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"Public Space. Design Guidelines." from Milan

The Municipality of Milan, together with the Authority for Mobility, Environment and Territory (AMAT), the National Association of City Transportation Officials (Nacto) and Bloomberg Associates, have recently published a manual for designing public space, entitled “Public Space. Design Guidelines”.

Pages 54-55, detailing "Participatory processes of territorial/local/urban redevelopment" © Comune di Milano

The Guide unveils flexible tools and strategies for the design of public spaces with specific attention to social inclusion, innovation, sustainability, healthiness, and contemporaneity through a plurality of interventions to promote diffuse urban regeneration and higher quality of the urban environment. Therefore, consideration is given to the design of streets, sidewalks, squares, parks, and gardens to enhance the quality, liveability, and identity of those spaces and promote a more accessible and inclusive city.

Within the EX-TRA project, this guide represents an important reference to support the vision of the "15 minutes City" and “Post-car City” with systematic transformation of mobility and the use of public spaces. It illustrates permanent street design solutions and regulation as well as transitional or temporary experiments in the street. Included in the document are case studies from Milan, exemplifying tactical urbanism - “piazze aperte” and “strade aperte” - where highly congested areas/streets have been temporarily transformed into new public spaces, such as Piazze Dergano and Spoleto-Venini pictured below.

Piazze Dergano, Milano, settembre 2018 (left); Spoleto-Venini, Milano, settembre 2019 (right) © Comune di Milano

The Manual provides urban design standards, tools, and materials to promote accessibility, connectivity, safety and comfort, social engagement, and climate change mitigation. Hence, the document has the following objectives: transform streets from “spaces” to “places” by promoting active mobility integrated with nature, to encourage social interactions using innovative technologies and materials with reduced environmental impact. Additionally, shorten travel times on foot or by bicycle by rethinking the section of the roads for more integrated and inclusive mobility, reducing social distances towards a multicentric city. Other goals are to integrate nature and increase the environmental capacity of the street materials, mitigate climate change and urban heat islands as well as reduce carbon emissions. Finally, use easy-to-maintain materials to increase the quality of the urban landscape to make the city more attractive. Street furniture can be a tool for activating the space to allow a public life as pleasant as possible, to strengthen the identity and cohesion of local communities.

"The tactical urban planning interventions make it possible to experiment with a different use of the spaces of the city and to implement long-term strategies to promote neighborhood liveability. The benefits of this new approach are linked to the immediate impact that the interventions have on citizens, who, themselves, can become promoters of innovative projects and active actors of urban transformation. [...] Strade Aperte” aims to reconcile the vision of a more sustainable and liveable city with the temporary needs of distancing physical and safety related to the post-lockdown health emergency, encouraging walking, by bicycle and scooter through a diversified offer, alternative and complementary to transport public and private cars."

(quotation from page 191 of the document, translated into English)

The Guide is structured into five sections: The first part introduces the main objectives and purposes of the document referred to the existing regulatory framework (PGT 2030, PUMS, etc); the second section describes the design strategies concerning the goals adopted in the plans. The third part analyses the Milan context and proposes guidelines based on a classification of the roads and their main physical features. Section four describes the specific components and tools for streets redesign according to the predefined guidelines. Finally, section five collects the most significant case studies undertaken in recent years in Milan. Find the full document below.


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