Milan - Detroit: Multifaceted Issues for the Contemporary Metropolis | The Plan
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Milan - Detroit: Multifaceted Issues for the Contemporary Metropolis

Milan - Detroit: Multifaceted Issues for the Contemporary Metropolis
By Maurizio Sabini -

Two cities and two themes: voids and density. In one city, voids have been expressly created, in the other the voids are the result of decline. In one, voids are defined by the surrounding density, in the other the empty spaces neither define nor are defined. Milan and Detroit have very little in common. Indeed they seem opposites, like positive and negative images of the same picture. The voids in Detroit amount to some 60% of Milan’s surface area. On the one hand there is Milan with its Urban Development Plan, on the other, a social phenomenon. A new city is being planned for Milan with new building typologies that don’t require further land consumption; in Detroit, attempts - including urban agriculture projects - are being made to stem an exodus that has created a void as large as the surface area of San Francisco and twice that of Manhattan. In Milan, they are gearing up for a world expo while in Detroit the focus is on redefining the urban experience in a hollowed out city. Yet the two metropolises have features in common. Both have a history of industrial production and innovation and as economic capitals, which although a thing of the past for Detroit, nonetheless remains very much part of the collective psyche and a source of a singular civic pride. Both are strategically located within their respective wider regions. Both were nurtured on the common ethos of being the production powerhouses of their respective countries. And even today, despite their divergent situations, this keeps alive the sense of being a great city, almost with a mission to portray a way of life. Milan and Detroit are at extremes. Yet between them spans a range of important questions that impact all contemporary metropolises: what are the mechanisms that create virtuous cycles linking civil mobilisation, urban design and city management; how to combine appropriation and spontaneous regeneration of new urban landscapes with guided urban planning and architecture; how to include the...

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