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Dynamic global and local impact on housing and those who live there ELISABETTA PERO architect phd student in Urban and Architectural Design - Politecnico di Milano


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Title: Dynamic global and local impact on housing and those who live there ELISABETTA PERO architect phd student in Urban and Architectural Design - Politecnico di Milano

Dynamic global and local impact on housing and
those who live there ELISABETTA
PERO architect phd student in Urban and
Architectural Design - Politecnico di Milano
  • Housing in an Era of Change
  • 2010 Housing Studies Association conference
  • University of York
  • 14th - 16th April

The theme of the house appears as a complex one,
as it involves different disciplines and reflects
the changes we are approaching, mostly with no
In the Italian context the necessity for a
political vision is becoming increasingly clear,
so as to activate sustainable projects from the
social, economic and environmental viewpoint. The
rehabilitation of housing politics, as an aswer
to the increase in demand, started some years
ago. The Italian state had essentially set the
issue aside since the eighties of the last
century, as the 80 almost of the residents owned
(as a result of pursued policies) an apartment.
The ongoing transformation, migration, changes in
lifestyle and work, the economic crisis have
raised once again the issue in terms of a real
emergency. The data make clear that the demand
is not due to an absolute shortage of housing,
but to the relative scarcity of homes for rent
(the national availability is 5 house each 100
families). For those who previously couldn't
become home owners it is now, in practice, very
difficult to access to the rent trade, because of
the supply shortage and high costs. The framework
for this new application is very broad and covers
a wide range of subjects which, for economic
reasons, joined the usual categories "weak" in
the last years new single-person households
(elderly persones especially, but also singles,
young people, adults, and students),
single-income families, lone parents, separated,
young couples with their first incomes, etc. ...
The profiles of this question are very
articulated and differentiated by age,
profession, family composition, culture, etc..
and require more targeted responses, distributed
in mixed and integrated action settlements,
according to the different tissues, characterized
by house models with an equally targeted lodging
reduction which may sometimes be linked to
social inclusion programs, varied in terms of
time permanence and access modalities 1.
1 R. Pugliese, Casa sociale, città territorio
in Labitazione sociale. Un anno di colloqui a
cura di C. Bergo e R. Pugliese, Edizioni
Unicopli, Dipartimento di Progettazione
dellArchitettura, Milano, 2007, p.13.
Non-EU immigrants, in particular, can hardly
access to the rankings for the allocation of
affordable houses, managed by the institutions,
and live in promiscuity and exploitation
conditions, in private, illegally rented houses.
Houses for rent in good conditions are mostly
unaffordable, or hardly handed over to non-EU
immigrants. Only those who have managed to build
a good economic solidity during the years
succeed, with efforts, to settle in decent homes,
purchasing the house through a mortgage bank.
The condition of Rom people is particularly
Francesco Giunti Hotel Industria Hublab Edition
The proposed policies, at the moment, (to build
new houses and investments the Lombardy Region,
for instance, has set aside, just for the
two-year period 2002-2004, 1.250 millions of
euro), have quantitatively and qualitatively
inadequate solutions. As for the situation of the
Lombardy Region in particular, the institutions
are now planning   ? The alienation of public
real estate, so as to mainly raise funds for new
houses. ? The involvement of private investors,
who are attracted by the concrete possibility to
recover their investment (for houses with a
moderate rent, for instance) ? A home concept as
a service, and not as a real property anymore ?
A more varied offer
These reflections are brought by the analysis and
policies which the present administrations
carried out, according to the objective
difficulty, caused by the economic crysis, in the
access to credit, to the depletion of public,
traditional resources, to the unaffordability of
exclusively social districts, from an economic
and social point of view. A part of these
reflections is influenced by the italian history
of the A home for anybody project, an other
part represents the interests of the local
productive realities. One could maintain that the
substantial choice, made by the institutions for
the phenomenon control, is not so much the
convinced realization of a virtuos direction, but
the recognition of the available reosurces on the
territory, so as to use them for investments with
positive effects.
Proposed directions The here expounded research
is part of a wider work, lead by the research
group of Professor Pugliese from the Politecnico
di Milano University.
First, it starts by establishing the fact that
the italian context is influenced by the lack of
a multidisciplinary comparison, which could
really direct the investment dynamics and the
home politics. Some aspects, which architectural
and urban projects broadly include, are hardly
accepted by the politics and investitors who just
follow strictly commercial criteria, as far as a
house with easier prices is nowadays expected to
get a good deal too. Sure is the deep and
uncritical refuse of what the sixties and
seventies realized about the home question.
The sixties and seventies have been marked by the
practice of a urbanistic idea, based on the
zoning , the realization of big structures to
live in, which have often been built without
applying the original project, as for the quality
of execution and the service equipment.
For the contemporary inhabitant it is difficult
to identify himself in a high-density and
uniformed looking building. In time of mass
individualism, the anonymity of big blocks of
owner-occupied flats is rejected, anybody strives
to identify his own home. In an era where much is
debated and culturally restructured, it is
necessary to find the reasons for building, free
from the ideologies of the past era. The house
