Cities need a design shake-up. A new generation of urban planners clearly says it, with Carlos Moreno and Janette Sadik-Khan in the front row.
The conversation about the present and future of cities has become a global movement, involving megacities around the world. Including Milan, which in recent years has activated reparative regeneration projects, from the tactical urbanism interventions of Open Squares to pedestrianize squares and urban hubs, quickly and at almost zero cost.
Up to large investments on the edge of the suburbs, the result of an analysis of the areas of San Siro, Scalo di Porta Romana and the north-eastern suburbs starting from Piazzale Loreto.
LOC - Loreto Open Community: the new square
There is a lot of talk about this last hub periphery/centre. The LOC - Loreto Open Community project is the work of Nhood, a private partner of the Municipality of Milan and winner of the C40 Reinventing Cities tender.
From no man's land that marks the border between the city and the suburbs to a point of convergence in which the permeability between the different areas aims to repair and remedy the social fabric of the area.
Carlos Moreno spoke about it at length during a Lectio Magistralis at the Milan Triennale at the end of May. LOC will in fact be the first urban experiment in Milan inspired by the theories of the 15-minute city.
What will LOC look like?
Imagine a green island, a space where you can stop for a chat, take the children to play and at the same time access basic services and collective places, pedestrian and cycle paths.
A project that aims to bring beauty and human space to the city and all its inhabitants.
This is how Andrea Boschetti, head of design and founding partner of Metrogramma, describes it: “LOC is a regeneration project that focuses on the sense of community as glue between parts of the city, is the symbolic project of a new era of urban projects oriented towards cities that must be rethought to be brought closer to citizens.
In this sense, the new Piazza Loreto should also be read as a contribution of architecture to a new world".
Carlos Moreno: “A humane and sustainable alternative”
Carlos Moreno: “I theorized the concept of 'quarter hour city' in 2016 to propose a humane and sustainable alternative to the dominant technological smart city concepts.
The concept has since gone from theory to reality, with concrete applications around the world.
Paris was the first city to transform itself following the guidelines and objectives of the 15-minute city. Under the leadership of Anna Hidalgo the project was implemented from 2019-2020 through several actions: pedestrianization of the center of Paris and the streets in front of the schools, opening of the recreation classes for weekend use, revegetation of streets and sidewalks, multiplication of cycle paths, creation of city kiosks…”
Put the community back at the centre
Moreno's proposals convince everyone, because they substantially put the urban community back at the centre, the people. According to the urban planner, who is scientific director of the 'Entrepreneurship, Territory, Innovation' chair at the Sorbonne, those who live in cities have endured the unbearable for a long time.
Cities designed to be experienced inside a car, lack of social spaces and proximity services, abandoned and unused public and private buildings, poor rationalization of existing resources.
The solution is quite clear and aims above all to ensure that citizens regain possession of the collective space thanks to interventions on territorial hardware.
Piazzale Loreto is a magnificent example of degeneration and abandonment. An enormous space used as a hub for traffic entering and leaving Milan, which marks the passage between the north-eastern suburbs and Milan for drinking, which begins right here with Corso Buenos Aires, one of the longest shopping streets in the world.
Carlo Masseroli, Nhood: “Restoring urban functionality”
Numerous players participated in the Nhood project and it is an interesting case history of collaboration between those who carry out social issues, such as the Social Housing Foundation, the Municipality of Milan, Metrogramma, coordinator of the design consortium of the LOC - Loreto Open Community square and private investors.
Carlo Masseroli, former councilor of the Municipality of Milan and strategy and development director of Nhood, shortly before the Lectio Magistralis wishes: "An ever greater collaboration between private investors and city institutions on projects that tend to improve urban life and restore human, social and economic functionality to many abandoned areas”.
Given the criticality of the topic that calls for more than an ideological position, we ask how the collaboration between private investors and institutions on projects of public interest could be improved.
The answer is very realistic: nothing stops the rise of the real estate economy, the best prospect is that the Municipality is an active partner in this growth.
The new square will cost 80 million euros
The balance between social and economic needs is always fragile. Milan is a city that currently costs its citizens more than they can afford and the virtuosity of urban interventions is polluted by the consequent gentrification of the suburbs.
But the fact remains that Carlos Moreno is right: the city must take an interest in the community and projects like LOC are a good and inevitable example of partnership and balance between the reasons of the economy and the reasons of the citizens.
With an estimated total investment of around 80 million euros, Nhood will transform piazzale Loreto into a meeting place returned to the community.
The agora will be connected to NoLo to ensure continuity of the corso Buenos Aires/viale Monza/viale Padova axis, and will fit into the urban fabric generating a positive impact on the territory calculated through the SROI indicator ( Social Return On Investments) which was equal to 4 compared to the investment (for 1 euro invested 4 euro of impact on the territory).