Urban redevelopment: transforming cities for a more sustainable future

The concept of “urban redevelopment” has its roots in the need to address the challenges associated with the growth and development of cities, with the aim of creating healthier, more sustainable, and socially inclusive urban environments. Indeed, urban redevelopment is defined as the process aimed at improving and transforming urban spaces to make cities more efficient, sustainable, aesthetically pleasing, and functional. Importance and impact of urban redevelopment. This concept is based on the idea of improving the quality of life for urban residents, reducing insecurity, promoting environmental sustainability, and preserving cultural heritage. In this article, we will explore this fascinating and complex topic, focusing on the importance of urban sustainability in this context of continuous change and progress. The evolution of urban spaces throughout history. Social and cultural dynamics constantly influence the shape and functions of the city, leading to its continuous reshaping. “Redevelopment,” intrinsic to the word “development,” implies an improvement and restoration of urban spaces considered obsolete or degraded. While this practice has always existed, it gained particular relevance in the last century, with challenges related to demographic expansion, infrastructure obsolescence, and the need for more sustainable environments. Finally, in the last decades of the 20th century, industrial cities grappled with “urban voids” left by 19th and early 20th-century industries. These voids, resulting from changes in production and economic structure, posed challenges to urban planners and designers. In this context, urban redevelopment is not only a response to the physical needs of the city but also a strategy for sustainable urban development, in which sustainable urban planning plays a crucial role. The transformation of “urban voids” into green areas and pedestrian zones reflects the importance of architecture in promoting a balanced urban environment. Let’s look at two emblematic examples of renewal, sustainability, and social interaction: the High Line in New York and the Citylife District in Milan. Iconic urban redevelopment projects: the High Line in New York The renowned High Line in New York, an elevated pedestrian walkway in the heart of Manhattan, stands as a prime example of successful urban redevelopment. Winding through the heart of Manhattan for over 2 kilometers, from the captivating Meatpacking District to 34th Street, the High Line is immersed in the city’s bustling atmosphere. What makes this elevated park so special? Its history dates to the roots of the Great Depression of the 1930s when it was built for freight transportation. However, the decline of the manufacturing industry led to its abandonment in 1980. It was only in the late 1990s that a group of visionary citizens, driven by a passion for urban revitalization, launched the ambitious High Line project. Landscape architects like James Corner and the acclaimed studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro embraced the idea, transforming a disused infrastructure into a vibrant urban oasis. The year 2009 marked the official opening of the High Line to the public, heralding an unprecedented revival of the surrounding area. The original railway tracks were skillfully integrated into the design, creating a blend of past and present. The park has become a green refuge, with meticulously curated gardens, artistic installations, and recreational spaces that invite visitors to immerse themselves in a unique experience. The High Line is not just an aesthetic success; it has also sparked economic revitalization, attracting new commercial, residential, and cultural activities. Its positive impact on the urban environment demonstrates how redevelopment can transform not only physical spaces but also the life and vitality of a community. In conclusion, the High Line in New York stands as a shining example of how vision and commitment can turn urban blight into beauty, sustainability, and community. Citylife District in Milan: a model of sustainability and innovation The centrality of green spaces and sustainable mobility is a dominant theme in modern urban redevelopment, and the Citylife district in Milan is a prime example. CityLife rises from the ashes of a disused industrial area, with the goal of transforming an industrial past into a sustainable and modern future. Initiated in the early 2000s, this project is the result of a collaboration among renowned architects and urban planners, including Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki, and Daniel Libeskind. What makes CityLife unique is its integrated approach to urban life. The project spans over a vast area of 366,000 square meters and hosts a combination of residences, offices, commercial spaces, and green areas. One of the key elements is the fusion of contemporary design and environmental sustainability, with LEED-certified buildings embracing innovative solutions to reduce environmental impact. The presence of extensive green spaces is a distinctive feature of CityLife, with over 160,000 square meters of parks and public gardens. These spaces offer a refuge from urban hustle, promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. Citizens can enjoy pedestrian paths, children’s play areas, and spaces for cultural events, contributing to the creation of a vibrant and cohesive community. CityLife is not just a real estate development project but a bold vision of how cities can evolve to meet modern needs without compromising the quality of life. This district represents a symbol of renewal, sustainability, and conviviality, demonstrating that Milan looks to the future with a unique combination of style and environmental responsibility.

