Let’s not call them suburbs…

Let’s not call them suburbs…

One of the great themes underlying city development is that of the suburbs. The centre/suburb juxtaposition has for decades characterised the functions, urban quality and value of city spaces, and the term suburb has almost always had a negative connotation: an uninteresting urban area considered difficult, with problems of physical and social degradation, and usually quite a low level of quality of life.

One of the main voices that have made themselves heard for years on this topic is that of the great Italian architect Renzo Piano, who started from the simple observation that the majority of the urban population lives in the suburbs. Piano says: ‘The suburbs, the city of the future, are the place where human energy is concentrated and which we will hand down to younger generations. We need to undertake a huge initiative to fix the dynamic and we need ideas.’

Key words: ‘intensifying the city’ (urban standards), building on the built, ensuring a mix of functions, creating meeting points to share values and ‘celebrating a ritual known as urbanism’. The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made reflection on the way our cities are organised even more relevant. And the context is favourable.

In Europe, the Green Deal, the strategy for growth launched by the Commission in January 2020, works precisely in this direction and includes actions to ensure greater energy efficiency in buildings. Next Generation EU, meanwhile, is a set of measures (worth a total of 750 billion euros) approved in July 2020 by the Council of Europe to counter the financial and social difficulties generated by the COVID-19 emergency. Now more than ever is the time to act.

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