“THE URBAN SPONGE” | Terra Viva Workshop n° 9 | 12-15 + 16-19 April 2018 | Politecnico di Milano

April 1, 2018


The workshop “Urban Sponge” is devoted to rethinking empty urban spaces as potential sites for absorbing, cleaning, and redistributing water. The imbalances that have been occurring due to Climate Change, with either too much water, such as Houston in August 2017 or during the same period, not enough water, such as the on-going drought in Ethiopia set a challenge for all urban situations. The excess of paving in asphalt and concrete during the past 50 years has greatly improved vehicular access but at the same time strongly compromised the capacity of the land to absorb and store water. Coastal cities and cities below sea level will need to equip themselves for unpredictable shifts in water accumulation. Rotterdam and New York City have already begun to plan for the 40 cm to 2 meter rise of sea levels during the next two generations.

As in previous workshops students, usually organized in teams of 4, will be giving a set of general topics to research, along with a specific design problem, in this case dealing with the 10 different sites between the convent of San Niccolò and a future project known as MacroLottoZero, about 2 km to its north. The potential to rethink parking as parks, to rethink roofs as collectors, to create water-friendly programs for large empty sites, and to encourage the formation of green corridors from the significant agro-industrial hinterland to the walled center city. To help us we will learn from the biologist/artist Dr. Carlo Scoccianti, founder of the Oasis at Focognano and other zones between Florence and Prato that have been replanned as natural systems that catch excess runoff water while improving the habitat of wild animals. We will also have input from Prato’s assessor of urbanism, Valerio Barberis.

The ten student projects will be presented April 15 at noon to all who are interested. Critics include Prof. Giulio Giovinnoni of UNIFI, an expert on Florentine sprawl, and the tutors Arian Heidari Afshari, Eugenia Bolla, Stefano Lardera.

Prof. Richard Ingersoll, Terra Viva program director.

Please reload

TerraViva Competitions

Recently created as a new branch of "TerraViva", this specific section proposes a series of design competitions in line with the topics addressed by our workshops and mainly directed to architecture students, new graduates and young designers.

TACTICAL URBANISM NOW! The Reappropriation of Public Space will be the first competition of 2020. Starting from June 15th, registrations will be open until November 29th.



May 16th   "Milano Arch Week"

11:00 am - 7:00 pm Digital Marathon with a series of online Open Lectures by:  Petra Blaisse (Biblioteca degli Alberi); Peter Eisenman (Residenze Carlo Erba); Bjarke Ingels (CityLife); Rem Koolhaas (Fondazione Prada); Daniel Libeskind (CityLife); Patrik Schumacher – Zaha Hadid Architects (City Life); Kazuyo Sejima – SANAA (Campus Bocconi).


May 25th  "Milano Digital Week"

Online Edition | 25/05 - 30/05


June 5th  "Il Futuro degli Spazi Pubblici", 6:00 pm | Open Lecture




July 1st  "Tactical Urbanism Now! - The Reappropriation of Public Space" | TerraViva Competition #1

"Early" Registration Open from 15/06/2020 to  15/09/2020


  • Facebook B&W
  • Instagram B&W
Please reload

  General Information  


Recent Updates:

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, TerraViva Workshop has postponed all the programmed activities until June 3rd 2020

Didactic ProgramDirector:

Richard Ingersoll

Scientific Coordination and Organization:

Eugenia Bolla

Stefano Lardera

Teaching Assistants:

Toufic Rifai

Matteo Pettinaroli

Omar Rota

© 2015 by Terra Viva Workshop. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Facebook B&W
  • Twitter B&W
  • Instagram B&W