November, 1, 2, 2016 International Symposium, Keynote Speech of The Symposium
Strategic master-planning towards the sustainable campus :
The interface between physical space and sustainability principles
Hallo everybody, thanks a lot to Hokkaido university for inviting me, especially to office for a Sustainable Campus, Prof. Ozasa and Dr. Ikegami. I’m honored but it’s a big responsibility being here to discuss our common projects and challenges. I hope also collaboration between our universities, Politecnico and Hokkaido University will continue. We had a lot of exchanges on sustainability on campus, so it’s already a great friendship going on I think.
This is the title of my presentation “Strategic master-planning towards the sustainable campus: The interface between physical space and sustainability principles.”
First of all, I introduce myself. I’m Eugenio Morello, an architect and urban designer. I’m working at the urban simulation laboratory. It serves as a facility at the department of architecture and urban studies. I’m also working for the sustainbale campus initiative of our university which is called Citta Studi Campus Sostenibile. Our urban simulation laboratory is a research facility. It’s a small office. It’s really a workshop at the department founded in 2007 by Prof. Curti, and Bosselmann from UC Berkeley who spent one year with us. The main research topics are urban design modeling and simulation. We try always to use an interdisciplinary approach where we work both on perceptual or virtual aspects of simulation, and also environmental and energy issues of simulation.
We work in the context of new challenges about city and its complexity. We try to understand the implication of design with the physical context of cities which is complex, and also to control the outcomes of design through simulation. At laboratory we work both with physical model of architecture and planning, real but also virtual, especially digital and visual models.
I had here a video simulation as an example. It’s actually a bit older than 2008, but we try to simulate in a real video context with the digital model of new construction of new skyscrapers in Milano to show the visual impact of new buildings before construction. Another example is more traditional energy mapping. We call it solar cadaster. This is a solar irradiation map of the city and the entire state of Geneva that I developed with Swiss colleagues.
Now about the urban simulation laboratory, I come to the sustainable campus initiative at Politecnico because its six years experience that started with the new Rector, and it aims to promote sustainability on campus. The presentation will work on the challenges. What does it mean to promote strategic planning for sustainability in a consolidated campus with little budget? Then, I’m going to talk about future challenges.
This is an image of the digital model of our campus, the sustainable initiative is shared between Politecnico di Milano and State University of Milano which are neighbors. Our campus is not as big as your campus, it’s smaller and now very urban, inside the city of Milan. It’s a small citadel basically composed by four blocks. And Politecnico and the state university share more or less the same amount of space and number of students. On this campus which is main for Politecnico, we have about 17,000 students enrolled and 1700 staff members. It’s a very dense campus and the challenge is what it means to work on a master plan for a place that is already built consolidated. Buildings are there. What does it mean to do design? The idea for us was to work on a strategic plan that mostly tries to reconnect open spaces, and public spaces, while to bring more permeable idea of campus. I think it’s similar to what you’re trying to do here. The idea is to make the campus more permeable also for local community. The other idea is that we work on small and diffused measures on campus every year. We try to implement small measures and actions all over the campus to improve sustainability rather than build new buildings.
Okay, we also achieved some new designs. One of these is the square Piazza Leonardo da Vinci. This example gives back also our idea of a master plan which is a process rather than a project. It was redesigned together with local community. In 2012, the square was a big parking lot, and we started a process together with the community to give it back to people. In 2013, we closed it to cars. There was a big debate between positions, and we tried to give it back to people organizing arts, sports, and cultural events in general. This was supposed to be a temporary solution, a test to see if the square was working well again. In the meantime, we used the simulation to develop a sort of dashboard and an interface where we can test different redesign for the square. It was still in bad conditions, but we used this for, in public processes, to test different solutions.
And finally we came to redesign the square. This was developed by a colleague of mine with new pavement of higher quality. It was reopened in the spring of 2016. Now it’s a quite successful space for different events, official but also informal like internet based event which is called the White Dinner that was spontaneously organized. This was a result of collaboration of Politecnico with local community where the university paid for the intervention, but we signed a collaboration agreement so that we can make events on this public square.
