Unexpected Spaces

An urban regeneration and action research project on Bovisa and Dergano neighborhoods in Milan (Italy) by Architecture Sans Frontières  (ASF – Italy). 

Fenced, abandoned, inaccessible urban spaces are resources to the city: they are “backyards” where it is still possible to observe a natural environment, microcosms made of “leftovers”, legacies of the past, weeds. But these are not “static” places (even if temporarily in “stand-by” regarding the strategies of planning) but constantly changing (due to the action of man or nature). Important resources for the territory, because of their biological richness, but also for the symbolic value they have taken through time. By improving the knowledge and the awareness of the “real consistency” of these places, it is possible to promote their protection and conservation, as well as their valorisation in terms of use and fruition.

In the recent decades, the physical configuration of Bovisa-Dergano district has deeply changed. Industrial relocation and the subsequent closure and demolition of many factories have left large empty spaces, along with small vacant and unused plots, closed or fenced off, which spread pervasively throughout the neighbourhood. These places express a lot of potential for local inhabitants and users: places of possible meeting between the differences, spaces lying in wait.

ASF-Italia began working in Bovisa-Dergano in 2011, when the association launched a series of activities in order to identify and bring together the “resources” (in terms of social and spatial capital, historic memory and knowledge, social activism, etc…) already existing on the territory and to make the local associations work together in the neighbourhood, on the basis of common projects and objectives.

The project included a Cycle of International Seminars “Backyards. Vacant spaces and emerging communities” held at Politecnico di Milano and Stecca 2.0 Cultural Centre, Milan (Italy) and curated by ASF Italy with Antonio Longo, Lina Scavuzzo, Cristiana Mattioli, Alice Buoli and Alberto Graglia.

01. Definitions, projects and policies – http://tinyurl.com/o7kls9h

02. Rural scapes and “wild” scapes – http://tinyurl.com/qb2hykh

03. Collective mapping – http://tinyurl.com/o7kls9h

Project Team: Lina Scavuzzo, Alberto Graglia, Cristiana Mattioli, Alice Buoli and Elisabetta Fusarpoli.

Funded by ASF Italia and Politecnico di Milano.



Map of vacant lands in Bovisa-Dergano (credits: ASF Italia / Cristiana Mattioli, Alice Buoli, Alberto Graglia, Lina Scavuzzo)