Florence ULTRA Continue. Urban regenerations and ecological continuity along two landscape systems.

The reading of the urban structure and landscape areas allowed us to understand in depth the relationships between the parts of the city at different scales; of relevance to the project is the porous structure, the connective tissue, which highlighted some critical relationships between the parts, such as the railway barrier, large urban nodes and undeveloped tracks, abandoned architectures.The objective of renovatio urbis is to provide ways of intervention to manage the complexity of the project, through six case studies, three in urban settings, three in natural settings.

– Intelligent site management, through coordination of planning, landscape protection and Unesco area tools.
– Two distinct context-related strategies: acupunctural in urban settings and transcalar for systems in natural settings.
– Urban and landscape structures of Connective Systems become metropolitan thresholds at the edges of the Buffer Zone and link the consolidated historic fabric with the fabric of recent expansions from Careggi to Torregalli and with the riches of the Mensola Valley.
– Use of spatial patterns typical of historic morpho-typology: compact fabric, visual vistas and focal points, inclusive open spaces to improve walkability and sociability indices of neighborhoods.
– Accessible neighborhood polarities and services with integrated and sustainable mobility.
– New cultural product based on spatial, social relations, functional programs to develop a new semantics of public space.

– Increased ecological connectivity, through urban forestation operations contributing to the expansion of existing ecological networks;
– Protection and maintenance of wetlands, riparian strips and existing water bodies;
– Protection and maintenance of forested areas, valuable crops and archaeological sites;
– Reduction of impervious surfaces and increase of connective tissue portions;
– Improving microclimate and reducing heat islands, increasing micro-fauna system, improving walkability indices, accessibility and reducing residual areas;
– Elimination of architectural barriers and securing urban infrastructure and hiking trails;
– Introduction of public urban devices such as toilets, information points, integrated with spaces for listening and community participation;
– Recovery of strategic areas and definition of a system of accessible, identity and interconnected places through operations on the urban fabric;
– Reduction of built-up land, recovery and remediation of sites potentially harmful to humans and the environment.

Through the creation of a dialogue that ensures continuity between past and present, ULTRA is able to mark a concrete transition to a sustainable and efficient future by placing side by side an integrated approach that meets SDG #13 goals with Florence’s strong historical and landscape component and is its only starting point, which is based on education, innovation, and smart use of our precious resources.

Pilot projects represent a chance to take direct, long-term action to combat climate change by working with the resources of places for a future that reduces the risk of environmental disasters while safeguarding the community and the environment. The design of ULTRA is a manifesto for a car-free city and limiting carbon emissions; ULTRA is caring for streams, nature and wildlife, protecting biodiversity and increasing ecological networks; ULTRA is awareness, of the negative aspects related to impermeable soils, building sprowl, and social and economic degradation; ULTRA is a tool, through which to rebuild a dense and rich fabric of 360-degree relationships and achieve global goals, reading diversity as a valuable resource and diverse spatial resources as a complementary wealth.

ULTRA is a suggestion to reread the variable conditions of the urban structure and investigate the connection mechanisms of architecture in the relationship of juxtaposition with the existing fabric, acting at the intermediate scale of the urban project.
It accommodates the ongoing transformations of the Florentine metropolitan area and coordinates with the tools, through the involvement of agencies and administrations.
A coordinated and participatory process would make the implementation process smooth, achieving the goals of the strategic vision (PSM2030, UNESCO Buffer Zone Management Plan). Expanding research and employing specific figures and state-of-the-art tools for project management and evaluation would be useful.
This approach prefers the public dimension to the private sphere and teaches the community to care again for a city rich in quiet resources, becoming an active participant for an ultra-competitive and accessible Florence.

Overview of the issue and your approach: Strengths: holistic and multiscalar vision to manage metropolitan, urban and local scale; active and dynamic preservation of the historic environment; strategic areas correspond with urban planning indications; timeline of medium- and long-term interventions.

Weaknesses: dilated timelines for ecological process results; high extent of Connective Systems and site-specific design; complex morphology and infrastructure.

Opportunities: use of already available spatial resources (artifacts of industrial archaeology, brownfields, and residential complexes); opportunity to work within natural context and ecological structures; willingness of the municipality to make the city competitive by reducing gentrification; high landscape value and presence of extensive ecological networks.

Threats: complex program management and design and management competitions; finding private investors.

The strong morphological component and different landscape structures of the Connective Systems led us to use the acupunctural and transcalar systems strategy, developing a single methodological approach, composed as follows:
- SCALE XL: reading the metropolitan region, establishing a dialogue with the Florentine realities;
- SCALE L: identification of Connective Systems, whose potential lies in the portions of the fabric located in their surroundings;
- SCALE M: isolation of specific conditions defined as structuring potential. Work is done on the reinterpretation of discontinuities such as major urban nodes, railway barriers, strategic road axes, the enhancement of the built heritage, the ecological system of the Arno River and minor streams, and the active and dynamic preservation of the historic landscape.
- SCALE S: definition of distinct typological structures, to activate the regeneration process, through localized operations on the built, open spaces and infrastructure.
The stakeholders in your project: - Local associations, to act as a link between the city and the user, including through participatory processes;
- Municipal governments, for local knowledge and to generate a strong, multidisciplinary economy;
- Metropolitan area entities, to dialogue with ongoing regeneration strategies;
- Private investors, to finance some pilot projects;
- Verification of objectives to channel investment and make the transition smooth, also comparing on a global scale.