Milan’s urban fabric has long been defined by change. In a city known for its historic monuments, from the Piazza Duomo and Milan Cathedral to works like Velasca Tower, contemporary architecture must balance many existing contexts. Emerging as a global center for design and culture, Milan has become home to new buildings and structures addressing this condition as iconic landmarks and expressive forms. Actively building upon its legacy, Milan has turned its attention to the sky.
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping through the world's urban centers, governments worldwide are urging citizens to hunker down at home in a bid to quell the virus' spread. For apartment dwellers under quarantine, balconies have become the new platforms for entertainment and social interaction, making now an opportune moment in rethinking how we design and build these outdoor urban spaces.
Until the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis was perhaps the fundamental design problem of our Anthropocene era. The threat of climate change has forced us as designers to reevaluate how we realize designs at all scales. Eco-friendly interior finishes, net-zero energy skyscrapers, and strategies to prevent the rising sea levels from pushing residents in coastal cities more inland are just some of the innovative solutions that have come from the increased urgency to mitigate the effects of the climate on our world.
Following natural disaster or conflict, architecture plays a critical role in not only reconstructing lost infrastructure but also responding to the need for comfort and safety for those affected. Successful post-disaster architecture must meet both the short-term need for immediate shelter, as well as long-term needs for reconstruction and stability. Eight years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, those displaced continue to reside in temporary shelters without adequate access to plumbing and electricity, revealing the critical importance of addressing long-term needs after disaster and conflict.
Below, we've rounded up 10 impressive examples of post-disaster architecture that range from low-cost, short-term proposals to those that attempt to rebuild entire communities from the ground up:
A “Christmas Tale of a Post-Quake Reconstruction”: Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Community Rebuilding in Amatrice
In August 2016, a powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy, resulting in the loss of nearly 300 lives and the destruction of centuries-worth of historic architecture. At the center of the destruction was Amatrice, a beautiful hill town set in the Latium Apennines, which was reduced to mere rubble, leaving hundreds dead or injured and the survivors homeless.
But the community could not be held down. Shortly after the disaster, rebuilding efforts began, with the assistance of some of Italy’s top architects, including Renzo Piano and Stefano Boeri Architetti, who were able to construct a brand new canteen in just a few weeks time.
Are tree covered buildings really in tune with ecological and sustainable principles, or are they just a form of greenwashing? This is the question posed by Kurt Kohlstedt in his essay, Renderings vs. Reality: The Improbable Rise of Tree-Covered Skyscrapers, for 99% Invisible. The author notes that vegetated designs come about for myriad reasons – the appearance of sustainability, better air and views, investment intrigue – but that most of these concepts will never leave the realm of paper or virtual architecture. For as many reasons that these buildings have become popular, there are detractors for why they simply cannot be built, including daunting construction hurdles (extra concrete and steel), vast irrigation systems, added wind load complexities, and the trees themselves having difficulty adapting to their vertiginous conditions.