The exhibition Verde Prato, curated by Elisa Cristiana and Emilia Giorgi, which will set the stage for the Operational Plan of the Municipality of Prato and the multitude of actions and strategies implemented in recent years to define the new instrument for the Tuscan city’s urban policies, will open at the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci on Tuesday. It is an experimental and innovative project, the result of intense team work by the Municipality of Prato’s Planning Office which boasts of valuable contributions from international experts such as the architect Stefano Boeri and the scientist Stefano Mancuso, to mention just a few. A tale that unfolds through texts and images along the creative process that aims to transform Prato into a green, European and open city, integrating the nature system with the built environment.
“Green Prato. Urban experiments between ecology and reuse”
March 20—April 11, 2019
Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci
Viale della Repubblica 277, Prato
In addition to the focus on town planning aspects, the exhibition will present an installation devised for the occasion by Stefano Mancuso, photographic projects by talents such as Fernando Guerra, Maurizio Montagna and Delfino Sisto Legnani, and an interactive robotic machine that allows the public to navigate the various elements of the Plan. The exhibition is completed by an area designed as a meeting spot and a space for taking part in educational activities, conferences and round tables, turning the exhibition into a place of debate, a living square inside the museum.
The Operational Plan of Prato is an innovative Town Planning document drawn up by the Planning Office and adopted in September 2018. It is based on the great experience transmitted by the Prato legacy of the urbanist Bernardo Secchi at the end of the Nineties. Prato is observed in its metropolitan dimension and induced to relaunch the manufacturing heritage and re-evaluate the natural heritage, surpassing the division between the city and agricultural spaces thanks to wide-ranging management. The challenge, also conducted thanks to an extensive participation programme, “Prato al Futuro” – which involved all the citizens and saw professionals from the design world dialogue with the Municipal Administration, stakeholders and associations – is to promote the reuse of the city, reducing new land consumption, and develop an urban forestation project, using ecology to respond to the global challenges of climate change and local challenges involving the well-being of residents. Building on these objectives, the exhibition covers 3 thematic areas: Ecology, Re-Use and Going Public.
The Ecology section includes the urban forestation idea conceived of by two pillars of excellence in the “environmental revolution”: the architect Stefano Boeri and the scientist Stefano Mancuso. According to Mancuso, “redevelopment with plants is the most effective tool to improve the environmental and social quality.” For this reason, he turned Prato into a case study and worked with his team to conduct a census of the city’s arboreal heritage, using plants as urban sensors. To complement this work, Boeri produced an Action Plan for the Urban Forestation of Prato, with the aim of having one tree for each inhabitant of the city. The section is linked to the site-specific installation Urban Jungle by Stefano Mancuso, a system of bordering ecosystems that evokes an ideal city skyline as a single, enormous urban jungle, beyond the traditional separation between the built environment and nature. “Not only along the avenues, in the parks, in the flowerbeds, and in the gardens, but wherever there is an available surface – roads, façades, roofs – there must be a plant,” says Mancuso.
Prato al Futuro – che ha coinvolto tutti i cittadini e portato professionisti del mondo della progettazione a dialogare con l’Amministrazione Comunale, con le parti interessate, con le associazioni – è quella di promuovere il riuso della città, riducendo il nuovo consumo di suolo, e mettere in campo un progetto di forestazione urbana, rispondendo con l’ecologia alle sfide globali del climate change e a quelle locali del benessere degli abitanti. Prendendo avvio da questi obiettivi la mostra si snoda attraverso 3 aree tematiche: Ecology, Re-Use e Going Public.
Nella sezione Ecology trova posto il programma di forestazione urbana ideato dalle due massime eccellenze della “rivoluzione ambientale”: l’architetto Stefano Boeri e lo scienziato Stefano Mancuso. Secondo Mancuso, “riqualificare con le piante è lo strumento più efficace per il miglioramento della qualità ambientale e sociale”. Per questa ragione ha fatto di Prato un caso di studio, e ha lavorato con il suo team per censire il patrimonio arboreo della città e calcolarne i benefici per la cittadinanza. In modo complementare, Boeri ha prodotto un Action Plan per la Forestazione Urbana di Prato, con l’obiettivo di poter contare un albero per ogni abitante della città. Alla sezione è legata l’installazione site-specific Urban Jungle ideata da Stefano Mancuso, un insieme di ecosistemi confinati che evoca un ideale skyline cittadino come unica ed enorme giungla urbana, al di là della tradizionale separazione tra costruito e natura. “Non soltanto lungo i viali, nei parchi, nelle aiuole, nei giardini, ma dovunque ci sia una superficie disponibile: strade, facciate, tetti, lì deve esserci una pianta”, afferma Mancuso.
The Re-Use section opens with a reference, through drawings and historical photos, to the experience of the Prato Laboratory, led from 1976 to 1978 by the director Luca Ronconi with the architect Gae Aulenti: one of the first reuse experiments involving manufacturing facilities in view of “a theatre above all acted, based on a place other than the theatre,” in Ronconi’s words. The central topic of the new Operational Plan is in fact the definition of strategies to transform the existing building heritage, and in particular the industrial archaeology within the urban areas. Following the logic of outlining a sustainable development scenario for the city, the Operational Plan sets out the intervention methods relating to reuse of the buildings, including them within a broad vision of the city that sees Prato, the “factory city,” as one of the paradigmatic places at international level in terms of re-cycling practices, a dynamic context that can aim to become a European “eco” district of excellence, implementing a circular economy process.
Finally, the Going Public section starts with some shots taken from the photographic project by Delfino Sisto Legnani carried out in 2016, as part of the installation Manufacturing Assemblages in Prato by Matilde Cassani at the Oslo Architecture Triennale, demonstrating how celebrations for Chinese New Year in the historical centre and the industrial district became a spectacular occasion for integration between the city and its different communities. The topic of public space and of a city suitable for its inhabitants runs through the entire Operational Plan, and interfaces with all the themes addressed by the Plan: from the Cento Piazze to the Riversibility projects, from 5G technology (Prato has been chosen as one of the five italian cities where it will be tested) to Smart Mobility. Prato therefore conceives of its Operational Plan from the logic of promoting the idea of an open city, a city of global hospitality accessible to and usable by all categories of its inhabitants.
The projects dedicated to Prato by the photographers Fernando Guerra and Maurizio Montagna meander along the gallery walls and envelop the exhibition space as stage sets. The exhibition includes a selection of the imposing photographic survey carried out by the Lisbon artist Fernando Guerra at the end of 2017 to interpret the transformation phase the city is undergoing, thereby revealing the stratification of the landscape and the many types of city that Prato is constructing, placing attention on the reuse and regeneration of the manufacturing heritage. Imagination and future are two closely linked terms that represent the starting and arrival points for the project Paregon (2018) by the Milanese photographer Maurizio Montagna. Here the attention is placed on the plant world, whose dynamics seems to suggest the path for a new collective action, thereby changing our perspective coordinates after centuries of anthropocentric vision. The stage designed by Fosbury to accommodate conferences, round tables and spaces to examine the central topics of the Operating Plan in more depth, from the perspective of participation that has always represented the basis of this new urban planning instrument, is an integral part of the exhibition. An object that becomes a playscape for children and the educational activities promoted by the museum.