The 15-minute city is a concept developed by Carlos Moreno, scientific director of the Entrepreneurship, Territory, Innovation program at the Sorbonne in Paris. So, what do this theoretical city and Milan have in common? Everything, because of all the cities in the world, Milan is among the best placed to experiment with new ideas. But also nothing, since its urban layout is lightyears away from that of rival cities Paris and Barcelona, which, for some years, have been focusing on the so-called archipelago city – a close relative of the 15-minute concept.
The idea of the 15-minute city isn’t entirely new. Since home working has become the norm for millions of people, however, the idea is again in the spotlight. The 15-minute city is an innovative model for urban development that incorporates the need for cities to be on a human scale with the needs of the smart cities of the future. The concept centers around every citizen having all the services they need within a 15-minute walk or bike ride.
It’s an idea that could revolutionize the makeup of Italian cities, making each person’s neighborhood the epicenter of their daily life. This is a paradigm shift that would promote the decentralization of the whole gamut of functions provided by cities, spreading them uniformly over the entire urban area. It would likewise encourage a return to a lifestyle that’s more community based and sustainable. And simply more convenient.
“A new approach to urban planning must be at the heart of our roadmap for the years to come,” says Moreno. “We need to be creative and imagine, propose, and build new rhythms of life, other ways of occupying the urban space so as to transform the way we use it to access essential social functions.”
Moreno asks us to imagine a polycentric city, where, partly through digital technology, citizens have important services within easy reach. Paris was the first to pioneer the idea, but Barcelona, London, and Portland have also been implementing policies based around the concept for a number of years. The arrival of the pandemic and lockdown was a gamechanger, though, with a spontaneous turnaround in how we live and navigate our cities. Proximity became the norm for millions of people.
The pandemic has forced Milan, like all big cities, to reevaluate its future. In the runup to the election, Mayor Sala is championing models for the Lombard capital based around the 15-minute idea. International examples report an unprecedented intermingling of established ideas about the urban and rural environments, but Milan intends to be original. The polycentric development of the city would make it possible to move beyond the division between downtown and suburbia to produce a greater intrinsic balance among all the different neighborhoods. A shift like this would involve numerous sectors, from transport to the services sector and public works. It would be a true revolution that could open a new period of opportunity for Milan and its citizens.
Carlos Moreno’s concept and its increasingly widespread application endorse a trend reflected in many of the projects we look at on this site.
To give you an idea of what’s happening in our cities, we’ve selected a series of articles that will make you want your 15 minutes of urban life, too!
In the last 20 years, COIMA - the leading independent company in the asset management of real estate investment funds on behalf of institutional investors in Italy - has been a key figure in the urban requalification plan of Milan. Piazza Gae Aulenti, a project by Pelli Architects and symbol of the Porta Nuova area; BAM – La Biblioteca degli Alberi, a public and innovative park; and the Bosco Verticale tower by Stefano Boeri Architetti, which also became a symbol of the growing attention on the environment, are all paradigms of Milan’s recent investment on the territory and of the importance of Italian architecture within the international panorama.
THE PLAN produced the documentary The Architects Series: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group for the Iris Ceramica Group. The Danish studio opened its doors to us, revealing how some of the most futuristic international architectural projects come into being. In the lecture given by Kai-Uwe Bergmann in Milan, the practice revealed how they see the architecture of the future, including its vision of a supersonic transport system called the Hyperloop, made up of capsules that travel at speeds of up to 620 mph (1000 kmh) (The Architects Series – BIG + Small Kai-Uwe Bergmann [Lecture] – min 24)
The creativity of UNStudio’s design for the new subway system in Doha, Qatar, takes a step beyond reality in its vision for the remaining sections of the network’s four lines. This ambitious and visionary project sets out to revolutionize the way that people move around the city through the construction of four new underground lines and stations. It goes way beyond tweaking the existing system to fully overhauling the city’s entire public transport network.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), studio di progettazione internazionale che annovera tra le sue opere alcuni tra i più avanzati edifici al mondo, inaugura la nuova estensione della famosa stazione ferroviaria Penn Station a New York.
RENAZCA is a private company set up by the corporate owners of the buildings in Madrid’s AZCA financial district to revitalize and improve the public spaces in this sprawling area