Andrea Boschetti: Regeneration

This Scenario, by the architect Andrea Boschetti, founder of the architecture firm @metrogramma and Head of design of branded real estate developer @theoneatelier , tackles the theme: Regeneration. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here


Diary of: @boschettiandre

Andrea Boschetti: Regeneration
Ph. Filippo Avandero

Two crucial terms, in this period of epochal change, are rethink and regenerate.

Thinking about what the city of tomorrow will look like is a priority. If the innovation brought by great masters such as Brunelleschi (whose Florentine dome has been considered over the centuries as an “extraordinary work of intelligence”) took place today, it would be reduced to a mere “technical performance”. Or perhaps, since he could not demonstrate the economic viability of the project, it would not even see the light of day… A paradox on which to reflect, because there are many ingenious works that take place around us every day, and which are partly underestimated, or even discarded.

In our country we are approaching an ambitious government recovery and resilience plan (the so-called PNRR): an exceptional opportunity for innovation that will be worth tens of billions of euros.

Ours is a country that needs to be thoroughly modernised and renewed, making a leap towards a future that speaks of sustainability. This is a concrete challenge that cannot just be announced: we must turn words into facts avoiding the risk of becoming a big boomerang if we are unable to implement unambiguous implementation tools to simplify and standardize the processes that make innovation, modernization and regeneration possible.

Offenbach Residences, the building in the residential compound of Offenbach, close to Frankfurt am Main.
Epic Marbella, Residences furnished by Fendi Casa in Marbella, Spain

Our country has pressing issues to resolve, such as hydrogeological instability, soil consumption, air pollution, the depopulation of villages, the overflowing degradation of suburbs, and a worrying increase in the gap between wealth and poverty.

We architects must do something to respond to these primary issues of the present, finding new ways of not pulling projects out of the drawer that are anachronistic or inconsistent with the objectives that the PNRR is proposing.

There is a second challenge, that of the future. To achieve this goal we definitely must rethink and remodel the tools that make it possible, in order to bring two major objectives back to centre stage: quality and efficiency.

Milano Future city – Mobility axis between San Babila and via Padova
Milano Future city – Mobility axis between San Babila and via Padova

Let us now focus on cities. Historically, what defined a city was its density of relationships; today, however, thanks to the internet, even a village with an internet network can benefit from high intensity. The difference between the urban and suburban worlds is therefore becoming increasingly relative. As a result, even peripheral or even rural areas need quality projects capable of resolving issues that in the past were the exclusive prerogative of cities: security, services and fragile landscapes.

It is therefore crucial to rediscover consistency between quality design and development. To achieve this, we must focus on sustainable innovation and the regeneration of what already exists.


Forlanini MI&YOU – Green Community, Milan

The figures speak for themselves: in Italy, 7.3 million citizens now live in areas at risk of landslides or flooding, 25% of our schools are at seismic risk, 17.7% of our homes are unauthorized (48% of which are in southern Italy), we only use 15 meters of urban green space per person (compared to an average of 45 meters in Europe), and we are in 23rd place out of 28 in terms of spending on cultural services, biodiversity and landscape protection (i.e. just 0.41% of GDP).

All this is unacceptable: on the one hand, urban cities need to regenerate, completely reversing the trend of pollution, bringing greenery back into the city, reducing the senseless use of private services in favour of public ones. Suffice it to say that more than 55,000 people die each year of premature death associated with fine dust.

On the other, the many small towns (in Italy, 70% of municipalities have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants) must accompany their urban growth with adequate spatial planning, avoiding a drastic increase in fragile sites exposed to landslides, floods and other disasters. Just think, at a time when we are talking about home working and distance learning, almost 40% of households still do not have a computer.

Returning to cities, recovery and regeneration are crucial. Examples include the project for redevelopment of Piazzale Loreto in Milan – until now just a crossroads for cars, in the future a 10,000 square meter public square to develop the physical relationships of the future – and the large bridge park in Genoa.

Il Parco del Polcevera e il Cerchio Rosso - Genoa. METROGRAMMA with Stefano Boeri Architetti e Inside Outside
Il Parco del Polcevera e il Cerchio Rosso - Genoa. METROGRAMMA with Stefano Boeri Architetti e Inside Outside

These projects focus on sustainable, slow community life, where the theme of place overrides the theme of space design. This trend should guide us in rethinking the cities of the future and what innovative tools can be used to implement these projects. After all, until now the design of open urban spaces has been conceived as urbanization projects, far removed from the heart and work of many designers.

LOC – Loreto Open Community, Milan
LOC – Loreto Open Community, Milan

Now we have to call everyone to unity, giving new weight to the term “regeneration”. We have already collected more than 1000 signatures (click here to sign the petition), gathered consensus of many associations and written an open letter to Presidents Mattarella and Draghi: it is crucial that, in addition to the PNRR, the “general states of the territory” be opened and that we discuss a framework law to regulate architecture and the development of the territory.

Andrea Boschetti: Regeneration

We need to bring new ideas and include young people at the table, so that we can come out with something that will allow us to reorganize our investment plans. We need a long-term vision, capable of going beyond local political logic. We don’t need more architectural symbols, but rather effective protection of the environment, landscape and artistic heritage, which must become a fundamental right of the individual.

On the word regenerate, I close with 8 related verbs: listen, participate (actively), share, mend, reduce, include, favor and overcome.
Ph. Filippo Avandero
Andrea Boschetti is the founder of Metrogramma, international office of architecture and urban planing based in Milan, Moscow and New York. He is also Head of Design of The One Atelier.
other contents of this issue:
Andrea Boschetti: Regeneration
Andrea Boschetti: Regeneration
Andrea Boschetti: Regeneration

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