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TOPIC 2021


PIACENZA POST-COVID

TOWARDS A MORE JUST, GREEN
AND HEALTHY FUTURE

LARGE SCALE

Piacenza and its territory are in a strategic condition, as geography but also economic and social flows, at a national level. This historical character is strongly stressed in our contemporary era with the impacts of the pandemic and environmental urgencies calling for an innovative approach, also in a large-scale view. We can interpret Piacenza as the new “dry” port of cross-regional logistics, a priority geographical support point in the dynamics of agricultural production, industrialization, transport and flows in the metropolitan landscape of the Po Valley region. This point of view intends Piacenza as a new centrality between the Appennine morphological limits, the fluvial limits of Po, Trebbia and their affluents, and the infrastructural margins of the railway and highways network. 
Maps are tools that facilitate the reading of spatial relationships between factors of change of Piacenza in relation to its geographical and infrastructural connection with the metropolitan areas of Milano, Bologna and Genova. Furthermore, they are open-source projects that reveal the metropolitan topographic structure by interpolating qualitative and quantitative attributes of historical, social and geographic data.  Moreover, with them it’s possible to identify and mark the lines of force in the territory, highlighting its own morphological and tectonic values. The interpretative reading pushes to imagine new spatial hierarchies, in order to follow the contemporary needs.

GREEN-GRAY INFRASTRUCTURE PROTOCOL MAP [1:50.000]
Green | Grey | Blue Infrastructures are here described with their characters and qualities.
It gives a territorial image through which an integrated green infrastructure system can be applied by a spatial continuity principle.
RISK METROPOLITAN DNA PROTOCOL MAP [1:50.000]
It narrates Piacenza’s urban biography and its time of evolution.
The map allows to understand the historical and geographical role of the area and its active metabolic processes.

MEDIUM SCALE

The medium-scale view highlights different densities of elements in the area and the related fragmentation. A possible project strategy with territorial-scale effects could aim to overcome the fragmentary nature of Piacenza’s urban extensions in the metropolitan area through a structural reading of the landscape system, characterized by forms of continuity with which architecture collaborates to define unitary interventions oriented to generate a new form of urban places. In the design field of action, the approach allows detecting spatial interruptions of interface elements of the physical context, in order to ensure the continuity of the ecological infrastructure, not integrated with the urban territorial system yet. For this reason the continuity project of the Green | Grey | Blue Infrastructures in Piacenza intends architecture and landscape as co-participants in the definition of a unified intervention characterized by a structured and organized form of soil. The interaction between architecture and the environmental dimension should be understood as a gradual process of transformation of the existing natural and cultural heritage from which emerges a landscape defined by the relational forms that architecture establishes with the landscape system.

GREEN-GRAY INFRASTRUCTURE PROTOCOL MAP [1:25.000]
The purpose is to represent the structural matrix of the city rooted in the morphology of the ground. The dynamic configuration of the city’s Green | Grey Infrastructure can be identified through spatial categories related to water, land use and cultural heritage (anthropogenic and natural) in the territorial region.
URBAN METABOLISM PROTOCOL MAP[1:25.000]
It represents the complex dynamic system of spatial factors to optimize the physical, social and economic process of maintenance, replacement and transformation that can guarantee a quality of life accessible to all citizens of Piacenza’s area.  
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PROTOCOL MAP [1:25.000]
The approach aims to generate a synthetic map of possible factors of exposure to the environmental and social risk of Piacenza’s “biography”. It is composed of morphological structure and proximity parameters related to the lack of common health, social and environmental services in metropolitan regions.

SMALL SCALE | DESIGN AREA

The buffer zone among Piacenza’s densest part of the urban system and the northern waterfront sounds today as the most challenging area discussing topics of regeneration and quality transformation of the landscape and architecture identities. It is a sort of east-west strip with diverse widths and changing conditions, strongly impacted by infrastructures as well as environmental elements. Fragmentation and contradiction are the elements defining a hybrid situation of urban gate and landscape threshold. 
The pandemic together with the renewed awareness of the environmental issues that annoy the world (with impacts in social and economic terms) pushes us to a new proposal precisely for these marginal areas, not resolved and open to even radical changes in its uses and in its forms, in the multiple relationships they can generate with the city and with the landscape.
On the one hand, the question of coexistence and collective space emerges strongly, topic that the Venezia Biennale 2020/2021 is also investigating according to the interpretations of its curator Hashim Sarkis: the low level of physical-spatial cohesion of these areas is often synonymous with low porosity and low accessibility. On the other hand, it is precisely the system of streets and paths giving structure to these places that offer themselves to a wide part of citizens as a potential stock of continuity and new forms of collective use of space.
In terms of functions, the strong and not very coherent current functional mix opens the possibility, also in this case, to significant additions that can dialogue with the resistant traces of the urban historical-artistic heritage while offering, at the same time, precise ways of using the grounds towards culture, sport, leisure. Thus increasing the degree of quality of urban life.
The specific case of this fragment of the Piacenza area is also exemplary for the very strong impact of the infrastructures along a prevalent east-west direction, but interfered by the north-south directions that cross the Po river. They’re mainly infrastructures of mobility (of different hierarchies) but also of the flow of Po waters, in fact, the largest Italian watercourse. This condition of intense infrastructure is further emphasized by a series of production structures that saturate the buffer zone, preventing or severely limiting the north-south relationship between the city and the waterfront. And thus removing, today, a good amount of possible urban and landscape quality of the Piacenza area itself.

The diagram presents the area where the design will be developed, remarking its features and anchor points. The plots and building identified belong to the history of the city, infrastructural grids and mobility nodes. All these elements seem to converge in a focus point, the design area, understood as origin of a potential transformation phenomena. 

The series of emblematic pics are painting the contradictory conditions of the area.
They can be seen both in plan (transition from city to a buffer zone, conflicting with the quality of the riverfront) and in section (with at least 3 different levels recognizable: river, city, infrastructure/horizon).

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