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Time and space after school: Bologna's first ‘school square’

The first ‘school square’ in Bologna will soon be realised in the Navile District, providing a new public space to give students greater autonomy and creating a new space dedicated to play.

Render of the proposed space at via Procaccini © Foundation for Urban Innovation

The project is the result of a collaboration between the Foundation for Urban Innovation and the Municipality of Bologna. Together, they have presented a proposal for the temporary installation of a pedestrian-friendly square, based on the recognised necessity for new approaches to public spaces in the city.

The specific area of intervention is the road widening of via Procaccini (at the corner of via Di Vincenzo/Andrea da Faenza), near the Testoni Fioravanti middle school which is located on via Di Vincenzo. The installation aims to provide a new pedestrian space, ensuring students greater autonomy and safety on their journey between home and school, and creating a new space dedicated to play and meeting, in accordance with the objectives of the General Urban Plan and the Plan for the Emergency Pedestrian.

Photo taken before the installment of the intervention (left) and render of the proposed intervention (right)

© Foundation for Urban Innovation

The experimental and temporary intervention precedes the realization of a school square equipped with furniture dedicated to the students of the Testoni-Fioravanti schools and more generally to all the people who spend time in the area. The plan is to transform the space into a pedestrian area covering approximately 300 square meters. The new space will be marked out with white paint on the ground and vertical signage. It will feature:

  • pedestrianized area racks

  • benches forming a semi-circular meeting point

  • writing and a game pained onto the ground

  • tubular benches

  • spheres and semi-spheres in cement to add different heights to the landscape

  • wooden planters containing medicinal and ornamental plants

The colours, materials and compositions used will aim to encourage users’ curiosity and thus to support people in imagining and practicing a variety of uses in the space, enabling them to take part in the process of transformation of space.

The school square in via Procaccini continues the experimental approach of the temporary setting up of the public space. reinforcing the idea that street experiments can be used as a process and participation tool to establish a dialogue between the space in transformation and the people who use it. This has already been exemplified other parts of the city, for example in Piazza Rossini in the university area and in Via Milano in the Savena district.

Via Milano (left) and Piazza Rossini (right) © Foundation for Urban Innovation

The installation will be ready for the beginning of spring 2022 and will have a permanence of about 12 months. If the impact of the temporary intervention is successful, the Emergent Pedestrian Plan includes the possibility of designing and implementing a permanent transformation of the area that considers the uses that people have made of the space during the first experimentation.

Before and after the implementation of the intervention The Foundation for Urban Innovation will carry out observation and monitoring activities. In addition to the tools which FIU use regularly (interviews, questionnaires, counting, mapping, photography), they also plan to shoot the area before and after the experimental transformation, to facilitate an analysis of the variation of the flow of vehicles and people, in compliance with the law on privacy. Community engagement is being managed with the support of Commonplace with the goal to integrate feedback into planning decisions. The engagement and responses that we see as a result of this experiment will be used within WP1 of EX-TRA, which is coordinated by the University of Wesminster, London, UK.

The project of temporary installation is the result of the collaboration between the Municipality of Bologna and the Foundation for Urban Innovation that, in the part of its competence, realizes it also within EX-TRA, in collaboration with the Polytechnic of Milan that will carry out an analysis on the quality of the cycle-pedestrian paths and the offer of services to build an index of accessibility of proximity of the district. The project is in continuity with the research on proximity services carried out in the framework of the Biennial Public Space 2021 in collaboration with Systematica and the Municipality of Bologna.

This article is a translation of the original article from the Foundation for Urban Innovation’s website. To view the original article (in Italian) please follow the link below.

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