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Milano Design Week: 5 trigger questions about urbanism

One of the world's biggest annual design events, Milan Design Week, took place in April along Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone. Here are six installations that especially caught our attention – mainly because of the questions and reflections they triggered.


Alcova installation in Viale Molise by Sagittarius A.



1. Alcova

This independent design platform (Valentina Ciuffi, Studio Vedèt, and Joseph Grima, Space Caviar) took over a former slaughterhouse in Via Molise. The installation, featuring more than 100 designers, brands, cultural institutions, galleries and other practitioners, reinterpreted the formidable spaces of this slaughterhouse, continuing Alcova's traditional takeover of abandoned buildings.


What do installations like the work of Alcova, but also others' that recovered the slaughterhouse before them (Macao activists, NUL parties, etc.) tell us about the re-appropriation of abandoned spaces in our cities? When so much attention is given to revitalisation and repurposing in urbanism today, how does this work highlight the importance of taking ownership of these places, beyond its immediate change of function? What questions of collectivity, meaning and narratives can we raise?


Read more about Alcova here.



2. Walk the Talk

This installation by Italo Rota and CRA - Carlo Ratti Associati transforms Milan's Botanical Garden into a game about the future of urban mobility. Developed alongside Eni and part of Design Week's INTERNI Re-evolution exhibition, this 3500 square-meter inclusive game uses luminiscent tiles outlined in different directions.


We find the connection between the multiplicity of paths in this installation and those that are currently contemplated by different stakeholders in the mobility arena the most interesting feature of this work. But we are triggered: what other paths are we not exploring today? And who else do we need to bring to the table?


Read more about Walk the Talk here.



3. Shaped by Water

This installation by Google Design Studio and artist Lachlan Turczan at Garage explores the relationship between humanity and water.


Quite a clear link, we find, with key components of several of Rotterdam's City Projects (Stadsprojecten), several of which are rethinking the way water in Rotterdam Zuid is used. We urgently need to rethink the way we plan our cities with regards to water –especially taking into account the consequences of climate change–, but what are new ways of doing that? What are potential design options that we should be contemplating? And how can the experience of a country like the Netherlands be put in practice for this?


Read more about Shaped by Water here.



4. Expériences Immobiles

Perfume manufacturer Les Eaxu Primordiales and DWA Design Studio collaborated to create a olfactory and sensory installation that immediately made us think about the way smelling –and other senses too– affect the way we experience the city.


How can different smells mediate our relationship with the city? Do they create a sense of ownership, of memory, of identity? Do they determine that we go / not go to certain places? Think of a street full of Asian restaurants, or a park full of aromatic plants. Sensorial experiences are also an important part of how we live public space, something that we discussed in-depth while developing our Good Public Space Analysis.


Read more about Expériences Immobiles here.



5. SLURP: Social Ludic Urban Regeneration Project

Somewhere between research and play, this collaboration between SPD Scuola Politecnica di Design, RUFA and Repubblica del Design is envisioned as a scalable, permanent tactical urban design internvention. Developed in the district of Bovisa-Dergano-Fori, the project consists of a series of design workshops and labs and of a concrete implementation on the ground of the former Scalo Farini area, in the North of Milan, between Piazzale Lugano and Piazza Schiavone).


The double nature of this regeneration project, involving workshops and labs as well as tactical urbanism, is what was especially interesting to us, given the fact that reactivation can only be achieved through a clear understanding of the area in question.


Read mroe about SLURP here.


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