"The Urban Sponge" | Prato | November 2018
“Think Like a Forest. Micro Projects for the MacroLotto”
Prato is a very productive city of roughly 200,000 residents. The product is mostly clothing, but includes many other types of semi-industrial and full industrial production, Thus the hinterland of Prato is dotted with many large concrete warehouses and factories. The workshop will take place in the convent of San Niccolò, which sits on the northwestern edge of the historic enter of Prato, with the 13th-century walls as one of its edges.
Between the convent and the Borgo Nuovo district outside of the historic walls (a district which has a suburban train station) we find a densely settled area of predominantly industrial sheds that connect to the artery of Via Pistoiese. Some local residents refer to the area as “Chinatown” due to the large extent of Chinese businesses located in this area. In the planning language of Prato it is called “Macro Lotto Zero.” From the southwest corner of the convent, next to the Renaissance bastion at via Cavour is a large parking area used mostly for the city’s cemetery. Continuing west is a potential green corridor, with a few urban parks, schools and empty lots leading to the ring-road of Viale Nam-Dinh. There is a plan to create a cultural center at the crossroads of via Pistoiese and via Giordano. The area has been imagined by some as a new creative district for start ups and artist spaces. Beyond the ring-road are vast areas mixed with agriculture and industrial compounds of larger scale. Most of the industrial sheds in the area that interests the workshop produce clothing, many of them are in serious disrepair or abandoned.
Students will work in teams of 5 and “think like a forest,” relating to the recent Piano Operativo planned by assessore Valerio Barberis, based on perequazione, a compensation between public green space and private built space, a section of which is devoted to Urban Forestry with neuro-biologist Stefano Mancuso and Stefano Boeri.
Photo Credits © Eugenia Bolla, Stefano Lardera