The Revenge of peripheries: A Masterplan by Renzo Piano

The Revenge of peripheries: A Masterplan by Renzo Piano

The G124 is a working group lead by the visionary architect and Senator Renzo Piano that works for the re-qualification of the peripheries.

The idea to set up a Lab for the requalification of the urban texture was born as a response to the mounting necessity to restore the ghost spaces of the cities, in particular the old industrial districts. The renaissance of the peripheries is not only an architectural phenomenon, as it involves functions that are far beyond the physicality of spaces.

Indeed, periphery is often a synonymous of identity, but at the same time it demonstrated during the last decades to be so fragile and disconnected from the city.


The Master plan by Renzo Piano for the regeneration of the maxi area of the old industrial district FALK in the city of Milan, intends to mend the “collective conscience” and to establish a new canon of urban architecture, as well as new roles for spaces: In order to contribute to the spirit of the community, it is necessary to rethink the physiognomy of spaces and to assign them the value of melting pot of the collective identity.

The imaginative vision of the working team goes far beyond the boundary of current times, since the project envision a new architecture and new functions for “the city that will be”.

In this sense, there is the awareness that we need to set up today a social construction yard for building the physical innovations of tomorrow.

The terrain is fertile for the inception of a model of active school, that become a sort of educational lab with flexible spaces and instruments that facilitate a collaborative approach to knowledge.

The urban renaissance must be fertilized with structures that are able to sustain collaboration and positive networking; at the same time, it becomes crucial to conquer those abandoned spaces for transforming them into shipyards of social innovation. Let’s think for example to the common gardening or to the quarter Laboratories (LDQ).

Moreover, we shall protect the fragility of our cities by conferring responsibilities to the new generation, by giving them adequate public structures as well as the possibility to invent new jobs.

For this reason, we believe that the project lead by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop will be a prominent example in the area of urban regeneration, especially regarding schools, their educational system and their role in the neighborhood, as they are simply the most important and prolonged space of collective rendezvous.


Image copyright by: RPBW

A new future lies in the 3d printing technology

A new future lies in the 3d printing technology

From prosthetic limbs to food, everything is printable/possible


The technologies behind the world of 3d printing made huge steps forwards from their first use in the ‘80s by Chuck Hull.

Recently there has been a considerable increase of the possible application for such technology, and the results are quite astonishing.

3d printers are used in medical research to create prosthetic limbs less “invasive” and “shocking” for the patient, since they can easily recreate the silhouette of the missing limb by scanning the remaining one, and to create also bracers and hearing devices. Recently this technology has been used also to create prototypes of working human organs such as livers or kidneys.

Others uses might be found in the spaceship program to create probes and in industrial environments as well as domestic one.

An element that surely aided the expansion of 3d printers was the one of the “user-friendly process”; in order to start a printing process, a person needs only to learn how to use a simple computer program. If it results to be too difficult, a person can use a tool that allows the conversion of a picture of the object you want to duplicate in string of data and then let the printer do the rest.

The latest “taboo” destroyed by this technology was the food market, since recently some new food companies, like “Foodini”, started to print, as they claim: “real food, 3d printed, made with fresh ingredients”. This groundbreaking effort might give birth to a complete new idea of “nutrition habits”, shaped on the request and the needs of an individual, and can create a big amount of job opportunities for youngster who try to find their way in the world.

As the modern flourishing of new 3d printing startups made clear, this technology is not anymore a thing for big elites companies, but something affordable to almost everyone. An example is the little space company “Planetary Resources” that made a complete functional probe that will soon be send to space and it is big just a fraction of the one of NASA and that cost only a fraction.

Many people think that 3D printing will be the end of manufacturing as we know it because, along with all of the unimagined, we will also have the unintended, like democratized counterfeiting and ubiquitous illegal possession.

But we should think about the role of 3d fabrication, from being a phenomenon of niche to an essential passage for enabling a novel development of the urban texture: the accessibility of the medium to the community and its incredible flexibility fits perfectly with the new trend of FabLabs. In this context, 3D printing should also be considered as a great instruments for empowering the culture of the Commons.

Nevertheless, it is very important to consider such steps forwards in the technological progress just how they are, a possibility to improve our lives and our future.

Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

Schermata 2014-12-18 alle 19.06.26

The City of Bologna has just adopted the translation prepared by 2013/2014 LabGov interns as the official English version of the Bologna Regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons. The official English version of the Regulation is available here.

LabGov interns participated actively to “La città come bene comune” (i.e. “The city as a commons“) project in Bologna, carrying out research activities, training programs and co-design sessions. One of LabGov strategists, Christian Iaione, was also a key member of the working group which drafted the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per la cura e rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani” of the Comune di Bologna.

According to the regulation active citizens (i.e. social innovators, entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and knowledge institutions willing to work in the general interest) can enter into a co-design process with the city leading to the signing of a “patto di collaborazione per la cura o rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani“. Urban commons are mainly public spaces, urban green spaces and abandoned buildings or areas.

Using the institutional technology of public collaboration (” or “amministrazione condivisa“) Italian cities and communities can transplant Elinor Ostrom‘s idea of “governance dei beni comuni” (i.e. “governance of the commons”) in urban contexts, as Sheila Foster has already theorized.

The regulation is at the same time a form of social innovation enabling tool and fosters the birth of collaborative economy or sharing economy ventures. Indeed the regulation has dedicated specific articles to “innovazione sociale e servizi collaborativi“, “creatività urbana” and “innovazione digitale“. As a matter of fact social innovation and collaborative services, urban creativity, digital innovation  must be the centerpiece of a “sharing city” or “collaborative city“, which is by default a commons-oriented city and therefore a co-city.

