What We Talk about When We Talk about Productive Territories: The Case of Shrinking Italy

By Simonetta Armondi.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is concerned with developing a better understanding of the dynamics that affect the relationship between productive settlements and their geographical and spatial contexts at different scales in the XXI century. Starting from recent research, it shows a focus on workspaces and places in building the new post-crisis economic landscape. The paper states that the changing patterns of places and space of production are a helpful perspective to observe—and also to criticize—the dominant narratives “at work”: global city-regions, space of flows, creative cities, and creative industries and clusters. Starting from heterogeneous Italian case studies—a post industrial district, a historical industrial district in decline, a creative cluster, an urban fashion district, etc.—this paper deals with four questions: why is it crucial to talk about productive territories? What are “productive” settlements and landscapes in contemporary cities and territories from the point of view of urban research and of design practices? How do they change? What are their materials and how project strategies and principles can be used for future sceneries and policymaking? Finally, it shows how the contemporary “shrinking era” is an opportunity (maybe the first) to redesign sustainability and habitability for such contemporary “no-go zones.”

Keywords: Italy, Shrinking Territories, Industrial Urbanism

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.61-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.335MB).

Dr Simonetta Armondi

Post-Doctoral Researcher, Department of Architecture and Planning, Milan Polytechnic, Milan, Italy

Simonetta Armondi is a Research Fellow at Politecnico di Milano (Department of Architecture and Urban Studies). She has graduated in Architecture at Venice University in Italy. She holds a PhD and a Master’s in Environmental and Territorial Planning from Milan Polytechnic, where she is involved in research activities about changing productive settlements, contemporary spatial patterns, and planning strategies. She has done research on partnership building, project strategies in territorial development policies within EU funded programs, and she has worked in EU research project about evaluation policies at the regional and national level. She has taught two courses focusing on the link concerning development projects and planning. At present, she teaches territorial development projects and policies in the Politecnico di Milano, School of Architecture (Master of Science in Urban Planning and Policy Design, Bachelor in Planning). Her current work identifies the peculiarity of Italian shrinking settlements (productive and touristic sectors), framed by economic crisis, as a chance to rewrite planning projects and tools. On these topics, she has written one book and several essays.