It is not the number of trees we plant nor the aesthetic impact of plants and flowers that improves the quality of urban greenery. What we need is a landscape that becomes an infrastructure, a livable public space and a tool for social cohesion

* Andreas Kipar, co-founder of LAND (Landscape Architecture Nature Development) studio

From those who design the territory, today, it is right to expect the creation of an urban landscape quality, that is, usable spaces at the micro-scale level, but also concrete answers to the most urgent environmental challenges. In short, every solution, however local, must also act at the macro-scale level and have an impact on a wider ecological-environmental network.

To do all this, a new landscape language is needed: one that does not consider green as an ornament (it still happens) or that measures its successes on the quantity of plantings but that considers nature, appropriately designed, as the main pillar for the development of a public landscape.

Why is it important to talk about all this today? Because even if it has always been clear that the value of urban green in the development of cities is fundamental, the pandemic is providing us with an opportunity for a radical change, accelerating processes already underway. Despite its dramatic presence, Covid has taught us that a city that is increasingly populated and “lived” through public space is possible and even desirable.

This is why it is important to transform urban spaces into 360-degree service containers, devising new development models based on social well-being and environmental quality, with particular attention to climate adaptation, urban regeneration and, more generally, to resilience.

We need to work so that green areas perform an infrastructural function, generating a new image of an urban nature. Bringing nature back to the city offers the opportunity to better manage its structural space as well as contribute to the well-being of those who live there. The real challenge is not the number of trees you want to plant but the quality these trees can create in public space.

For this reason, attention to people and their living space is fundamental: since the landscape is an expression of the public sphere (understood as a society made up of people), urban regeneration projects must focus on the human being, who expresses today, more and more, the need to have nature under the house, within one's own neighborhood, a maximum of 15 minutes away, within easy reach. It is necessary to move from the design of green spaces to authentic urban landscape projects.

From an ecosystem perspective, therefore, urban green becomes a device for controlling the microclimate, reducing pollutants and providing healthy and biodiverse spaces for all. The way of conceiving cities has radically changed, developing more livable urban landscapes, where greenery plays a decisive role in building landscape stories capable of regenerating urban communities and territories through a sustainability approach based on reconnection with nature.

The imperative, now more than ever, is to recover sociality, promote the presence of urban nature, in its meaning of a safe and, above all, “healthy” refuge.

 

Cover photo, the project of the LAND studio at Portello in Milan. The park, which covers about 70,000 square meters and connects the Rho exhibition center to the new Piazza Mercato, can be considered a real landmark for accessing the city.