Clusters of specialized activities and peri-urban spaces in Bologna metropolitan city. A survey on planning instruments, between continuity and innovation

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Submission Summary
This contribution lies in the intertwining of two areas of the territory and urban planning’s studies: on the one hand, the research on “peri-urban spaces” (or "fringe areas"), on the other hand, the reflections on “specialized peripheral settlements” of activities, often indicated in literature in various ways such as “functional poles”, “specialized clusters”, “citadels”. It is possible to observe how peri-urban areas have often been investigated focusing on the open space, and permanence of natural and rural elements, tackling instead in a less systematic way the presence of important specialized activities (with an economic role and catalyst for intangible flows, goods, and people): logistics and infrastructural spaces, entertainment and large commercial activities, up to campuses and tertiary services. The contribution aims to focus on specialized peri-urban areas and “functional poles” (as these are specifically named in this specific context), observing how they were conceived by the planning tools and Plans, using as profitable field the case of Bologna Metropolitan City, in the north of Italy. The territory under investigation is the northern part of this metropolitan area: an urban-rural sector that opens up to the agricultural plain of Padana Valley but that is also characterized by the presence of important specialized settlements (the fair pavilions, commercial spaces, the university campus and the regional airport). In the first part (I), the paper's aim is to highlight the principles of cluster’s planning and design within wider metropolitan strategies, but also to reflect on the results of planning tools and their current conditions. In the second part (II), the contribution enters into the details of some specific “planning agreements” (in Italian: “Accordi di Programma”), recently redefined by the Metropolitan City, as the result of consultations between local Authorities, Public Entities and Private operators. The contribution is directly inspired by a research collaboration developed by the author with the Metropolitan City of Bologna for the definition of new guidelines for the metropolitan functional poles' agreements. In that experience, the Local Authority tried to introduce new themes for their definition. In addition to more traditional elements (public accessibility, charges and endowments), there were new challenges related to habitability, regeneration and spatial and functional articulations, through actions such as encouraging forms of sustainable mobility, journeys and connections with the territory, qualification of open spaces, environmental comfort etc. Downstream of the definition of the new agreements, the paper wants to observe if it was possible for the Administration to introduce these new themes and in what form they are present, both at a strategic and planning level and as elements of consultation with private subjects.
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7: Shaping Liveable Places
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Assistant Professor
POLITECNICO DI MILANO, DAStU Department of Architecture and Urban Planning
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