Public Lecture by Alessandro Armando

2/18/2015 5:41:00 AM

The City of Torino is facing a profound change which affects both its economical balance and its self-representation as a growing city, capable of relaunching itself after the industrial era. This change influences also the political choices on urban government, especially in terms of strategy on the physical evolvement of the urban structure.

After more than twenty years of growth – both in terms of value and in terms of volume – the building sector has plunged. The real estate market is reacting by contracting the trade, in order to avoid a collapse of the prices. The international investors don’t seem to be really interested in starting new enterprises in the city, and the strategic projects which have been implemented in the last two decades struggle to be achieved, and consequently they cannot fully offer a competitive playground for new developers. In this condition, the city government attempts, once more, a strategy of public offer by trying to sell public buildings and areas in the hope that a new cycle of development could raise the destiny of the urban growth. The “You can bet on Torino” initiative is a meaningful expression of this approach to the crisis, in which the role of the urban design tools and knowledge seems to be restricted to produce “things” and visions to be promised – in the evidence of their fictitiousness. Moreover, the main instruments of Urban planning and design are based on the presumption that there will be enough money and power to build what has been drawn.

The opposite approach to challenge the shrinking tendency and its worst consequences (that is deep social disease, physical and economical break-up in peripheral areas, raise of inequalities…) is to design more and to build less. The design tools can be a very effectual instrument to include problems and to support even the smallest chances of development, especially when the biggest initiatives of transformation seem to have stopped.