Northern Italy suffered one of Europe’s highest Covid-19 death rates, and endured one of the strictest lockdowns with people quarantined for more than 60 days.
For long weeks we have been seeing the unprecedented images of our empty squares, desert cities with no interactions, with a growing fear of being together. Now that the second phases are starting, and the limitation are loosening-up, we are collectively getting back to our routines and we need to learn how to repopulate public spaces in cities while remaining physically distant.
The idea is to create a temporary infrastructure for a new social life, becoming an opportunity to reflect on the use of public spaces during these times, aiming to re-engage all those who have become wary of outdoor spaces.
The project is intended as a temporary solution for a conscious use of public space under International and especially Italy’s current safety measures. The safe distance is used as a design tool to create a safe grid to guide the movement of people in the space. The result is a regular grid that can be potentially developed into pattern or graphics, creating new perspectives and interactions within the existing contexts.
The first application of this strategy has been implemented in Piazza Giotto, Vicchio, a town near Florence. In this context the regular grid of 180 cm (safety distance set by the law in Tuscany) has been developed into a pattern, composed by a gradient of squares of differing dimensions. It is a “safe” canvas for a new beginning. The grid helps citizen to navigate the space, regulate the encounters and organise all the activities in the square. With the relaxation of the restrictions it will also work as a graphical infrastructure to host different activities, from the holy mass, to the gym classes, and open air cinema.
The project doesn’t represent a solution of the problem but it can make social life possible again, and it represents a new beginning for the square fostering a new sense of being together.
Matteo Chelazzi, Federico Cheloni and Giulio Margheri