The Italian architect Stefano Boeri is known worldwide for his green towers in Milan and his forest cities in China. After the passage of the Covid-19, he advocates a return to villages, the greening of cities and profound changes in lifestyles. Otherwise, our current cities will become the focus of real contamination bombs.
" A New Era, more environmentally friendly and without fossil fuels, will open up after the coronavirus pandemic", says Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri, known for his "vertical forests".
In a Facebook interview with foreign journalists, the president of the Milan Triennial, a major institution of architecture, design and art, said that the capital of Lombardy, the most affected Italian region with almost half of the deaths recorded on the peninsula, will have to change.
" Returning to normality would be very serious« he warns. « Normalcy is one of the causes of this disaster...« insists the urban planner, known for his innovative projects of skyscrapers covered with vegetation combining ecology and sustainable development.
" Now is the time to make courageous and pragmatic decisions...« The architect, whose more social and greener architecture has inspired many of his colleagues around the world, from China to Mexico, says.
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Together with a group of sociologists, anthropologists, town planners and artists, he is reflecting on how to establish the "biological wall" that the coronavirus now imposes between people, as well as how to introduce a new way of life. « Otherwise, cities will turn into bombs of contamination« says Stefano Boeri, a professor at the Milan Polytechnic.
While the Italian authorities are relaxing containment measures and relaunching the economic machine, Stefano Boeri is launching a series of proposals that could change the future of the peninsula and serve as a model for many countries.
Back to the villages
" This is a national project. Italy has 5,800 villages with less than 5,000 inhabitants, 2,300 of which are virtually abandoned. While the country's 14 metropolises adopt these small uninhabited historic centres, giving them tax benefits, transportation, etc., would be a way out. This is the future« The town planner was enthusiastic in the columns of the daily newspaper La Repubblica.
This proposal seems to respond to the problems posed by the current situation, where the pandemic forces the population to maintain a distance of at least one metre between individuals, which is difficult in overcrowded cities, especially in crowded public transport and small office spaces. « We have understood that we can telework and spend more time at home. We have to control this development. The countryside facilitates this, because we need to free up space in urban areas.« he explains.
According to sociologists, because of the virus, many people want to leave the big cities to spend more time in the countryside.
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And the man who converted buildings into forests, who designed a forest city in China with houses, schools and offices covered with a million plants on 140 hectares, is convinced that Rome is the ideal city to host this project. « Rome is the city of the future, it has it all: unique monuments and lots of green spaces thanks to its parks, and also a series of villages in its surroundings."
Boeri's idea coincides with the theme of the next Venice Biennale of Architecture, which has postponed its opening, originally planned for May, until the end of August: "How will we live together? »
The question posed by the curator of the Biennale, Hashim Sarkis, a Lebanese architect who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), paradoxically forces the world of architecture to disinvest in public space and withdraw from it collective activities. « We will have to change the timetables of public administrations so that they do not coincide with those of the schools, that the large transport flows (...) We will have to give more space to cars and focus on green."
" This is what happened in New York in the mid-19th century: the population had quadrupled, and there was no more space, the density was enormous. Landscape architect Olmsted created Central Park, a gigantic park that was born out of a preoccupation with hygiene.« he recalls.
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