Luis Basabe Montalvo_Making Process Public



THE CITY IS A PROCESS, and not a mere product. The city is furthermore a mesh of divergent processes, led by a big range of actors, which follow different directions, interests and values. It can be understood as an intense battlefield, in which different factions of capital, politics and institutions try to spatialize their concurrent power projects, but in which also disempowered citizenship and democracy have a chance to flourish.

In that sense, the city is too complicated to be “designed” as a result. Authorship does not seem to be the proper tool for the definition of large and complex urban environments, and architects, urban designers and planners have to rethink their role in the production of urbanity, in order to allow A BIG RANGE OF STAKEHOLDERS – public body, real estate developers and investors with different scales, co-ops and communities, and also citizens- into the urban negotiation. Only a city, which can be produced by all, can be really democratic.

The conventional apparatus of architecture and planning appears as highly inadequate to deal with such a complex system as the contemporary city has become. Product and object oriented, it fails to describe a reality, which has much more to do with processes and relations than with results. We need NEW TOOLS, able to describe and transform the production rather than the products, and the processes rather than the objects. We need new models, able to represent the different actors’ visions and interests, and to manage their intense negotiations on this new urban arena.

Effective open-source methods for the production of urban space, such as COLLABORATIVE PLANNING PROCESSES, are growingly necessary, and will build this workshop’s topic. The course’s objective is to think about the city with regard on the question “who makes it?”, and to give an inclusive answer to it, not so much through visions or scenarios, but mainly through the development of a set of ad hoc tools.

Which is the role of public institutions in the new urban developments? Who builds infrastructure? Can real estate developers produce a democratic city? Is profit the main value in a housing development? Which alternative models of housing production can we think of? Which role can civil society overtake in the city’s decision making? How could we maximize their participation in the decisions, in the production and in the profit derived from urban production?

THE SCALO GRECO AREA, which should be redeveloped in the following years, will be the workshop’s study case for these –and many other- questions. It is a highly interesting strategic enclave that shows itself as a huge game board for extremely different actors and transformation scales, going from productive facilities to real estate potentials, and from big infrastructures to almost informal urban farming.

The task is to collectively design, prepare, and also play an open-sourced, collaborative process for the planning of this new opportunity area in northern Milan. The process should be open to a big range of actors, which should be defined during the course, and enable their productive and balanced negotiation through a carefully prepared set of tools. This workshop is NOT about designing how the Scalo Greco should look like. On the contrary, the task will be to develop a tool to describe and play the area’s negotiated transformation, as an open-end process of different and even diverging interests and visions.

THE WORKSHOP’S STRUCTURE will be organized in three parts, which will happen to some extend simultaneously:

  1. DESIGNING THE PROCESS: First of all, we will collectively design the necessary set of tools –both hardware and software- to allow a discussion between many different actors, reaching from experts in planning or architecture to politicians, investors or citizens. In this stage, it is not about how the city should be, but about how we can formulate it in the form of a game board, for example. The students will work in groups, assuming different tasks, and resulting in a collective outcome.
  2. PLAYING THE PROCESS: Each student/group of students will assume a role, and defend the corresponding actor’s interests and positions. The objective is to reach the definition of a negotiated proposal, in which productive diversity is thematized. The outcome will build the main element in the exhibition.

III. DOCUMENTING THE PROCESS: The whole process should be recorded in the form of texts, fotos, drawings etc. All this material will be compiled into a book, which will also be shown in the exhibition.