WHY: The vitality of diversity.
A particular response to an international problem.
Since Prato is one of the Italian cities with the highest immigrant rate in proportion to the number of its inhabitants, the key question for the park’s development quickly emerges: what should the appropriate approach be in order to create a public space in which ethnic diversity can coexist?
This question concerns not only the competition for this park, Prato or Italy, but the whole of Europe. It is not by chance that the central theme Italy has proposed for the meeting of G-7 scheduled for May 2017, is the relationship between politics, cities and quality of life. Faced with the challenge of immigration, Italy asks itself whether it is possible that its cities reply to the international migration phenomenon with the archetype of the square and not with that of the wall.
The new park for Prato is designed by choosing these two elements as starting points: the wall and the void. Therefore, what should be the appropriate strategy to ensure that this project will become a paradigm and example of inclusion? A way to ensure that the mobility of people constitutes an opportunity and not a threat to the vitality and quality of life.
WHAT: Play, food, worship: the diversity program.
Public space as a place of integration through cultural expression.
The spontaneous way in which the city reflects more clearly the ethnic richness of its population is trade. Our proposal involves three fundamental dimensions of collective life for social identity and therefore for coexistence.
Play: every culture has its favorite sport, the most popular one, and every sport needs a specific field. If people spend time in public space to unwind and meet, then sport is the activity that most naturally combines these two dimensions. Our proposal is to create a large open space that can accommodate all sports relevant to different cultures.
Food: another essential cultural expression is food. The richness this event can reach starts with the variety of raw materials. A trend that is gradually acquiring more strength is to use parks not only as a product but as a productive urban public spaces. This may be because parks are the only remnant of nature in the city, but also because the active connection of neighbors to the park increases the sense of ownership among the public space and community. A space that is grown (and not only visited) has a greater capacity to produce shared value.
Worship: perhaps the expression that more than others is vital in a population is its own belief. Architecture has historically been able to translate this dimension in buildings, temples and churches. Our proposal is to introduce a more archaic version of the worship space in the park: the first manifestation of the culture of nature, through the most basic synthesis.
HOW: express value with what apparently has none.
To build with the memory of the place.
Towns have been filled with buildings over time. And now, urban voids are gaining more and more value. Will this urban void appear only after the demolition of the old hospital. Who would say that the destruction of something could create added value? Our proposed public space conveys the message that this acquiring of public value can be achieved by means that usually are considered worthless: discard, waste, detritus. This not only makes sense from an environmental perspective, but also from a symbolic point of view, too many times value has been taken away from what apparently has none, people and communities included.