What do cities really need to (re)generate? Re-conceptualizing urban Regeneration practices as “grafts”

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Extensive and complex dynamics are affecting urban contexts, radically altering the physical form, social relations and the use of space of the European city as we knew it. Often, both formal disorganization and fragmentary social relationships change the perception of the “urban”, particularly in the peripheries. The concept of “contemporary suburb” has different meanings; today it refers to different realities, including empty spaces, incomplete and/or unfinished places lacking identity. In my view, however, these “fuzzy” spaces can lead to a return to the City, or better to a renewed concept of the urban, based on the neighbourhood as a "minimum unit" of urbanity. I will start here from two considerations: 1) the lack of urban quality and of those elements able to construct identity in the city formation process; 2) a diffuse sense of “rootlessness and alienation” which is perceived much often in the new peripheries. This is part of my PhD research, dedicated to understanding which are the most important design elements able to build new urbanity, quality and identity, in contexts increasingly more fragmented and inhomogeneous. In this perspective, I proposed the concept of urban “grafts” - borrowed by agronomy, to re conceptualize development in contemporary cities. “Urban grafts” include both tangible and intangible elements as source of compatible and sustainable (re)generation, able to integrate the new within a living organism, influencing the morphogenesis of the urban space, as well as the chances to improve social interactions.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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