Mapping San Siro



10294973_740095552679747_7380988699649110148_oMapping San Siro, Milan (Italy) 2014-15

Politecnico di Milano

San Siro neighbourhood is one of the biggest and more problematic public housing districts in Milan, composed of about 6000 apartments with around 10,000 residents, more than 40% of which are immigrants (doubling the city’s average) and with a consistent percentage are elderly people (mostly living alone) and people with psychological disabilities. Founded in 2013, Mapping San Siro is a live lab for knowledge-sharing between the academia and San Siro neighborhood, enhancing teaching activities through civic engagement; it is a multiplesource observatory on social and spatial dynamics providing the local community with support for design and access to information and data. The lack of information, indeed, often prevents the development of a local capacity to face problems, change situations, understand certain dynamics, especially because of the difficulty of interacting with local institutions and having access to formal data.

Moving from this consideration, in 2013 we have promoted the creation of a live-lab in San Siro, in order to tackle problems more effectively and to promote the development of tools for change, in collaboration with the local community. Since then, the multidisciplinary research team have collected quantitative data, lives stories, interviews, etc., combining quantitative and qualitative sources, with the aim of giving voice to local people and critically interpret facts and dynamics occurring in San Siro, contrasting its stereotyped public representations.

On one hand, the purpose of this operation is to create a ‘multiple-sources’ observatory on processes taking place in San Siro, referring to three main topics (housing, public spaces/common spaces – courtyards, non-residential empty spaces). On the other hand, the goal is to enhance concrete projects and activities co-designed with local actors (formal or not) and inhabitants. In particular, the Lab aims at promoting local competences in developing regeneration projects: local people are considered as experts of the living conditions within the neighbourhood, producing shared mapping processes and participated consultations and in some cases are even involved in the actual in some cases involving them in the actual design of projects. The Lab also aims at promoting dialogue and confrontation between the local level and the institutional level.

In 2014, an office located in the neighbourhood was assigned to Mapping San Siro by Aler – the public regional agency that owns and manages the neighbourhood. The office, located at the street level and called “Trentametriquadri” (30 square meters) is a place for working, meeting and promoting initiatives open to the inhabitants, local partner and the city. This experience is included in the experimental initiative “Teaching in-the-field” developed in the wide framework of Polisocial, the first public engagement program with an academic nature in the Italian context. This teaching program aims at involve and engage students, teachers and academic staff in real situations, putting them in very close contact with social actors and concrete problems.

Clients / Local Partners:

DAR-CASA Società Cooperativa – Social cooperative for social housing
Laboratorio di Quartiere San Siro – Neighbourhood’s Lab
Progetto di Coesione Sociale PORTO – Porto, Project for social cohesion promoted by Tuttinsieme social cooperative
Commissione Intercultura Scuola Elementare “L. Cadorna” – Intercultural Commission of the primary school “L. Cadorna”
Associazione Mamme a Scuola – Association of immigrants women, Associazione
TuttiMondi -Tuttimondi, Association providing services for immigrants and children
Associazione Vivere San Siro – Association of inhabitants
Associazione Alfabeti – Association for italian language courses for foreigners
Comitato Abitanti San Siro – local comitee of inhabitants
Circolo PD “Pio La Torre” – Democratic Party, Cooperativa Sociale
Tuttinsieme – Social Cooperative for young distress
Gruppo Salam – group of arabic women

Coordinator: Francesca Cognetti (Researcher-Assistant Professor Politecnico di Milano – DAStU, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies)

Supervisor: Liliana Padovani (IUAV – University of Venice)

Luca Brivio – architect (Politecnico di Milano), Ida Castelnuovo – PhD and project manager of Polisocial (Fondazione Politecnico di Milano), Maurizio Chemini – architect (Politecnico di Milano), Elena Donaggio – architect and researcher (IRS Social Research Institute), Cassandra Fontana – urban planner, Beatrice Galimberti – architect and member of Architetti Senza Frontiere (ASF), Jacopo Lareno Faccini – urban planner member of Dynamoscopio Cultural Association, Elena Maranghi – PhD and researcher (“La Sapienza” University of Rome), Giada Mascherin – studentUrban Planning and Policy Design (Politecnico di Milano), Matteo Motti – PhD candidate (Politecnico di Milano), Gianfranco Orsenigo – architect (gruarchitetti), Alice Ranzini –urban planner and project manager of Polisocial(Fondazione Politecnico di Milano), Stefano Saloriani – student of Urban Planning and Policy Design (Politecnico di Milano), Gabriele Solazzi – PhD (IUAV University of Venice)

Research Question:
The research activity develops on two axis: the first focus on “mapping and new forms of representation of territory” aiming of building a new image of the neighbourhood more complex and articulated; the second is “developing scenarios” of future transformation of San Siro that could stimulate the action and a different perception of the local actors that work nowadays in San Siro. Therefore the action-research activities have been focused on three main issues: living conditions and home; ground floor as common space; inactive and vacant spaces. We understood that often there is a lack of information that impedes facing problems, changing situations, and make understandable dynamics, because of diffuse difficulty of interact with local institutions and have access to information. Starting from this idea, we decided to build a shared knowledge for San Siro conceived as a knowledge useful to tackle problems but also as a tool for change. The team collected data, stories, interviews, etc with the aim to keep interpreting and giving voice to people, facts, dynamics occurring in San Siro but also to build new representations of it. The purpose of this operation is to create a ‘multiple sources’ observatory on processes taking place in San Siro, referring to the three main topics. On the other hand we want to act on concrete projects and activities co-designed with the local actors (formal or not) and inhabitants. In particular the Lab aims to use the exchange experience with local community to develop projects, in some cases involving actual design, in others, design of urban master-plans, in others, consultation exercises.

From this project, the University is developing a new way of expressing its scientific and cultural role. It opens its borders to the city, establishing itself as a resource for public use, also by animating large public debates on urban marginal issues. On the other hand, elaborations developed in the Lab are a concrete support for the community activation, helping them imagine the future of their living environment or can provide the social operators with a better awareness of living conditions, in particular about people who, so far, haven’t been able to get the attention required.


+, 11-50, Analytical, Collaboration, Curricular, Days, Foundation, Initiated by institution, Italy, Milan Polytechnic Univ., Planning, Postgraduate, Propositional, Self-funded, Sponsorship, Students with tutor, Temporary, Undergraduate, Urban Design