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From the Diffused City to Vertical Forests

Stefano Boeri Architetti

From the Diffused City to Vertical Forests
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -

The end of the 1990s was a time of great intellectual restlessness both in Italy and elsewhere, perhaps because the millennium was drawing to a close. The Berlin Wall had been torn down a few years before, ending a world divided into two opposing ideological blocs. Things were being seen without the ideological filter of the past. And it became apparent that the world had changed much more than expected and that these changes had directly impacted our physical world, leading to widespread transformation - especially in Italy.

The enormous success of small and medium-sized businesses was seen to have had a much more decisive impact on the urban fabric than large-scale industry. In fact, although unseen by most, already by the end of the 1970s, what would later be called the “diffused city” was already developing: i.e., a city made up of a medley of scattered economic and commercial clusters formed in proximity to available infrastructure but with total disregard for any land-use masterplan. The diffused city had grown up especially along the Adriatic coast and Po Valley, and was strikingly visible on either side of the A4 highway to the east. The realization that the country had undergone a radical bottom-up change was the result of two events.

The first was a sort of initiatory journey in search of the diffused city taken by a group of architects and urban planners organized by Mirko Zardini and including people who would go on to be the key players of the new generation of Italian architects. The second was the publication in 1994 of the book Il territorio che cambia: ambienti, paesaggi e immagini della regione milanese (“The Changing Landscape: environments, landscape and images of the Milan area”, TN) by Stefano Boeri, Arturo Lanzani and Edoardo Marini. An excellent analysis of this period, which although bursting with ideas saw very little actually realized, the book gives a detailed description of the...

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