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

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.

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! 2021 - The Reappropriation of Public Space will be the third competition of 2021. Starting from December 13th, registrations will be open until 18/03/2022.


December 13th "Tactical Urbanism NOW! 2021 - The Reappropriation of Public Space"; 10.000€ in Prizes; 10 Honorable Mentions; 30 Finalists; Submissions within 18/03/2022; Results on 26/04/2022; Jury:  Miralles Tagliabue EMBT (Barcelona), Public City (Winnipeg), Openfabric (Rotterdam); Orizzontale (Rome); Intuy Lab (Lima); Sports (New York); Atelier Nea (Paris); OBBA (Seoul);


September 10th "Hangar Ticinum - A Community Hub on the River"; 10.000€ in Prizes; 10 Honorable Mentions; 30 Finalists; Submissions within 10/12/2021; Results on 20/01/2022; Jury: Piuarch (Milan); TSPA (Berlin); Stefano Boeri Architetti (Milan); Operastudio (New York); Degli Esposti Architetti (Milan); Untitled Architecture (Moscow); Comune di Pavia (Pavia); Politecnico di Milano (Milan);

March 15th "The Living Museum - Micro-Architectures in the Landscape"7.000€ in Prizes; 10 Honorable Mentions; 30 Finalists; Submissions within 01/08/2021; Results on 13/09/2021; Jury: Topotek1 (Berlin); Elemental Architecture (New York); Stefano Boeri Architetti (Milan); Paredes Pedrosa (Madrid); NADAAA (Boston); One O One Architects (Seoul); Nicolas Campodonico (Rosario); Studio O (Berlin);

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