International Syposium for the UNESCO – Sesto San Giovanni Application


By URBACT, on January 11th, 2011

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Sesto San Giovanni, partner in NeT-TOPIC URBACT Project, is a city undergoing transformation: from the 20th century factory town to a new multi-functional city, with high quality housing, commercial space and offices, new green areas and public facilities.

The new urban development plan, called Piano di Governo del Territorio (P.G.T.), is the framework for this transformation and it governs regeneration projects on big abandoned industrial areas (over 2 million square metres), close to the city centre. The P.G.T. also promotes the reuse of industrial architecture.

In fact, the city is applying to have the industrial site of Sesto San Giovanni included on the World Heritage List in the “Organically Evolved Landscape” Category. Thus, industrial memory is central to urban development and the city’s new identity.

The URBACT Local Support Group (primarily comprising members of the UNESCO project support group, called Comitato di sostegno UNESCO) is reflecting on this complex transitional phase and trying to tackle three issues through the Local Action Plan:

  • What is the role of industrial heritage in the new urban model promoted by the P.G.T.? How can the industrial heritage be a real strategic asset for urban development?
  • Which functions have to be prioritised in reusing industrial architecture? Public facilities, public services, high functions (museum, library, university, exhibition centre,etc.)? And/or private functions (commercial, tertiary, etc.)?
  • The reuse of industrial architectures is expensive, especially for cleaning areas: what kind of financing can be promoted? Public funds, public/private partnership, sponsorship, private investment, etc.?

On last 24-25 September, the City of Sesto San Giovanni held an International Symposium to promote the UNESCO Candidature: “Sesto San Giovanni: a History and a Future. Industrial Heritage for the Whole World”. The third section of the Symposium was dedicated to URBACT Local Support Group  questions, mentioned above, and to some international experiences: Nord-Pas de
Calais in France, Gunma in Japan, Le-Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, Soufli in Greece, Pachuca in Mexico, Ruhr-Emscher Park in Germany, and Piombino and Venice in Italy.

The Sesto S. Giovanni Local Action Plan will also study these contributions and international experiences in depth, trying to apply them to the reuse of local industrial heritage.

Alessandro Casati
NeT-TOPIC local project coordinator in Sesto San Giovanni

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