Luis Basabe Montalvo_WS 02 WHO MAKES THE CITY?

Ex-Scalo Farini: the game.

An attempt to modelize complex processes of urban production in different scales, taking into account their multiple players, and focusing on the actions and processes rather than on the objects and results.

Research Theme

Negotiating the city
+ DIFFERENT VALUES AND INTERESTS coexist in urban production, and trace often divergent and even contradictory development trails for the city. Speculators, squatters, activists, politicians, homeowners, investors, minorities, or just citizens, are simultaneously the motor of urban transformation. And it is precisely this inherent contradiction that builds urbanity’s main characteristic: its complexity.
+ AN AUTHENTIC BATTLEFIELD, on which institutions, investors and civil society fight fiercely for the most divergent interests, appears clearly in such central locations as Scalo Farini. The proximity of consolidated centralities makes such sites highly desirable for all urban players, who look forward to materializing their respective values and visions in the city. Different factions of capital, politics and institutions try to spatialize their power projects, but also disempowered citizenship and democracy have a chance to flourish in this process.

+ “WHO MAKES THE CITY?” becomes the core question in urban production, and its answer will define the most internal chemistry of any urban development. Each actor plays the city with a different set of tools –economic, political, demographic, etc., and in a different scale –both of space and time-. A continuous negotiation, a kind of board game is generated, which we call “the city”.
+ A CITY IS A PROCESS, not a product. It is furthermore a mesh of different processes, led by different actors, which follow the most different stimuli and rules. Contemporary urbanity has accelerated this kind of complexity in such a way, that the city has become far too complicated to be “designed” in its result.
+ THE CONVENTIONAL APPARATUS of architecture and planning appears as highly inadequate to deal with such a complex system. 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. Only a city, which can be produced by all, can be really democratic.
The serious game of urbanity
THIS MIAW 2017 WORKSHOP’S OBJECTIVES will be precisely focused on the instrumental and narrative questions of urban space production: How can we represent a complex urban transformation as a negotiation? How can we bring diverse actors’ visions/projects into an integrated architectural language? How can we generate tools not only to describe, but also to manage the transformation processes, rather than their material results?

In order to address all these questions, the workshop will deal with THE CREATION OF A GAME, which is understood as a tool for the simulation, visualization and management of urban negotiations.
The GAME will thematize the negotiation itself, and should be able to describe very different realities –values, topologies, actors, actions, contexts, etc.- with different tools within a single operational framework. It will be able to include a big amount of complexity, and to describe the city’s transformation process without predesigning its result.

Scalo Farini
The Scalo Farini Area in Milan will be the case study 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 marginal squatters.
This workshop is NOT about designing how the Scalo Farini 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 outcome should be a ludic but accurate representation of an urban development. It will thematize the negotiation itself, and will be able to describe very different realities –values, topologies, actors, actions, contexts, etc.- with different tools within a single operational framework. It will be able to describe a its transformation process without defining its result, and focusing on the question “who makes the city?”

Workshop’s structure

he workshop will be structured in three parts:

Presentation: Saturday 25th february in the morning.
For the first couple of days, nine different teams of 3-4 students will generate a modelization proposal for the Scalo Farini Area. They will AT LEAST take into account following layers/elements/dimensions:
+ Gameboard(s): How can we describe the territory in an instrumental way, and which information should we attach to it?
+ Actors: Who makes the city? In which scales? With which tools?
+ Values: Which indicators allow me to evaluate my process? Which benefits do my different actors expect from this urban development?
+ Actions: How do I describe the different transformations, which can be done by the different actors in the city? How do I describe their potentials and capabilities?
+ Networks: How do I underlay/overlay infrastructure as part of this process?
+ Events: How do “happenings” contribute to the production of urban space?
+ Context: How do I contextualize my model, not only geographically, but also socially, economically, culturally, etc.?
+ Other.

Presentation 1: Feb. 28th. // Presentation 2: March 2nd.
This part will build the workshop’s core. The task is to generate three games in three different scales, to address different aspects of Scalo Farini. The workshop should be collaborative in two senses:
a. The work itself should happen in continuous dialog.
b. The games should be understood as a collaborative tool, which could be in fact played by real urban actors in order to negotiate and to take decisions about their city.
The games will be generated in groups, and should manage to describe the proposed urban mutations with a limited amount of complexity. The precise format remains intendedly open, in order to reach a broad range of results.
+ Team 01. Scale 1:2000.
+ Team 02. Scale 1:1000.
+ Team 03. Scale 1:500.
All teams will work on the same board surface: an IKEA LINNMON table board of 75 x 150 cm.
There will be some “special commissions”, formed by one member of each team. For instance, one person will take care of reaching some amount of unity in the whole workshop’s graphic design, while another one will be in charge of conceptualizing the exhibition. Other topics will arise while working on it.

The last day before the exhibition should be dedicated to playing and documenting the three games.
Although the ludic character is a game’s essential element, this work is primarily about finding operative narratives for the complex relations that build the city. The entertainment value should therefore be subordinated to the model’s capability to integrate depth and layers of complexity.


Friday 24th February
– site visiting (photo camera, sketchbook)
– first Concepts, game drafts

Saturday 25th February
– deadline 1: discussion and selection

Monday 27th February
– game board modeling
– evening discussion: roles, team creation

Tuesday 28th February
– team’s production
– deadline 2: evening discussion

Wednesday 1st March
– team’s production
– evening discussion

Thursday 2nd March
– team’s production
– deadline 2: evening discussion

Friday 3rd March
– “the game”
– postproduction: photos, video, ppt…

Saturday 4th March
– exhibition setup;
– exhibition opening and talks.