July 28 2014

Milan’s Zaha Hadid “City Life” Project Lacks Cultural Authenticity & Inclusiveness

Even if architects and urban planners occasionally get wrapped up in their own ideas, the city is and has to be built for its citizens. In other words, the city belongs to the people and it’s design should reflect the comfort and desires of those who live in it.

And where planners can’t find a way to change things, its residents have a way of stepping forward and improvising an urban design that suits their culture and lifestyle. That is why, in a city with a strong multicultural population, the built environment often undergoes a process of transformation due to the personal touch of the social-mix.

Via Padova, Milan, Italy

By paying attention to the places that surround you – the buildings, shop-designs, advertising, and facilities – you can learn a lot about the cultural context of an area. The emerging issues may not be able to affect the layout of the urban fabric, but it is strongly impregnated on the design of its urban spaces.

In Milan, the contrast between its different spaces is strongly related to its multi-ethnic population and unequal distribution within the city. Moving from one street to another or from opposite sides of the city you can easily perceive the visual change.

In old areas of Milan, the population who slowly immigrated and took over some areas has expanded their own culture and traditions.

Via Padova, Milan, Italy

Milan’s Chinatown in the area of Via Paolo Sarpi has been slowly transformed by its residents. The window design of the shops and the writings all follow the guidelines of a Chinese street experience, adapted to the Italian context and architecture in which they are living.

At the same time, Via Padova embraces a street experience influenced by its multicultural diversity.

Opposite of the two is the new residential neighborhood of City Life. The area which has the strong imprint of Zaha Hadid’s unique style, among other famous architects, seems isolated with respect to its surrounding buildings. City Life was planned to bring to the city a new model of residential living for work and leisure, providing a different layout for the urban space. Like Porta Nuova, it reinvents the silhouette of Milan’s skyline and its architecture – in shape and form.

City Life View, Milan,Italy

In the case of Via Padova and Paolo Sarpi, the multicultural resident population uniquely shapes the places they inhabit, adding to the design of its public spaces through their traditions and cultural symbols. The City Life Project is one example of how planners and architects attempt to shape the social standards and impose their design within a historic fabric.

Sometimes the scale of a project is not familiar with the cultural context of the city. For example, “the Copenhagen paradise” may be the Italian’s nightmare.

So the question is what makes a place “livable” and why do so many people prefer culturally authentic areas to new – perfectly designed buildings?

Credits: Images by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.

Alexandra Serbana

Because of her strong background in Urban Planning and Design, from her bachelor’s at “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, in Bucharest, Romania, Alexandra decided to pursue planning from the perspective of policy and decision-making. She is passionate about traveling and experimenting with new cities, and moved to Milan, Italy where she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design at Politecnico di Milano. The experience of working and living in the multicultural city of Milan has sparked her interest in the reaction of urban places to new real-estate developments, as well as conflict resolution for urban design projects that reorganize urban city life. She hopes to make an improvement on the way cities deal with physical urban changes and their effect on the quality of social and environmental life.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 9:03 am and is filed under Alexandra Serbana, Environment, Government/Politics, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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