Public Lecture by Alessandro Armando

2/17/2015 11:47:00 AM

On last January a group composed by four different research units – based in Turin, Venice, Hong Kong and Guangzhou – tried to define a common ground about the possibility of description of four different case studies of public urban transformation, by proposing an exhibition and a conference at Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. The Watersheds event enabled to compare different approaches and experiences about some general aspects which can be considered as a sort of invariant structure of the formalized processes of development in the urban space, along a river or a canal.

The main outcome of this answer was a series of diagrams describing 50 years of transformation in the four cities, assuming this main statement: in all cases there are decisions, negotiations, projects and effects of modification that accumulate over time. One of the essential requisites for the construction of diagrams was the consideration of the system of actions performed and their effects (actor-network theory), instead of analysing the network of players with subjective interactions (stakeholder analysis).

Despite the deep differences of contexts, the diagrams highlighted a series of similarities, which were investigated and discussed. The main feature was that none of the processes recorded took place in a linear way, along a simple top-down process, even in cases of high efficiency and governmental control. Even observing only the local subsystems of the long processes, in all four contexts the actions undertaken following a political decision had produced sequences of effects that had been deviated before materialising in a territorial modification.

The concept of deviation can be put at the basis of a different use of the urban design competence. A deviation is usually considered as a disturbing element when a scenario is produced: architects don’t like to be contradicted by odd facts. Forecasting deviations and including them in the design of future transformation could be the horizon for innovating the tools available to urban designers .Torino and Skopje have been experiencing in these years many occasions of exchange, on designing the scenarios of future transformation and by attempting to measure their effectuality. This effort can enable us, today, to consider a common approach towards urban design disciplines, as a field of integration and overlapping between the technical and the political dimension in the urban development.