The challenge of urban regeneration is won by small cities. Cremona launches the Youth in the Center project with a historic building and a reorganization that focuses entirely on the new generations

Space is a pipe dream for young adults. An expensive and strangely ephemeral chimera, along with many other basic needs for existence in large urban areas: efficient schools, rentable housing. The deputy mayor of Cremona Andrea Virgilio understood this and saw a solution to a problem that afflicts his city: old age.

Cremona is a city with a large elderly majority, which lacks that transgenerationality that ensures social well-being for all communities.

The solution is an urban reorganization of the city guidelines and an ad hoc restoration of the former San Francesco hospital, closed for years but in the liminal area of ​​the centre.Young people in the city strongis the ambitious and intelligent project which aims to make Cremona an attractive city for students and new families.

A project to include fragility

"What do young people ask of the city? Spaces to enhance different cultures, to be able to live, to be able to study. However, the different needs must be contaminated, creating a project that guarantees the possibility of dotting the city with events that crystallize within everyday life. bThere is then the theme of fragility, which should not be marginalized but included in a social mission".

This is Andrea Virgilio's comment. A thought that is part of an ethical stance taken by the institutions, in a climate of effective governance which, in simple words, opens up strategic thinking on how to invest economic resources to do the common good.

Mario Cucinella: “Small towns have the conditions to be truly regenerative”

Mario Cucinella, who designed the New Hospital and the Health Park of Cremona, assures that it will be the small centers that will make the significant difference. And perhaps to win, at least from the point of view of collective well-being, the challenge of implementing urban projects capable of being truly regenerative.

“It will take time, but small towns have all the conditions to facilitate liveable, affordable city models. The quality of life that medium-sized centers are able to offer relaunches a fundamental need, that of social relationships. The schools, the hospital, local services, university centres: that network of services which are real life spaces is already a systemic reality in small and medium-sized municipalities which, thanks to digital, leave imagine a large green city spread together by a pre-existing road network".

Expand the borders and spread the metropolis

So the answer, as Stefano Boeri also thinks, is to implement a satellite urban cosmogony. A solution that everyone likes, which unites those who believe that real estate development is the driving force of metropolises and a phenomenon to be supported by public administrations too.

And those who instead define their work in marginal areas, which do not enjoy that development, indeed, risk succumbing because of them.

In an interview recently given to the program "In half an hour" Boeri claimed that: "Our cities have grown by merging small towns. Returning to recognizing these realities and studying their provision of services is essential to redistribute a wealth that we have too often concentrated in the center or in a few places".

The concept of community, dear to the Milanese architect, is a key point for imagining living even outside the confines of the metropolis.

Alternative to the metropolis or satellite?

Cremona, and with it many others, are applying to be an alternative to Milan. The proximity to the capital has already made it the location for two important detached university centers of the Polytechnic and the Catholic University. But the concern of the city's public administration is to make students permanent, to convince them to choose Cremona as their place of residence, bringing the population balance back to a more sustainable balance from a social point of view.

Therefore, by 2027 the former San Francesco Hospital, already a church in past centuries, will be transformed into an urban place dedicated to young people's projects.

The project aims above all to have a social, cultural and economic impact on an entire neighborhood of the historic center, through interventions that can serve first of all the youngest segment of the city's population - children, adolescents, young people, students, young families - and attractiveness towards external audiences - off-site students, workers.

From this point of view, the foundations of the Youth in the Center strategy are based on the desire to support and harmonize three very important city resources: the human capital represented by young people, the material one represented by buildings and the immaterial one, represented by the social and cultural reach of the intervention, which cannot ignore the collaboration between the actors who, in different capacities, take part in the life of the city.