Last, “public collaboration” is centered upon the use of bottom-up or collaborative “nudge” or “nudging” techniques  and “service design” techniques. Indeed, the regulation strengthens the importance of information/communication tools, training and educational initiatives, facilitation activities, as much as the need for measuring and evaluating the impact of the regulation and collaboration pacts or initiatives activated under the umbrella of the regulation.

Sustainable development hand in hand with social inclusion: EU’GO!

Sustainable development hand in hand with social inclusion: EU’GO!


Once again the European Union has been the driving force of social innovation, through the so-called Grundtvig Programme. Often underestimated in its innovative and cohesive potential, since 2000 the European Union has regularly funded projects devised at the national level which succeed in providing the adult population “with ways to improve their knowledge and skills, keeping them mentally fit and potentially more employable”. An honorable goal, but what does it have to do with the commons?

Simple. In 2011, the Grundtvig call for proposals ended with 56 winning multilateral projects, among which “The EU’rban Gardens Otesha project“, better known as EU’GO. It seems that the fashion and , more interestingly, the social value of the urban shared gardens has been finally recognized at a supranational level. The result is that out of the  €337.330 budget required to carry out this project, exactly 75% was provided directly by the European Union. An astonishing result that reminds us the need to develop alternative ways to enhance and improve the human capital, while also tightening interpersonal relations in discrimination-free contexts.

But what did “Piste-solidaires” – the promoter of EU’GO – devise?

In few words, EU’GO represented a bridge; a bridge that connected at once not only five countries – Italy, Germany, France, Spain and UK – but also all those local associations of citizens fully convinced that urban gardens might become propagation centers of best practices and of social inclusion, of education and of urban well-being. Social cohesion, cultural integration, sustainable development: these, thus, are the pivot themes of the EU’GO project, paying special attention to the most vulnerable segments of the society – immigrants, women, youth, disabled and elderly. The cities are meeting place par excellence. At least in theory. In fact, it was from the very reflection upon urban marginalization, isolation and discrimination that EU’GO took shape.

Transnational by nature and educational in its aims, EU’GO set an online platform in order to share the know-how and the skills developed (literally) on field in the so-called Otesha gardens. The latter, in the words of the promoters are “green spaces, innovative and active learning spaces that promote […] the collective creation of social, generational and intercultural bonds“. And so it is, in fact. Successful gardens blossomed like flowers and by word of mouth, an ever-increasing number of people devoted their time to the earth.  Even indirectly, benefits were brought to the cause, by simply focusing the attention of the general public on the sustainable development issues and on the importance of social cohesion.

Too good to be true? Yes and No. Yes, because the project lasted two years only. A too short lapse of time, even to assess some results, if we consider that the effects on a community’s way of thinking can be ascertained only in the long run.

No, because notwithstanding, EU’GO might represent a starting point, a benchmark for the States’ policy-making and for active citizens. In the light of EXPO 2015 and the latter’s focus on nutrition, poor and developing countries, together with the developed ones in the need to rethink their relationship with the planet and their strategies to foster social inclusion, might then see in EU’GO a successful experiment.


Sviluppo sostenibile a braccetto con l’inclusione sociale: EU’GO!

Quando lo sviluppo sostenibile incontra l’inclusione sociale: il progetto EU’rban Gardens Otesha, finanziato dall’Unione Europea, ha riportato risultati sorprendenti. Risultati limitati dalla breve durata del progetto, ma che potrebbero rivelarsi un utile esempio per chiunque voglia rivedere il proprio rapporto con la terra e al contempo sviluppare strategie innovative volte alla coesione sociale. 

GREEN UNIVERSITIES – Sustainable Universities World Ranking

GREEN UNIVERSITIES – Sustainable Universities World Ranking

The UI GreenMetric World University Ranking is an initiative of Universitas Indonesia which is being launched in 2010. As part of its strategy of raising its international standing, the University hosted an International Conference on World University Rankings on 16 April 2009. It invited a number of experts on world university rankings. We were aware that a number of top world universities, for example Harvard, Chicago, Copenhagen have been taking steps to manage and improve their sustainability. There are also cooperative efforts among groups of universities. A grading system which includes information on sustainability at 300 universities exists under the title the United States Green Report Card. This is excellent, however, results are given in terms of a grade (A to F) rather than a ranking and the number of universities included is relatively circumscribed. We saw the need for a uniform system that would be suitable to attract the support of thousands of the world’s universities and where the results were based on a numerical score that would allow ranking so that quick comparisons could be made among them on the criteria of their commitment to addressing the problems of sustainability and environmental impact.


BERKELEY : The UC Berkeley Office of Sustainability and Energy provides leadership to campus by setting ambitious sustainability goals and strategies and by accelerating the achievement of these goals through project implementation, planning, partnerships, and community engagement. The mission is to integrate cutting-edge sustainability practices into operations, foster the culture of sustainability at home and in the world, and enable and improve excellence in sustainability. The Office works to achieve climate neutrality and strive for excellence in breadth and depth by implementing bright green initiatives to reduce our ecological footprint, raising awareness and reducing energy use with Talking Louder and myPower campaigns, and emphasizing transparency and accountability through our plans and reports.

BOSTON : Boston University’s Sustainability Program comprises a broad range of stakeholder groups on campus to provide the greatest diversity of representation and opinion. The program is made up of sustainability@BU, Dining Services Sustainability, and the Sustainability Committee including the Sustainability Steering Committee and four working groups: Recycling and Waste Management, Energy Conservation, Sustainable Building and Facility Operations, and Communications and Outreach.