co+labo radović Theory and Practice of Urbanity and co+labo way at Politecnico di Milano
(an extended report)
Within TPU, Davisi also delivered lectures on her fieldwork annotations "sketch and Script" method, latest research on urban requalification, and presented her current artwork, as it was being produced in Milano (see below).
On 31 March, TPU hosted two guest speakers. The first to speak was Professor Bertrando Bonfantini (a coordinator of the Contemporary City Programme at Politecnico) who introduced his Milano as a series of itineraries and narratives, and as a city which needs to further advance through introduction of the new "narrative infrastructures" for future urbanity. His focus at four major urban projects, Santa Giulia, Portillo Nord, City Life and Porta Nuova brought together the stories about development ambitions in the recent history of Milano, their various failures and successes, discrepancies between what was planned and designed, and what was realised - where accidents often brought gain, rather than any qualitative loss. Combining his expert views and well argued opinions, Bertrando emphasised how Porta Nuova project, for instance, with all of its controversies, is one of the projects with special potential to contribute to the broader public good, precisely because it stitches together the string of diverse parts of Milano in one, continuous narrative of pedestrian scale.
The second guest speaker was a young researcher from Barcelona, Gloria Serra Coch. She spoke about Barcelona of a native, an insider for whom living in the great Catalan capital, a must-visit tourist node of global fame, entails strong sense of living in a village, surrounded mainly by familiar places and faces. Over time, such personal, finely knit networks expand to form patchworks of lived fragments, never acquiring a sense of systematic whole. Gloria ended her talk by tabling a number of profound questions, including the provocation which Barcelona itself so forcefully puts forward: have we "condemned functionalism to fast"? Or, in other words, isn't the Cerda's plan, a perfect example of the much maligned, top-down imposition of strong geometrical layout and order, an example of resilient urban structure which works extremely well, one which keeps on reinventing itself while, somehow, keeping that strong, established identity?!
Professor Marco Imperadori's Milano was the one of recent the EXPO 2015, and pavilions - Save the Children, Island Countries, UK and Japan - to conception, design and construction of which he and his team have variously contributed. Marco's special emphasis was on the legacy of that event, stressing how his interest is not only in history and present of Milano but equally for what is coming up, as Milano always was and it remains an "impermanent city, always changing."
Somewhat similar was the focus on Bologna, chosen by Luisa Bravo and Simone Garagnani, partners in life and partners in research. They presented some of their investigations in the city where they live. The lens of their research pulls together Luisa's urban design sensibility and Simone's passion for technology and complex representations of spatial quality. They are both closely associated with co+laboradović, and their presentation, of projects such as "Upgrading Bologna 2.0", "Le Bologne Possibili", "Mapping Urban Perception", closely resonated with some of Darko's own points within TPU.
Mina Akhavan, one of Teaching Assistants of TPU 2017, talked about her Teheran. In explaining "The Paradox City of Cities", Mina delved into some of the stark contrasts of the Iranian capital juxtapositions of the mountain and the flat Teheran, the Teheran of the rich and the Teheran of the poor, the city of Architecture and "the city of no-Architetcure", the city of green infrastructure and that of grey infrastructure, of Fordism and of post-Fordism, religion and irreligion, all together forming a puzzling and fascinating kaleidoscope, another kind of urbanity and otherness, into TPU 2017.
The final guest lecturer in TPU 2017 was Leonardo Zuccaro Marchi, who teaches urbanism at TU Delft. He made a special visit to Milano only to deliver his talk on "The Heart of the City - Milano Killing the Modern". Leonardo's erudite cross-referencing of concrete realities of Milano and some of the key events in the history of the Modern Movement, with special emphasis on CIAM 1951 and the concepts of the hollow core, social presence and continuity provided a fitting ending to the series of the rich guest programme of TPU.
TPU was designed to end, but not conclude. The aim of the course was to help the participants to take off, to elevate intellectual aspects of their discourse about the cities and to enhance the capacity to think critically and creatively. A major contribution to that and contribution to an ending which helps the course exceed itself was the exhibition by Davisi Boontharm, "Unfolding Navigli". Davisi presented several (un)foldable notebooks, with sketches from the reemerging canals of Milano, in which she beautifully combines the talent and sensibility of a mature artist with keen and experienced focus and logic of an urban researcher, to achieve a provocative and open-ended synthesis of both aesthetic and documentary quality, opening the spaces which she chose as of special significance in the city to new readings.
In order to further stress the non finito character of TPU (first hinted upon in design of the limited-edition stamp) the very last session, held on Saturday 8 April 2017, was just another TPU "horizontal exhibition", a moment to step back and contemplate together the rich diversity of qualities of Milano, as seen by the TPU 2017 students. ... That was TPU 2017.