Systematica has just released a case study on access to green areas and the public realm in the city of Milan. Focusing on the availability of these gathering spaces for residents, the research, particularly relevant in this time of the pandemic, also highlights open and not crowded public spaces, convenient for a safe social life.
With more than 30 years of experience in the field of transport planning and mobility engineer, Systematica is investigating the future of Milan and cities worldwide. TransformTransport, Systematica’s research unit focused on innovative mobility solutions, explores how technology can have a positive impact on our cities, neighborhoods, and buildings. As the community is rediscovering the importance of access to open-air gathering spaces and realize the lack of easily accessible public spaces on foot from home, the “access to green areas and public realm” initiative is extremely relevant nowadays.
With half of the population in Milan living with minimal accessible recreational space, people are moving out of the city to seek green non-crowded outdoors. In fact, through a comprehensive survey of Milan’s public space, Systematica confirmed that “the distribution of green areas and public spaces is not homogeneous at all and more than half of Milan's population lives in areas where recreational areas are scarce”. The research underlines the need to “increase or regulate public realm access in most critical areas”, in line with Milan’s ambitious Open Street Plan. Read on for the full list of discoveries and check their website for more information.
Public realm survey
Data collected from official sources and platforms are integrated with ad-hoc research to create an atlas of the main categories of public spaces such as parks, gardens, dog areas, oratories, plazas, and pedestrian areas. The overall extent of Milan’s public realm reaches 21.000.000 sqm. Parks and gardens are predominant, occupying 11% of the municipal area.
Accessibility to gathering areas
The isochronal analysis allows identifying urban areas whose residents live less than 15 minutes away on foot from a specific point. This reading of the city brings out the number of inhabitants able to reach a recreational area in less than 15 minutes and the urban areas least served. Investigations show that the distribution of medium and large public parks leaves some areas of the city uncovered.
The analytical process starts with the public space provision within 15 minutes from each census cell. The methodology allows us to obtain a synthesized reading of the municipal area that compares the population density with the availability of recreational areas within 15 minutes from each census cell. The chromatic scale identifies the total amount of recreational areas available to each resident within 15 minutes. More critical zones are located in proximity to the external ring-road, with episodic extensions along the north-east, south-east and west axial roads.
Parks play the greatest role among all urban recreational areas. Based on their size and proximity to residential areas, a map of crowding risk is produced. The exercise is carried out considering the area provision per resident within 15 minutes from each park. Green areas providing less than 2 sqm per resident are considered potentially affected by crowding risk.
Seeking an equilibrium
The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has placed the provision of public spaces in urban areas at the center of the global debate. In Milan, as in many other metropolitan areas, informal uses of public spaces have been reported. A careful reading of these habits cannot fail to consider them as a silent expression of the time-tested needs of the community.
The analytical process leads to the identification of some urban areas with less widespread and less extensive availability of public spaces in relation to the residing population. The map groups these areas into 8 main zones affecting 25 Milanese neighborhoods. For each of them, an increase in public areas is suggested based on the intermediate urban provision. The increase reflects the possibility of citizens to have a total amount of 1,000 sqm of public space within 15 minutes from their residence. This value would bring the areas concerned closer to the public space provision level currently present in the southern area of the city (Porta Lodovica, Porta Ticinese, Porta Vigentina).
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