Social housing: when open space responds to collective needs
1. The shared open space: container of ideas, ties, values
Considering the intervention of designers in an environment that today suffers the discount of a housing densification process that is too often homologated and inattentive to the real needs of citizens, social housing and the open spaces relevant to it can be seen as an effective response problem.
From the end of the nineteenth century to the 1970s, the European context was affected by the "wild" construction of the territories that generated poorly liveable environments, without green spaces and aggregation; today the need is to start again from those same “mistakes, from unhealthy spaces, to rethink them and exploit them in a social key to give back to citizens a sense of belonging now lost. There is a need to reinterpret places, rediscover their functions and exploit their potential: "hybrid spaces" are thus generated, unusual places that until recently were conceived in relation to their traditional purpose and which had never acquired any other meaning.
The external staircase now becomes a space of forced passage, the unusual access balconies at high altitude that generate sociality between neighbors, the terraces a meeting place overlooking the city. The attack on the ground becomes fundamental both for the image it offers of the building, with respect to the neighborhood, and for its function in creating a public-private space that adds value and becomes a pole of attraction for the citizens of the entire lot.
It is therefore necessary to encourage the integration of built volumes and open spaces exploited in a social key. Through the transformation and exploitation of already urbanized areas (also in the case of historic centers), not only would we avoid the construction of free spaces that are now decreasing but we would help revitalize and renew areas that have often been degraded or frozen in their status for years. Despite this, the question of open spaces is nowadays complicated; the exponential consumption of land and its poor management have caused a crisis and have led to the need to reaffirm the collective value with which it is possible to contribute to urban regeneration.
The open space is a promoter of aggregation and if conceived as a collective place, different subjects can find common interests and particular recreational activities that favor socialization.
Nowadays it is necessary to place at the base of any design decision, the idea that the outdoor space is closely connected with the places of living, and that it has a great potential that must be exploited. The same must be interpreted as a place of rest and rest but also of exchange and passage, a place for everyone to share their daily life together.
2. Live the open space and share it in a participatory way.
Urban actions and RE-actions
The culture of collective living requires citizens to actively participate in the establishment and operation of the service network, in cultural, social and recreational activities. Nowadays the innovative reactions of some fringes of citizens are increasingly frequent who, driven by different motivations (green supporters, socially engaged, event organizers ...) act on the urban territory in order to show their willingness to re-appropriate it to make it more livable and more experienced.
In the urban environment, gardens, since the times of post-war crisis, have constituted food supply and hobby activities. Today, due to the economic crisis but also to the need to regain an excessively discolored relationship with nature, many citizens practice the cultivation of plants and aromatic species within their domestic spaces.
At the European level, this is a phenomenon sometimes encouraged by the Institutions which have the objective of "creating community" with an environmental footprint.
In Germany, for example, “mobile” forms of cultivation are adopted when the gardens are located in occupied areas. These are tanks made with pallets or plastic bags that can be easily moved in case of construction or change of use of the area. Although European countries differ in some aspects in the practices for the development of urban gardens, in all of them there is a desire to recover the ancient sense of community and participation now absent in increasingly less aggregated urban contexts.
: relationship between people, healthy urban environment, 0 km food, sustainability
Example of an urban garden in London and its articulation in a European suburb
Born with the intention of contrasting the progressive urban decay, that of "Guerrilla Gardening" is a peaceful movement that is conquering most of the countries of the world. The goal is to beautify the city by inserting plants and flowers in the beds of abandoned or forgotten areas. This is a real cause in the name of the re-appropriation of now sterile city spaces.
: urban beautification, the flourishing of abandoned lots
“Guerrillere” at work in a Berlin neighborhood
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