isnt a machine for living, as Le Corbusier
maintained. The house is primarily a place of
extraordinary and unique relationship between the
person and the space, where the conscious and
unconscious emotions take place and in which, in
the relationship with one's own loved ones, hope
is placed 1.
1 Raffaele Pugliese, La casa ideologia o
architettura?, in QA24. Casa e città, Quaderni
del Dipartimento di progettazione
dellArchitettura del Politecnico di Milano,
Mondovì (Cn), Araba Fenice, 2009, p.202.
The identity factor gets viewpoint for the
uneasiness which many citizens experience in
their district and the so-called urban sprawl.
Milano e il suo sviluppo territoriale
If globalization and the commercial dynamics of
contemporary architecture seem, in fact, to
cancel the spatial dimension of the project, by
questioning primary concepts in the italian, but
also spanish and portuguese architecture 1,
such as urban context, local tradition,
environmental pre-existences, genius loci, some
conservative tendencies develop, as an answer to
the need for reassuring and comfortable houses,
according to a design which differs from the one
which has just been explained, because of the
exclusively imitation of the traditional-conceived
1 Montener Josep Maria, Dopo il Movimento
Moderno. L'architettura della seconda metà del
Novecento, Laterza, Bari, 1993, p. 203.
The column, the arch, the pitched roof, the brick
(chosen not for their building qualities)
characterize big parts of house buildings, which
shape the so-called urban sprawl. These are
archetypal elements which voice, perhaps, the
residents' desire to confer on one's own home
permanence and tradition.
One may consider the search for the identity
characters of the home as a desire for beauty,
and try to place this aspiration within the
discipline of architectural design in the
broader, current global context. Beauty is a very
topical subject, raised by the aspiration to
identify oneself in shared values, within an
urban development devoid of a strategic vision,
but also by the innovations which the sustainable
design introduced.
Sometimes you have to make sustainable, from an
environmental perspective, an architectural
project which was not born as a sustainable one.
An example is the brie-soleil on glass walls
facing south (a not sustainable choice in Italy)
has become an aesthetic, very fashionable
From an economic, but also social point of view
of course, this often produces unsustainable
homes. In fact they do not trigger those
processes where one's own home is recognized and
positive resources in the collectivity are
Just the lacking idea of a shared and public city
generates the desire to take root, as for what is
said at least, in something that shows the will
of permanence
The city of Milan has yet an important building
tradition matured between the wars, characterized
by the desire of an architecture that could
integrate the acquisitions of the Modern
Movement, the new industrial processes and the
continuity with the important historical
heritage. This architecture conceived itself as a
profoundly civil one. The background of this
research was the city.
Gio Ponti, a prominent member of this school,
argued that the architecture of the house was not
only a problem of art, but a problem of
civilization. The homes of tomorrow must be a
representation of our civilization itself 1 .
From this viewpoint we have to interpret he
façade-study, the care for details such as the
entrance, the corner solutions, the choice of
materials, the proportions. The apartment
buildings, the collective habitation are what is
missing today the idea of an inhabitable city.
1 Gio Ponti, Quale sarà la casa di domani? in
Gio Ponti La casa allitaliana, Milano 1933.
PHOTO Gabriele Basilico
PHOTO Gabriele Basilico
PHOTO Gabriele Basilico
Beauty and sustainability, contemporary universal
aspirations need to meet, as expensive and
invasive technological elements are applied to
homes which hardly suit innovations.
In the new paradigm of sustainability, the
global-local conflict can have a way out. Before
the addition of expensive engineering solutions,
the comprehension of the nature of the place, of
the context can really make sustainable a
project. The comprehension of a place does not
come to an end through the analysis of its
weather, but also through the analysis of its
inhabitants' lifestyle and traditions. To build
in continuity with the local aspects responds to
the global need of a sustainable building. The
recognition of one's own home stimulates positive
resources in the territories.
It seems that the city of Milan, doubtful as to
the imitation of global, trade-asserted models or
as to the nostalgic reaction, does not want to
make itself responsible for this heritage.
For the apartment-plans also it is difficult to
adapt themselves to the new requirements. Europe
is experimenting with varied apartment-models,
marked by different levels of flexibility in the
internal distribution. The italian law prevents
the enforcement of some strategies which were
applied in other countries and at other times.
Even the productive building system shows serious
backwardness which hinders an industrialized
building method. We can say that it is a
structural Italian problem, exemplified by the
possibility to design middle high houses, able,
through the advantages of an increased brightness
and a good air circulation, to make up for the
possible small dimensions.
GERMANIA, 1997-2001
Contemporary city without an idea of public space
but developed according to a simple juxtaposition
of parts
The link with the city and the sustainability-fact
or raise the question of density, whose low index
were among the reasons for the development of
urban sprawl and for the consequent waste of
land. In the Italian context, characterized by
the scarcity of land, it is necessary to support
a building that promotes a high density living,
which may have the power to attract services and
infrastructures, a guarantee of quality housing
as well. High density can also depreciate the
cost of areas and divide it into more apartments.
If the residents' hostility to tall buildings is
caused by the formal and functional uncertainty
of the open space, solutions that offer low and
high-density homes seem to be very interesting.
TRANSLATED BY Matteo Ghidotti
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