Research project of national interest (PRIN) 2015

 IT

Conference  June 11-12, 2018                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CITY AS A CURE AND THE CARE OF THE CITY

LANDSCAPES OF HEALTH: SCENARIOS OF URBAN TRANSFORMATION

 

Premise

Our research has the aim to put more in relation the urban transformation addressed to the sustainability with the issues that concern the health and the prevention of the diseases, a theme that is not new for our architectural disciplines as, as it is known, the relationship with health is at the origin of modern urban planning. In the 19th century the issues concerned hygiene and convenience. Today, however, it is the excess of comfort that generates dysfunctions. The pathologies in contemporary society have changed from infectious to chronic, so that obesity, diabetes, allergies and asthma have been defined as new "epidemics", generated not by viruses but by inadequate lifestyles. Pollution, sedentariness, wrong nutrition contribute to the development of these diseases. The neuro-scientific and metabolic tradition therefore places the lifestyle as "primum movens" of health. The WHO has identified obesity as "one of the greatest public health challenges in the 21st century" and has introduced the parameter of 5,000 steps per day, to stay healthy and cut the risk of death in half.

 

Transforming the habitat is therefore a good way to facilitate behavior change. Our cities conceived for the automobile in modernity must reorganize themselves according to models that promote virtuous behavior and guarantee access to welfare structures, an important element of recognition of the European city. It is clear that in this perspective insisting on pedestrian and, more generally, on soft mobility, must be one of the actions placed at the first place of urban policies that want to combine sustainability, healthy life and wellbeing of the population, with obvious savings also on health expenditure.

 

The best practices have highlighted the Green Attitudes among the result indicators and great importance is given to urban planning. Relevant cases in Europe are the GWL Terrein in Amsterdam, the Vauban and Rieselfeld districts in Friborg, the well-known examples of Hamburg and Copenhagen. In Italy the pedestrianization and the attention to the quality of the urban environment were established in the Seventies for the protection of historic centers, but today's challenge, as shown by European examples, concerns network systems on the metropolitan scale, which also affect the most marginal areas, where most of the population resides and, in particular, the most disadvantaged classes often more prone to lifestyles at risk.

 

The Conference wants to investigate some relationships that exist between health, architecture and city and compare the paradigms of modernity with those of today. Two sessions, dedicated

one to the networks, the other to the welfare structures will host contributions highlighting the themes of the contemporary city.

 

Themes

  1. STREETS, NETWORKS, GREENSCAPE

Going back to thinking about the structure of the street, or as we say with an Anglo-Saxon more fashionable, the Streetscape, means reasoning about how architecture, green areas, open spaces, the property regime, accessibility and permeability shape the urban space and how the inhabitants live it and make it vital. This is a reasoning that invests the territorial scale and that of the detail, producing collective spaces with multiple uses, which contribute to strengthening the local identity of the built and social environment. It means taking care of the city, in the same way we take care of our home. A reflection that is certainly not new for the Mediterranean culture and for the numerous critics of modern urban planning.

 

Since Le Corbusier has decreed La mort de la rue in the 1934 conference in Milan, there have been many studies to prove exactly the opposite. Piero Bottoni, Aldo Van Eyck, Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch, Bernard Rudofsky and Giancarlo De Carlo are just some of the names that led us to reflect on the importance of street space and its fundamental influence on lifestyles. A teaching still full of ideas for us today that we have to go back to conceiving "streets for people" encouraging them to abandon their cars.

 

With this in mind, the abandoned green areas and the open spaces - in-between, inside, around - represent a potential for regeneration of the suffering habitat of the contemporary city. Considered marginal by the debate and by the institutional projects, these spaces are more and more the scene of actions bottom-up that overwrite areas’ roles and characters, foreshadowing new  assets and functions. Thus forgotten, neglected or abandoned areas become available places and the scene of unexpected possibilities. Even if these are actions promoted by small groups, the effects of their accumulation affect the landscapes and the living body of the city. Learning from the practice of activities in nature, from people’s movements and fluctuations in space, from trajectories of crossing the metropolitan archipelago is a fertile exercise for the project. These practices contribute to the psycho-physical well-being of society and are useful for outlining and elaborating social and urban reactivation procedures.

 

  2. NODES, ATTRACTORS, HEALTHSCAPE

The modernist idea of urban separation by zones dislocates the places of care in areas outside the city's settlements. The sanatoriums are outside the urban perimeter and mostly located in hilly localities where the air is healthy. Contemporary thinking focuses more on prevention to avoid incurring in diseases and aims to a greater acceptance of the patient in society, minimizing hospitalization. The social inclusion of vulnerable individuals (especially elderly and people with chronic conditions) is based on an organizational model that seeks to integrate structures once rigidly divided: education, work, health care, socialization spaces.

 

This means a new model of community welfare centered on new economic and cultural trends that aim at spreading the assistance in the territory. Such a concept does not only imply the dislocation of health facilities (acute sick, elderly, chronic sick, etc.), but also the identification of new types of welfare buildings and spaces, conceived as urban attractors that internally contemplate a plurality of functions that go from the therapeutic stay, (elderly and post-illness rehabilitated) to the care of the body (gymnastic activities), to the spaces of socialization and free time.

 

In addition, the production of food grown "on its own" and the zero km distribution, is becoming in many European and American cities, the opportunity to create new architectures conceived as farm buildings containing greenhouses, vertical gardens and hydroponic crops. These new urban architectures and practices favor sociality (among the elderly, the young, the inclusion of immigrants) and even the psycho-neurological recovery of important diseases such as autism and alzheimer.

 

New tendencies of the Healthscape that speak of an hybrid and multipolar condition that can be articulated in a centrality system and new urban scenarios for health and well-being.