The Municipality of Milan, together with the Milan Transport Authority (AMAT, Agenzia per la Mobilità, Ambiente, Territorio), organized a public event on 26th May to present an evaluation report of the Piazze Aperte experience and its future perspectives. Piazze Aperte is a project promoted by the Municipality since 2018 in collaboration with Bloomberg Associates and the Global Designing Cities Initiative and developed by AMAT. Its primary goals are urban regeneration and sustainable mobility, defined in the official planning documents (municipal plan "Milano 2030" and SUMP) through the enhancement of public spaces as lively gathering places at the centre of the neighbourhoods. This strategy adopts the approach of tactical urbanism to promote radical, reversible, quick and easy transformations through temporary reconfiguration of the form and uses of car-oriented or underutilized spaces, to be adapted and repurposed for public uses. Piazze Aperte also aims to foster collaboration between citizens and the Public Administration, activating forms of participation both in identifying suitable areas to be transformed and in their subsequent management and care.
Piazza Dergano: Before and during the experiment (2018). The permanent transformation was completed in 2021. © Comune di Milano
The implementation includes an initial analysis and design phase, followed by a tactical test realized on-site through inexpensive materials for connoting the space (ground paint, street furniture, plantings). The opening of the experiment starts simultaneously with the monitoring phase, which foresees the direct observation of the space's evolving uses and surveys to collect users' feedback. A positive evaluation can eventually lead to the final permanent design oriented by the data collected in the experimental phase.
Piazza Angilberto II: Before and during the experiment (2018). The permanent transformation was completed in 2022. © Comune di Milano
Based on the figures shared during the event, the Municipality implemented 38 out of 60 interventions proposed by citizens, associations, private businesses, and other local stakeholders. At least five of these experimental interventions have been made or are in the process of becoming permanent. Piazze Aperte are distributed throughout the Milan municipality and, in the three years of the project's life, the project has created 22,000 m2 of furnished pedestrian space. The administration estimates that thanks to the diffusion of the interventions, half of Milan's residents can reach the closest Piazza Aperta within a 15-minute (800 m.) walk from their homes.
Key achievements and mapping of the Piazze Aperte interventions presented in the Report. © Comune di Milano
Due to the success of the Piazze Aperte project, the Municipality of Milan has identified an effective way to promote street transformations that can have an immediate and evident impact on the quality of the spaces and the livability of neighbourhoods. If embedded in an urban-scale strategic vision, the experimental approach tested in several "corners of the city" can accelerate changes and face the increasingly complex sustainability urban challenges. The city also learned from the shortcomings and difficulties encountered during the experiments. This learning-by-doing approach made it possible to build practical knowledge to plan future interventions and create guidelines to increase further the project's impact and visibility, including international visibility. During the event, which project leaders attended along with Jannette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Mayor Beppe Sala ideally kicked off the new season of Piazze Aperte. The strategic focus of this new phase, set to begin in the coming months, will be on the transformation of spaces around the schools, considering that these are the most successful interventions among those launched in the past.