Another example of redesign of open space in Bonardi campus which is another part of the campus, and again, it was a parking lot. It was closed this year, and Renzo Piano provide the project for us. This place has some interesting modern architecture from the 60s but the quality of open space was very neglected. So our graduate student Renzo Plano was delivering for free design project. The idea is mostly to plant trees and give back a new open space for students to enjoy the campus and to increase also permeability between buildings. Another example of physical transformation on campus is via university walk Celoria. It’s the main road crossing the campus. In this redesign in progress, our laboratory was really responsible in coordinating. We use some of our simulation tools like the physical model you see here, immersive digital visual simulation with head-mounted display for people at the public event. Taking longer process, we ask community to give us feedback before designing anything.
What is the role and importance of university campuses actually? Milan actually has a bigger tradition because it’s a university city, so, campus plays a big role in the city.
Universities are the main activators of urban transformations and regeneration most of the time. They are one of the biggest urban players with impact on society. Of course, when you start a campus, you attract a high number of students, with new business created on site. Housing and services and of course, it can also generate urban vitality services, safety. Of course, universities attract young people. It could be the perfect tester for urban sustainability models because young people have new life styles. They are more sustainable. They are willing to experiment sharing economy and sharing society principles and more sustainable life styles.
Milan has experienced a large number of urban renovation in the last 20-30 years. I will show you some examples. One of the examples of this new campuses and university districts is Bicocca master plan for Bicocca University which is a state public university. The design is dated 1989. The ownership of the land was Pirelli industry, who was here originally. So it was mostly a real estate operation where university was one of the components of this district. Besides university, we have housing and mixed used offices, a lot of services and headquarters. Also Bicocca University is a member of the ISCN, International Sustainable Campus Network, and they’re also implanting a sustainability campus strategy. As you see, it’s a very dense urban district with not so much green areas as well. But the place is highly accessible because it has train and subway stat ions.
Another example which has a very long history is the Bovisa campus which is the second largest campus of Politectnico. Yes, it’s mostly open spaces. It was the former Gasometro. In the southern part, we have most of the engineering departments and on the right side, industrial design. And it’s called the drop because of its shape. It’s the railway structure. Many master plans were done on this area. The last big one attempt was by a leading real estate developer, OMA architects. This was before the financial crisis and since the terrain ground was found polluted, it needs reclamation. It was a very expensive and risky business so the project had stopped. It started again from scratch, and this is another our attempt in charge. We changed the modality, and we started participatory inclusive activity listening to people and community needs, wishes, and challenges first before doing any master plan. Finally this year, Politecnico launched a new call for ideas to our professors and community members, and develop ten ideas to be delivered to the city. Let’s see if the new mayor of Milan and the city administration will move on with this process.
We have another major university constructing a brand new campus, a private school of economics, Bocconi University. We have also some Japanese connections because the plan was developed by SANAA, Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates. It’s a very innovative idea of campus. It’s actually an extension of the existing campus of Bocconi. This is supposed to be in agreement with the city, a very permeable and open spaces are open to community.
The very big challenge now is reinventing the site of the universal expo 2015 in the north of Milano after the exposition. The idea of launching a new technopole which is called Human technopole was initiated by the government. So, this human technopole is supposed to be an integrated park with industry and research on human and life science, regarding health, wellbeing, and pharmacy and medicine. So the idea is now that the state university are moving the scientific faculties and departments to this area. Kengo Kuma is to provide masterplan that you see here. Here is some first suggestions about the buildings that Kengo Kuma is envisioning, with strong presence of water and green inside of the campus. Though it’s an hypothesis, if the state university moves to the expo site, then we’re going to have new challenges on our university district Citta Studi. It might be an opportunity but it’s also a big risk to leave this site.
Our department is in charge by the city of Milan to try to envision new scenarios for a new master plan of the university district. First of all, the question for a master plan with scenarios of high uncertainty of transformation is not an easy challenge. We don’t know who and when the new stakeholders will occupy the site. The initial idea for our study will be to include time and uncertainty in the master planning as elements of design. We’re going to listen and work with the local community as we did for Bovisa area first. We are also going to follow the process of engagement of potential actors to reoccupy the old state university. We also have to design or imagine new temporary and small scale actions/actors to be installed on site． We will also support the city to work on the requalification of the retro fitting of public space while buildings get reoccupied, reinhabited. It means that if like buildings are abandoned in the meantime you have to make sure that the public space is used and doesn’t lose attraction. It will be a long term construction site and this means that the master plan has to deal with this reoccupation agenda without generating conflicts.