Architectural Masterpieces Anticipated in 2024

Diverse projects in terms of size, approaches, and locations offer an opportunity to reflect on the direction the architecture world might take in the coming year. We’ve identified ten architectural marvels, some characterized by extreme innovation, others undergoing restoration. Discover more in this article. Egyptian Museum of Turin | Studio OMA CREDITS TO OMA The Egyptian Museum of Turin, erected in 1824 within the Collegio dei Nobili, is about to do an architectural revolution. Thanks to the visionary project conceived by Studio OMA in collaboration with David Gianotten, Andreas Karavanas, Andrea Tabocchini Architecture, T-Studio, and Andrea Longhi, the iconic structure will undergo a radical redesign, opening itself to the city and its community. Central to the innovation are the creation of Piazza Egizia, an enchanting, covered courtyard destined to become a lively public space, and six interconnected “urban rooms,” designed to host a variety of activities and attractions. Openings along the museum’s facade will invite visitors in, while the transparent covering of Piazza Egizia not only creates a bright and welcoming environment but also serves important eco-sustainable functions. This transformation not only strengthens the bond between the museum and the city but also offers a new inclusive cultural experience for all, with permanent exhibitions and events accessible to all audiences. Education Center by Kirimoto | Florence CREDITS TO ALVISI KIRIMOTO The Andrea Bocelli Foundation and the Alvisi Kirimoto studio join forces once again to create an educational and laboratory center within the Meyer pediatric hospital in Florence. Located in the northern part of the hospital area, the new building will stand out for its independent shape and slight inclination, creating a space entirely dedicated to children. Inside, a structure resembling a “leaf,” conceived by Massimo Alvisi, will host a variety of functions, promoting lightness and brightness. At the center of the building will be an oval-shaped musical laboratory in the form of a carillon, representing the project’s heart. As is typical in Alvisi Kirimoto’s projects, technical complexity will be hidden behind transparent surfaces supported by lightweight metal elements, creating a bright and welcoming environment. Restoration of Notre Dame de Paris Emmanuel Macron has announced that the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris will reopen to the public by 2024, with hopes for this to happen by December 8th. The restoration works, which began only in 2022 due to the pandemic and archaeological discoveries, focus on restoring the roof and spire according to the original design by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc from 1859. Despite controversies surrounding a modernization project, supported by Macron but abandoned after protests, the restoration is proceeding with over 800 million euros, including contributions from François Pinault and Bernard Arnault. New Sub-Central Library by Snøhetta | Beijing, China CREDITS TO PLOMP The new Sub-Central Library in Beijing will distinguish itself as a cutting-edge hub for learning and cultural exchange. Designed by Snøhetta after an international competition in 2018, the structure incorporates advanced technology and sustainable design. The self-supporting glass façade, unique in China, reflects architectural innovation. Inside, experiential spaces and an educational landscape promote shared learning. The building commits to sustainability with photovoltaic elements and solar heat reduction techniques. A benchmark for future libraries combines advanced functionality with environmental responsibility. Private Hida Takayama University by Sou Fujimoto | Hida City, Japan CREDITS TO HIDA TAKAYAMA Scheduled for April 2024, the Private Hida Takayama University aims to revitalize a rural area affected by demographic decline. Sou Fujimoto Architects is developing a campus that integrates learning with the surrounding mountainous landscape. Characterized by a wavy and accessible roof described as “an open hill”, the campus offers open spaces for socialization and inspiration. Fujimoto aims to create a dynamic learning environment that promotes interaction among students, faculty, and the local community, making the university not only an academic center but also a social and cultural reference point for the region. The self-supporting glass facade, unique in China, reflects architectural innovation. Inside, experiential spaces and an educational landscape promote shared learning. The building is committed to sustainability with photovoltaic elements and solar heat reduction techniques. A benchmark for future libraries combines advanced functionality with environmental responsibility. Sun Rock by MVRDV | Taiwan, China CREDITS TO MVRDV Signed by the Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, the project Sun Rock represents an innovative architectural work conceived as an “energy production tool” and symbolizes Taiwan’s ambitions for a sustainable transition to renewable energies. Located in the coastal industrial park of Changhua, the building houses offices, maintenance workshops, and storage spaces for renewable energy components on an area of ​​4,000 square meters of photovoltaic panels. The rounded shape is designed to maximize solar exposure, with a slope to the south and a dome to the north that optimize energy absorption. Sun Rock is self-sufficient, generating nearly 1 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year, with the ambition to increase this capacity to 1.7 million kWh annually. In addition to its function as an energy generator, the building offers a multifunctional space with a Data Room to monitor Taipower operations, a rooftop terrace with trees, and a dome of solar panels. Sun Rock embodies the vision of a greener future, transforming solar energy into a tangible resource for sustainability. The self-supporting glass facade, unique in China, reflects architectural innovation. Internally, experiential spaces and an educational landscape promote shared learning. The building is committed to sustainability with photovoltaic elements and solar heat reduction techniques. A benchmark for future libraries combines advanced functionality with environmental responsibility. Populus by Studio Gang | Denver, Colorado, USA CREDITS TO STUDIO GANG Designed by Studio Gang, Populus in Denver, Colorado, will be the first carbon-positive hotel in the United States, distinguishing itself as a pioneer of sustainable hospitality. Inspired by the Trembling Poplar trees, iconic to the American West, both in its exterior and its name, Populus pays tribute to nature. Jeanne Gang, the founder of Studio Gang, designed the hotel’s windows drawing inspiration from the growth of poplar trees, where the trunk, marked by dark eyes, sheds lower branches as it grows taller. This dynamic motif