Protagonists of urban changes

The 6th April at 3:32 hour a lot of people in the centre of Italy lost their homes and their cities. Instead of waiting the long time for reconstruction and in order to start to live again, they do it themselfs. Pescomaggiore is a self-build and self-financed village, which allows families to stay and live in their country. Eva project is not just an ecovillage, is the starting point of a long term project ALMA (“Abitare-Lavoro-Memoria-Ambiente), i.e. an action plan to define and implement with stakeholders the effective rebirth of the city. Living, Working, Memory, Environment are four key aspects for the development of people.

In the last decades in Europe, the crescent diffusion of structures and projects aimed to the involvement of the community and more generally of local development and integrated public policies, has lead to a radical shift in new models of approach to the city planning. Tools like Local Agenda 21, Urban II are methods that simplify the active participation of people.

Techniques, tools and methodologies for managing participatory processes we can count a lot. Some interesting methods and tools suggested method that have a resonance in contemporary times are:

-GOPP (Goal Oriented Project Planning) is a method that facilitates the planning and the coordination of projects through a clear definition of objectives and is part of an integrated approach called PCM (Project Cycle Management), published in 1993 by the European Commission.

- Metaplan born and spreads in Germany in the '70s thanks to the work of the brothers Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle. It is a method particularly careful to the management of communication processes in working groups, based on the collection of opinions of the participants and their subsequent organization into logical blocks up to the formulation of action plans that are highlighted problem areas, and possible solutions.

-Open Space Technology (OST) is a management technique workshop created in the mid 80's by Harrison Owen. It allows any group of persons in any type of organization, to make meetings and work particularly interesting and productive. The methodology, which is based on the self, allows you to work together on a complex issue, groups with a number of participants ranging from 5 to 1000 people in a day of workshops, conferences or three days in the weekly staff meeting.

-Planning for real is a technique used to conduct a process of participatory urban planning, widely used in northern Europe by members of the New Urbanism. Created and released by the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation, it is an interactive tool used during the 70s as a tool to give "voice" to the people, and a clear idea of ​​what the local community needs to the professionals. It uses a large scale model (1:300), which is constructed and manipulated directly by local residents to make suggestions. The goal is to enable local planning and self-consciousness, overcoming the psychological barriers that often prevent, thus allowing greater clarity in identifying the problems and solutions of the neighbourhood by its inhabitants and better communication between them, the engineers and external consultants.

Participatory planning started in the period between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by Patrick Geddes, who theorizes a reform instrument for city planning in a friendly-environment way, where "place", "people" and "work" are the key words of this method.

Participation is the way to better express the "culture" of the place in all its aspects. The resulting design processes through the mobilization of individual and collective energies lead to the creation of environments and spaces respectful of the place. The basis of the design process involved is an element radically different from the standard practices of planning: the people are no longer passive subjects, but they become active participants in the design process and through specific knowledge of places and problems, produce a substantial quality jump.

Local knowledge in its cultural and economic aspects is the hub of the territorial and social projects.
The enlarged communication, the critical listening, the interpretation of individual and collective needs, the continuous exchange between participants of the design process outline in a clear way the real needs, reveal the unspoken needs. The inhabitants become producers of the territory and the environment. It is important to bring out the ability to be "protagonist of changes", most of all the young generation.

“Participation is a complex matter. But I still believe that architecture is one of the ways out. The architecture is in fact a model of communication, which potentially everyone could use.” (G. De Carlo)

Recommended reading:
G. Tagliaventi, Urban Renaissance, Grafis - Bologna