Lofts districts in Milan. Overlapping tensions between uses and regulations. Instruments for urban and architectural design

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The topic of conversion of industrial buildings and compounds into lofts got very little attention in the Italian case, represented mainly by the city of Milan. The gray areas of national and local regulations allowed the unplanned emergence of entire multi-functional enclosed districts within the city, built from the ruins of former industrial plants. Due to the inherent flexibility of industrial buildings, with spaces that can be divided horizontally and vertically in modules which can be joined and split, lofts allow for the coexistence of diverse uses. Officially listed as workshops, these units host housing, commerce, small manufacturing, one next to the other or even in the same unit. Lofts developments may represent a case of overlapping tensions, of uses and practices and at the same time a possible way to use architectural and urban design to address several issues about the contemporary city, as the flexibility of uses and urban manufacturing. The contribution aims first to quantify the phenomenon in the city of Milan through a map of loft developments and then present one of the most critical cases, showing the tensions produced in these environments between the different uses, formal and informal, legal and illegal. Keywords: loft, industrial heritage, reuse, flexibility
Planning for Transition – book of proceedings 31; 2