On studying the timeline of Piacenza and its modern history, we found that the city was in turmoil in the Second World War due to bombing by the Allied forces. Since the historic city centre was the operational unit for the city, it has many buildings of historical importance. The rich heritage that developed till the 16th century helped shape the city and reinforced it culturally.
Upon data collection and qualitative research through articles, websites, related books and observational exercises carried out in the city of Piacenza, it was understood that the a large part of the demographic of the city is in the ‘creative age’ and involved in occupations related to agriculture, mechanical systems, robotics , engineering, fine arts and the emerging field of fashion. This means that the creative class comprises a large part of the city now and is subject to increase in the coming years. Therefore, it would be the accurate time for the introduction of a creative milieu in this context. To implement the same, case studies were done for Placemaking and Creative Milieux. Some of them are the following:
Tampa Riverwalk, Tampa, Florida: The Riverwalk is now a 2.4 mile linear park that connects seven major waterfront parks and a number of cultural institutions along the Downtown Tampa Waterfront, where the pedestrian and cyclist friendly design provides adequate space for a range of activities. Tampa’s Riverwalk attracts a diverse audience since it incorporates a range of restaurants, cultural institutions, hotels, a convention centre, and even a dog park. There are also several temporary features along the Riverwalk, such as food trucks and public art installations, as well as a range of unique features, such as the restoration of Ulele (a natural spring), night-time entertainment like concerts and live screenings, and a splash fountain for children.
Malecon, Havana, Cuba : Officially known as Avenida de Maceo, Malecón is an eight-kilometer esplanade, roadway, and seawall that runs from Old Havana to the burgeoning residential district of Vedado. With cold beer and snacks available on the Malecón, it is a favorite spot for locals and tourists to socialize and relax. At night the Malecón becomes a popular destination for those wishing to stroll along the promenade, enjoying the sea breeze while being softly serenaded by Cuban musicians.
Livable Laneways Project, Vancouver, British Columbia: It aims to transform overlooked alleys or “laneways” into vibrant outdoor gathering spaces with a stimulating mix of interventions. Calgary’s project, for instance, in providing a toolkit for grassroots innovators, recommends quality lighting, clustered parking at the ends to free up interior space for pedestrian activities, permeable laneway surfaces, small business creation through underutilized garage space (such as convenience stores and artist spaces), edible landscaping like fruit trees and berry bushes, and laneway housing.
“Creativity is context driven. What is creative in one circumstance may not be in another. Whereas in the past we might have needed to harness engineering and related inventiveness to solve urban infrastructure problems or public health, today the needs are different.” (Landry, 2008) It is important to remember that creativity is subjective. In an urban context, as said by Charles Landry, “Redefining a problem can reveal its potential for innovative action. Seeing waste as a resource rather than a liability opens endless possibilities.” This research therefore, led us to select an abandoned site for the creation of our creative milieu.
Post defining the objectives of the project, an analysis of the site was done to find out what cluster choice would be best suited for the city of Piacenza. The results showed us that the ‘Events Cluster’ would be able to cater to the small as well as large-scale events in the city of Piacenza, as there are not many flexible spaces in the city. This would also integrate the abandoned river into the city and help create an identity.1.1 SWOT ANALYSIS 1.1.1 Strengths· Presence of serene riverfront· Well-maintained area· Reduced noise levels· Existing water sports· Large open space· Availability for parking 1.1.2 Weaknesses· Slightly far from the city center· Not sufficient street furniture· No public facilities or amenities· No signage or guidance for the visitor1.1.3 Opportunities· Scope for waterfront development· Scope for expansion of existing jetty· Availability of space to host large scale events· Being on the periphery of Piacenza, it will attract public fromnearby towns· Site has potential to attract the creative class· Lack of provision of shelter increases scope for design1.1.4 Threats· Lack of public maintenance could ruin the aesthetic value of theriverside· Distance could be a problem for those without appropriatetransportation· No security system provided could keep families away· Lack of protection during the harsh season might keep people away· Based on the preliminary analysis, it is clear that the site holds potential for a creative milieu.The result of the SWOT analysis reveals that-
Piacenza has high potential to be a creative milieu to attract creative class from Piacenza as well as from the surrounding cities since River Po is in a strategic location.
The site is large enough to accommodate large scale events that can take place indoors as well as outdoors.
The site presents a peaceful ambience by the riverfront which is a key point for attracting the creative class.
1.2 MAJOR APPROACHES 1.2.1 Infrastructure implementation and development (Hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, urban acupuncture and tactical urbanism (Borrup, n.d.) (Kageyama, 2009) (Pumhiran, 2005) (Anon., 1975) (Landry, 2005) (Florida, 2003) (Pratt, 2011) (Kostopoulou, 2013) (Pedigo, n.d.) (Markusen, 2006)) For the implementation of a creative milieu, interventions have to be made on the selected site in order to build spaces, interior and exterior, that can be multifunctional and can be used for recreation and activities that aim at involving the community as a whole. Doing so will make the city a creative centre by itself. “The creative centres tend to become economic winners of our age. Not only do they have high concentrations of creative class people, they have high concentrations of creative economic outcomes, in the form of industries and high- tech industry growth. They also show strong signs of overall regional vitality such as increases in regional employment and population.” (Florida, 2003) 1.2.2 Placemaking to strengthen the arts and cultural fabric to attract the creative class “Creative people are not moving to these places for traditional reasons. The physical attractions that most cities focus on- sports stadiums, freeways, urban malls and tourism-and-entertainment districts that resemble theme parks- are irrelevant, insufficient and actually unattractive to many creative class people. What they look for in communities are abundant high quality experiences, an openness to diversities of all kinds, and, above all else, the opportunity to validate their identities as creative people.” (Florida, 2003)
This makes it very clear to us what creative people expect from a creative society. It is important to make places interesting by virtue of what is existing and to reinvent public spaces, to strengthen the connection between people.