March 25, 2022 – “Milan In The Future” was the theme of the meeting held on March 22 and promoted by the Corriere della Sera Foundation along with the Pesenti Foundation and the collaboration of Rotary International (district 2041) and the Collegio delle Università Milanesi Foundation, looking for proposals and perspectives with an outlook to the future of Milan, after the pandemic.
Work, health, science and culture are some of the excellences of Milan and its attractiveness.
The pandemic emergency shocked the whole world as well as Milan; the city had to face complex problems and dramatic situations.
The health crisis, working from home, and distance learning changed the physiognomy and dimension of the resident population. Yet, the pandemic affects urban mobility, work and the economy. Tourism, entertainment and culture recorded relevant economic losses and the whole “Milan Model” has to rethink its future.
To this end, a survey study was conducted by the 51 Clubs of the Milan District 2041 of Rotary International, in collaboration with the Collegio delle Università Milanesi Foundation, based on focus groups with young people, attracted to living in Milan from out of town or from other countries.
The conference was opened by Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, (by videoconference), who highlighted the importance of synergies between foundations and public and private organizations to network knowledge about rethinking the future of the city: “The most powerful tool to accelerate innovation is the exchange among universities, foundations and all public and private energies working together for a proper dissemination of knowledge. In this regard, I wish to thank all those who, like the Corriere della Sera Foundation, the Pesenti Foundation and the Rotary Club, share knowledge to kindle new ideas and new projects.” In concluding his address, Mayor Sala emphasised the need “to design the change by restoring a central role to health, achieving zero carbon emissions, enhancing digital transformation, identifying quality employment opportunities mostly for young people and women, optimizing services for citizens, protecting the environment and making our development sustainable. I would like to stress again that all this will only be made possible by a strong cooperation between all public and private energies in a joint mission for progress.”
“The key words of the opening of this meeting are generosity, culture, innovation, digitization and sustainability”, Massimo Sideri, coordinator of the meeting, asked for a reflection on the Mayor’s words, introducing Luciano Fontana, the Corriere della Sera newspaper editor.
“Some core values are being questioned these days. We must remember that we are here today to design the future of our city,” Luciano Fontana remarked, “I think that Milan has all the skills and qualities to respond to the ongoing emergency and to overcome this setback, which certainly does not narrow its perspectives. Work, culture and health are all keys to success. We must pay particular attention to student flows, young people often from out of town, who choose to study and live in Milan. The key must be to design Milan as a talent attraction – though talent retention is often expensive and difficult to achieve – ensuring that all talents, across all social classes, find here the perfect place to build their future.”
The debate was opened by Benedetta Tagliabue, a renowned architect, Founder & Head Architect of the EMBT studio, who – introducing some of her projects – offered a broad perspective on how cities have to rethink urban rhythms, mobility and design in a Post-Pandemic World. “The common theme of our projects over the last 10 years, with particular reference to the Milan (2015) and Shanghai (2010) Expo, was precisely the motto ‘Better cities – better life’ which made us wonder how to build a better city and how the art of building can contribute to a better life. How to transform a place into an attractive, liveable place”. The international starchitect described emerging trends in major urban areas from Europe to China. “The post-pandemic urges us to focus on public spaces and make them more human-friendly. Even in densely populated large cities, architects are somehow tasked with designing urban areas where citizens feel at home: cities themselves must be experimental hubs of collective thought.”
“This conference stems from the idea of meeting and responding to the needs of young people and students, and recreating those youth flows that used to fuel the city of Milan before the pandemic halt”. Massimo Sideri introduced the first guests at the round table, and then invited Manlio Grassi, Governor of District 2041 of Rotary International to illustrate the “Milan In The Future” project.
“We meant not just helping out in times of crisis, but offering our 100-year experience in the city to try and plan the future. It all started in the first months of 2021, observing the ‘Milan system’ suffering a sudden stop, after an unrestrainable growth trend. The 51 Rotary districts of Milan began to wonder what was possible and necessary to do for their city. Thus, the idea arose to collect the club’s wealth of experience in a single and shared document. It is meant to be handed over to the community and all local actors who could benefit from it to design programs and projects for the growth of the city. A collection of information helping highlight the real needs of today’s citizens.”
“This project can be a meeting place for generations, since a major issue today is the absence of intergenerational dialogue when planning the future.” Stefano Blanco, General Director of the Collegio delle Università Milanesi Foundation, describes the experience with international students, a central theme for Milan: “We will launch a project to discover the major attractions of the city conducting a series of focus groups that will involve and give a voice to students from all Italian and foreign universities and faculties, who chose to study in Milan.” And he concludes: “the pandemic changed the relationship with what is an ‘external element’ to our lives. We need to rediscover a city that can talk to people.”
“The pandemic showed the quality of our national healthcare system, while highlighting some critical issues such as the relationship with the territory and the city itself, and also the State-Regions relationship,” Sergio Harari, Director of the Pneumology Unit at San Giuseppe Hospital in Milan, underlines the impact of healthcare on social and economic systems. “The question now is about coping with these problems and revisiting and consolidating our healthcare system. The PNRR provides us with some indications but it will not be such an obvious path.”
“The PNRR is an extraordinary opportunity, but with some precautions: it will be essential to integrate the different policy areas, to make strategic planning come from the territories. It is also essential to combine a very fast model with a long-term perspective” highlights Carolina Pacchi, Professor of Urban Policies at Politecnico di Milano. “An urban policy is needed that takes into account all its related policies: from education to services and health, from environment to sustainability, but also physical and digital infrastructures. In this sense, thinking in terms of urban policies means using space and community as elements to reconcile and integrate all these different areas: space is in itself a natural element of integration, and the effects of policies inevitably intersect, but we know that it’s not always a virtuous intersection.”
“Milan is renowned for design skills and therefore the financial resources allocated by the PNRR will certainly be substantial” confirms Carlo Altomonte, Professor of European Economic Policy at Bocconi University. “I am referring in particular to the funds allocated to the city, namely renewal of suburbs, social housing, healthcare, as well as sustainable mobility”. But he also points out that a further effort will however be necessary: “To meet this challenge, we cannot just properly manage these projects, we’ll have to integrate them into the urban fabric, activating private capital, businesses, citizens, a network of services complementing the public initiative and multipling its effect on the territory.”
“People make the city” concludes Walter Magnoni, Professor of Social Ethics at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. “Today, there is an urgent need to redesign a city close to citizens. We must not forget that everything is connected, that everything is related. During the pandemic we learned the importance of re-imagining a proximity healthcare system providing, when possible, medical care of patients at home. We should ask ourselves: how much shall we rethink this model today? In an aging city with low birth rates and the issue of loneliness of the elderly and frail people, how can we today recreate links, avoiding many different cities coexisting within the same one? Areas that often feel abandoned, denouncing the lack of services or the excessive costs of housing. Proximity means rethinking all aspects and putting people first, not as a slogan, but as a practice.“