Carlo Ratti Associati Reveals New Vision Plan for Lugano’s Waterfront

Designed by CRA- Carlo Ratti Associati and MIC-Mobility in Chain, the proposed plan for the Swiss city Lugano creates a network of public spaces, that connects the town to the lake. The project puts in place a floating garden and a reconfigurable waterfront.

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Courtesy of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

Imagined by international design and innovation office CRA- Carlo Ratti Associati, in partnership with Mobility in Chain (MIC), a transport-planning firm based in Milan, Moscow and New York, the proposal for Lugano’s Waterfront aims to increase the number of connections between the city and the lake. Introducing innovative solutions, the designers created a series of public interventions like a “floating garden island, a new water navigation system and reconfigurable roads capable of responding to people in real-time”, to restore the main traffic artery cutting through Lugano’s shore, and to reconnect the city and its lake.

Lugano is committed in redesigning the front lake and the city center for the future citizens, focusing on a growing attention to dynamic public spaces, the coexistence of different mobility vectors, the development of green areas, the role of the water in city life, the impact of the landscape, and much more. […] The path began in 2018, when the Municipality went public with its vision and objectives, identifying innovation as one of the key points for urban development. The next step will hopefully be an open competition to create a new master plan for the city of tomorrow. Our wish is that the vision could soon take the form of a realized project. -- Marco Borradori, Mayor of Lugano 

Courtesy of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

The vision plan for Lugano, drawing on research by the MIT Senseable City Lab, envisions a partly pedestrianized waterfront, with a dynamic road system, and shared surfaces with playgrounds and social gathering spaces. Moreover, the project integrates electric autonomous vehicles and micro-mobility solutions. Imagined as a future and smart intervention, the proposal also includes “smart signage, responsive street furniture, infrastructure that produces clean energy from heat absorption, and a series of mobility hubs where people can select their preferred, shared mode of transport”.

Lugano’s distinctive waterfront, nestled between the Swiss Alps and the glacial lake, is an opportunity to create a responsive edge for the city, experimenting with novel ways of blending nature and urban space. -- Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Courtesy of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

With a historic lakefront designed by Pasquale Lucchini in 1863, the project will enhance the value of the waterfront through this planned transition zone. In fact, the plan allows “the town to stretch out onto the lake thanks to a newly created floating island accessible to the public”, connected to the city by a series of boardwalks. This space will also include public spaces, and a “garden to preserve the biodiversity of Lake Lugano”.

By analyzing mobile and traffic data and backing up the mobility concept’s definition with a model-based scientific approach, we supported CRA’s urban vision of transforming the fracture of today’s Lakefront vehicular axis into a responsive space, hosting new mobility solutions and enabling the waterfront to adjust dynamically to the vibrant ecosystem of Lugano. -- Federico Parolotto, Senior Partner at MIC.

Courtesy of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

  • A project by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati with MIC-Mobility in Chain
  • Creative Consultant: Italo Rota
  • CRA Team: Carlo Ratti, Andrea Cassi (project manager), Alberto Benetti, Chiara Borghi, Mario Daudo, Serena Giardina, Nicola Scaramuzza, Federico Riches, Galla Vallée
  • CRA Graphic team: Pasquale Milieri, Gary di Silvio, Gianluca Zimbardi
  • MIC Team: Federico Parolotto (project supervisor), Francesca Arcuri (project manager), Lucia Bocchimuzzi, Loris Sciacchitano (planners and data analyst), Federico Cicu, Anna Vnukovskaya (transport modeling)
  • With the collaboration of TIRESIA, the International Research Center of Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Carlo Ratti Associati Reveals New Vision Plan for Lugano’s Waterfront" 17 Jan 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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