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Conclusive Experimentation Lab in Milan, La Piana on June, 2nd 2016

By Davide Fassi

The team sets up its main tasks in an overall process in order to systematize and make the most of the complexity of an action-research project. The Milan team framed an educational design programme to build the in-the-field actions to be done by design students and researchers in order to involve in a longer and articulated process citizens and local organizations of the urban context selected for the experimentation labs: “La Piana” area in Milan.

The process has been developed in collaboration with the local theatre “Atir-Ringhiera” staff, which has been involved in all the phases: the co-creation briefing session in October 2015, the Masterclass “Temporary Urban Solutions” (October 2015 – January 2016 – elective course at the master level, School of Design, Politecnico di Milano), the first Experimentation Lab on January 30th 2016, the “Human Cities exhibition” during the Milan Design Week and two Experimentation Labs, one involving the visitors of the exhibition and the other involving the Human Cities partners, local organizations and inhabitants around La Piana area, in April 2016.

The last step (May – June 2016) framework of the research+experimentation in the Milanese context of La Piana area has been focused on collecting and analyzing the results of the previous experimentation labs and exhibition in order to prepare the final one on June 2nd at La Piana.

The experimentation was part of the yearly neighborhood event, organized by the Atir Ringhiera theatre. This 1-day public event sees the involvement of local organizations and inhabitants in a set of activities with and for a wide public (children, families as well as all age groups). These activities include collaborative pop-up urban art actions, short performances in the theatre and on La Piana square, children’s artworks exhibition and playful activities. During this event, La Piana is highly liven up by the neighborhood. For this experimentation, organized with and for the theatre staff, the team decided to reuse the big grid panels of the experimentation set up for the visitors of the Human Cities exhibition during the Milan Design Week. The activity was similar but with a different purpose: people were asked to decorate them with a variety of colorful canvas in order to make them become coverings for the summer sunny days on La Piana. Many people joined the activity and the follow-up action will be the creation of a solid structure for the brand new outdoor covering in the next spring (2017) by the theatre staff.

The collaboration between the theatre and the Milan research team was established to enhance the relationship between the citizens and the urban space by using design approach, tools and output; these experimentation labs “put on stage” the citizens’ stories related to La Piana, also thanks to an ongoing co-designed process with the main local partner involved, the Atir Ringhiera theatre staff, creating a legacy in between the lab results and the future of the public area.