Even if presented as an interactive installation at Alcova, via Simone Saint Bon 1 as part of Fuorisalone at the Milan Design Week 2022, Next Urban Landscapes: Datum and Resiliency by the Domus Academy emerges as a thought-project with ramifications extending further beyond the biggest festival of design on the planet. Not only is it refreshing to see a project examining and extrapolating urban systems and the "datum" fed into them amidst scores of product launches, it also brings forth the importance of speculative student projects on a global stage. That the projects - curated by the Director of Education at Domus, Mark Anderson, and by architect and professor Dante Donegani - come from an institution that has been rather intrinsic to the design culture of Milan, being among the top design schools globally, and the alma mater of several renowned designers, transforms the exhibit into a legacy display. The allure of such projects at the Milan Design Week, irrespective of the edition or the time of the year they are talked about, is that the discussions they may inspire extend beyond the scope of a single event. In the same spirit, the NEXT that the installation probes in our urban landscapes is manifested in a selection of Domus Academy workshop projects related to the 21st century city that examine the built environment through varied modified lenses, or datum.
In many ways, what the different interesting, speculative visions of an urban future by Domus students propose and inspect is a propounded cause-and-effect relationship on an urban scale, studied through distinctly urban avenues that often impart character to the city under question. Differential stimuli - economic, social, environmental, and quality of life, both individual and community level - affect the form of a city at any given time. The twisting of these stimuli, an extrapolation of our current condition into the very near future and the widening of present gaps, is bound to yield interesting insights on a city-scale. How the urban system reacts to these impetuses, resists, resiles, or gives in, forms the evolutive crux of Datum and Resiliency.
The project brings together students from varying disciplines at the Academy, including the Master's in Product Design, Interior & Living Design, and the Urban Vision & Architectural Design programs, working on one of the spaces most coveted by us humans: the roof. The proposals centre around the roof as an important urban element that is the "junction of land and sky and, at the same time, a tangible sign of the society’s fragmentation". It is only fitting that the series of workshops came to be informally known as the 'roofs' workshop. The study of roofs with such singular focus brings forth issues including ownership, vertical real estate footprint that is seen spiralling, along with the use of shared and public spaces.
The hybrid visuals of a renewed urban landscape see the introduction of construction systems and industrial components in the city of the future, the incorporation of artificial intelligence, floating green spaces, and new 'aerial methods' of mobility for goods and services. Through this extrapolation, the intent remains to further re-think the livability of our urban spaces, blurring essentially human divides that segregate and segment modern society, including urban and rural, industrial and residential, and work and leisure.
The four projects on display include Floating Environments; Escape From Data: A Data-Free Community On The Roof; The Vertical Sea; and Decade Of Resilience, each feeding different datum into the urban system, and presenting the results through visual manipulation. Floating Environments by Vatsal Hemant Shah, Luca Micheli, and Ecem Argin aims to create an environment within an urban setting where pollinators and other small animals can co-exist and collaborate with humans. Decade of Resilience by Yeonsu Lee, Himanshu Manuja, Qi Shang, and Varun Embar Sainath, creates a platform where people and growing AI technology coexist, efficiently delivering services and goods. Escape From Data: A Data-Free Community On The Roof by Can Berkay Turhan, Jedsada Baiya, and Mia and Yang Jing Han, aims to create a "data free community" wherein people can escape from the clutches of the digital life and unwind. The project doesn’t propose a complete removal of technology from our lives, but instead focuses on the introduction of alternate urban places to embrace simple connections with people. The Vertical Sea by Arya Sejpal, Yuanbo Liu, Yutong Liu, and Shuyu Luo looks at an urban farming solution that develops agricultural spaces through the use of floating, modular farms on urban roofs. Believing that the "future lies in the synergy between man, technology and nature", the project proposes a ‘zero’ ideal to strive toward, implying no emissions, waste, or pesticides since the produce could be farmed from as far as out of your window.
Summing up the intent and scope of the project, and the workshops that brought about the outcome of the exhibition at Salone, an official release states, "In this series of workshops, the investigatory context - the physical space - is defined as the stratum above or beside existing urban buildings or city fabric. The framework of layers is relevant in most projects-physical, smart and occupied."
STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts - 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini - with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile - Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.