Mapping Ideas, Designing Places

Looking for a strategical Idea to enhance the landscape between Piacenza and Po river


Faces of all the partecipants to the Atelier

STUDENTS: Cecere Sara, Frenzen Verena, Furuya Fernanda, Holtkamp Marius, Huang Xiaolin, Jiang Lian, Liu Fangfang, Luo Jie, Ma Zhiqiang, Mushty Srividya, Nohra Theresa, Qureshi Nahid, Ravichandran Prathyusha, Schmale Vivienne, Shi Yuxuan, Tahiri Dielleza, Tahseen Sumaita, Xia Fanqi, Xiang Zhanpeng, Xu Chenxuan, Yang Jun, Zhang Yaning, Zhu Yining


The work is organized in three phases:
1. Mapping Ideas:
The mapping process is intended as the first step of knowledge. The ‘agency’ of mapping allows the project to be oriented through a personal pathway. As a creative tool, it will guide the design, unfolding the potentiality of the territory. A personal ‘treasure map’ which will reveal and shape what is hidden: making visible the invisible.
2. Choosing Spaces:
Once each group creates its own ‘treasure map’, this will be oriented following a natural element, a cultural reference, a building environment and so on. The latter could interpret as a guiding feature. This will allow everyone to focus on the project by narrowing down its suitability.
3. Designing Places:
Finally, the project, as natural process of unfolding, will results as place. The definition of a place will not be intended as the creation of a physical enclosed space. Rather as a revealing and identitary tool.

Presentation of the topic by the Atelier Leader, Valerio Morabito


The first request to the students was to start producing a freehand drawing without any cartographic support: by relying only on memory. Reviewing and trying to give shape to what got stuck in the mind after the presentation of the site. Many of them do not know Piacenza and some not even Italy. Representing a place without walking through it, hearing noises and smells and seeing the people who live in it has been useful to understand what has remained most impressed. How has the “limit” left its sign in everyone’s narratives?


Once students produced some freehand drawing representing what was got stuck in their mind after the presentation of the site, we asked them to re-examine it with respect of the basic material of the course. In so doing, each group stressed the idea of the limits in different manners, giving us a synthetic draw with a title, as manifesto for the further steps. Each group followed a personal line in according to the first feeling they got. Despite the firmness with regard to the aspect to be taken more into consideration, each one has then reworked the starting idea sometimes turning its first meaning upside down.


After giving shape to feelings and impressions and then inserting and reassessing them with respect to physical reality, the map was further developed. students were asked to transform the signs into strategic intervention moves. To mark therefore the favorite ” path” to get to the “treasure“. The process of discovery, although still at an initial state, is understood as evolving and open to future changes of direction. 
The chosen path will lead not only to the identification of a specific space but also to the final definition of the product, of the treasure, of the design.


The overall strategy was then implemented and made explicit through a further step. Students were asked to stress the relationship between the perception of the limit and the imagination of overcoming it or enforcing it. Different visions were produced that in different ways captured some elements. The elements, imagined as “guides” towards the unveiling of the project, were different. Tangible and intangible elements. The choices were the most different, from emotional elements, linked to the memory of the place, to physical, topological, natural and ecological elements. This exercise led, almost unconsciously, the groups to work with the limit, overcoming its meaning of barrier and exalting its intrinsic bonding characteristics.