following this path for several years now in numerous projects around the world: we are among the first design companies in Italy to apply the Envision® protocol, the main rating system in the creation of sustainable infrastructures, founded by the Institute For Sustainable Infrastructure of the USA.
Wismar Bridge Project, Guyana