I conclude my talk with new topics that I think it has to be or could be included in sustainability master planning on campuses. According to our experience and future urgent challenges, the questions are which directions to follow if a master planner will have to change his design tool kit and skills in order to include sustainability issues and principles. First of all we’re all familiar with campus assessment and measurement and how difficult it is to compare different experiences of campuses. Campuses are located in different places within or outside cities, so it’s very difficult to give general universal rules.
We start from the idea that the form of the campus matters, morphology matters. We can distinguish many typologies of campus shapes-intra-urban, diffused, citadels, urban campus, urban oasis, peri-urban, and rural campuses. Here are some examples of an abacus that a student Gizem Karabay developed in her thesis and showed different campus models. We also have a Euro campus, so the idea is trying to compare different shapes and to understand if these shapes tell something about different sustainability challenges and possibilities. Here you can compare the size of campuses. The first one on top left is Hokkaido University and our campus is the third here. It’s much small with less green area, you see it’s a baby.
We have different typologies in the campuses. Urban, rurban with the peri-urban areas between urban and rural campuses outside, rural, and what we call urban oasis like your campus which has big green area inside the city.
Beside campus shape, I want to bring the evolution of campus sustainability topics. Let’s say this is a timeline from yesterday to tomorrow to understand that when we talk about campus sustainability and planning. We have to include more and more new topic that emerge over time. If the experience of campus started with energy management mobility and waste was the main topics, other topics emerges over time. The metrics of sustainability targeting CO2, community planning became important, then food, wellbeing, health, then finally new interesting topics like climate change, climate adaptation, and co-creations inside universities became more and more important.
A master plan today has to include or try to include most of these, and try to find his own geography and priorities among these topics. Based on this idea, I conclude my presentation with seven points to be integrated in a smart sustainable master plan of campuses. These are based on my personal experience, but also in future ‒ recent directions of design and sustainability.
(1) We all agree that the master plan is not to be intended as a project, but rather a long-term process that should be envisioned like an ecosystem that can adapt and learn over time. It is very important to allow this master plan to evolve, change to become more resilient. Another important point is that university master plan should also plan for the monitoring systems in order to assess the progress of sustainability. Why don’t we look at Hong Kong University installing devices to measure physical environmental progresses?
(2) An inclusive process. We all agree that listening and involving communities is a prerequisite of sustainability. Without, we cannot be sustainable. For example, we launched a series of tables what’s internal and external to the community to discuss thematic priorities. We also use the design contest as a tool. We are open to students to contribute to redesigning of spaces.
(3) A recent challenge that I am involved in is about understanding the role that sharing economy and sharing society are playing toward sustainability. People and students are using more and more smart devices to improve their lifestyle and to save money, but also to help the environment. This is a future challenge for campus master planning. This is an example of diffusing sensors in waste that we experimented at the Politecnico to weigh when the garbage bin is full to help better managing the environment and also to imagine new services for the community. Sharing is also sharing of space, inventing new ways of occupying and booking space. Instead of parking space, we can envision other uses.
(4) Design for diversity. We learnt from biodiversity. Mixed populations and mixing type of environment are important because environment becomes more resilient. This environment, campus should reach in this sense of diversity. Mixing having a campus that works 24 hours, having housing of students and citizens closed by, for instance.
(5) Design having in mind people’s lifestyle. When we have a new master plan, we should also start understanding how people behave and move in space because design and physical presence of space impact on mobility, health, wellbeing, workability, and also food policies. We started implementing a farmer market on the square in order to enable students to have better quality of food. We have a bike repair office managed by students. The community garden and supporting sport facilities on the square are open to citizens.
(6) Design having in mind flows. This refers to urban metabolism of campuses. I think this is a very recent challenge to start understanding the flows, inputs and outputs of systems. How to translate these to design is a big question. For example, we can reduce the flow of food and waste cycles by providing local food in campus. This building is called zero energy buildings to reduce the energy cycle on campus.
(7) We can envision new models for higher education. When we do our master plan nowadays, we also have to think about the future of higher education learning. How will it change and how is the space design of teaching in the twenty first century changing? This offers new challenges. We have to provide flexible spaces for design.
Thank you very much for your attention also for listening. Thank you for your question. I got very meaningful knowledge.