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"THE URBAN SPONGE" | Terra Viva Workshop n°3 | Prato + Milan | November 2018

October 2, 2018


“The Urban Sponge” Workshop 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 4/5, 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 the edges of Prato. 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, and the vice-president of S. Niccolò Foundation, Cristiano Zani. The ten student projects will be presented on November 18 at noon to all who are interested.

Critics include Prof. Giulio Giovinnoni of UNIFI, an expert on Florentine sprawl, and the tutors Marco Bovati, Arian Heidari Afshari, Matteo Pettinaroli, Eugenia Bolla, Stefano Lardera together with the Program Director Richard Ingersoll.

- Submissions at:  workshop.terraviva@gmail.com

- Location:  Politecnico di Milano (Campus Leonardo) + Conservatorio San Niccolò (Prato)

- Credits:  4CFU

- Dates:  from Thursday 15/11 to Sunday 18/11 in Tuscany (mainly Prato) + Revisions on Tuesday 20/11 and
Final Presentation on Thursday 22/11 at Politecnico di Milano

- Program:  The Official Schedule and Time-table will be released by the end of the first week of October

- Facebook/Instagram Pages:  Workshop.Terraviva


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Our Soil, Our Commons,  Our Future

A new vision for Planetary Citizenship 


“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel, and our shelter and surround us with beauty.

Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it”


From  Vedas Sanskrit Scripture

1500 BC


November2019 "The Urban Sponge IV", TerraViva  Workshop n°3, PoliMi  +  Earth Service  +  ECòL  + Chì-nà

February 2020 "Tactical Urbanism II", TerraViva Workshop n° 4, PoliMi  + Earth Service  +  Needle 

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