Register: NOV/01/2018, Submit: NOV/01/2018, Eligibility: Architects, artists, designers, creatives; individually, teams, Fee: Free, Awards: 1st Prize 3,000 EUR, 5 Special Mentions
Isola Pepe Verde is a community garden, the result of a collective effort, which was established as an association on Oct 6, 2011 as was required by the City of Milan. It contributes to the development of a new urban culture based on participation and the reclaiming of responsibilities by citizens. The association is non-profit, and its activities cannot be subject to fractions, politics, economics or denominations that conflict with the norms of its statute. Currently, Isola Pepe Verde consists of 20 founding members, 18 board members, 594 members of whom 306 have made their annual renewal. It is born out of the need to give a green space back to the neighbourhood Isola, which for a long time was dominated by the constructions sites of the Porta Nuova development, and is the culmination of citizens’ willpower and experimentation with modes of sharing to define and manage the green spaces of the city. At present, the association holds the rights, granted by the City of Milan, to the publicly-owned area of 1.800 m2.
The current project that appropriated and renewed an area previously used as building depository was made possible by the municipal resolution no. 1143 on May 25, 2012 that permitted the association to start the first experience of community gardens, and thanks to the agreement signed by the city council district 9, Isola Pepe Verde became the first community garden in Milan.
The garden is currently open every day from 9.30 am to sunset, opening hours guaranteed by the number of volunteers. Since its inauguration in 2013, the activities of Pepe Verde have increased exponentially. Aside from the garden, the association has also been managing the green stretch of land between Pepe street and the Bussa overpass since 2011. The hope is that this area will be part of the planning to turn the part of Pepe street in front of the garden into a pedestrian lane, creating a green space that will extend all the way to the Bussa overpass.
Since its start, the area of Pepe Verde has been self-sustainable without any costs for local institutions. The organisation and maintenance of the garden are managed entirely by the association: the spaces and activities are organised and take form thanks to the collective contributions and volunteering of its visitors.
The purpose of the competition is to think about the reorganisation of the Isola Pepe Verde space in its entirety, with a focus on the playground.
As mentioned before, the objective is to realise, in successive stages (3 parts in 3 consecutive times), a design project that can reimagine the garden area, as indicated in the attachments. In particular, candidates are called to prioritise the design of the playground (which will have to comply with the anti-accident and safety regulations for children), but also focus on the development of the games themselves.
It must be different from market standards and instead, represent new game ideas (participants can refer to the scientific literature on the subject), which involve some of the themes related to dreams, creativity, the way of thinking about reality and the world.
The themes of the imagination and nature are crucial to the project.
The candidates can freely choose whether to rethink all the other elements of Isola Pepe Verde, such as the fence, the roofs, the entrances, and internal distributions, in order to generate an idea of overall transformation consistent with the nature of the presented project.
Different Types of Annual Visitors
Isola Pepe Verde hosted 120 daily visitors, 6500 flaneurs, 2500 party goers and 22 associations.
Currently, the garden has 1000 natural specimens, 200 plant species, 35 ecoboxes and 2 compost boxes.
Dimensions / Spaces / Surfaces
Isola Pepe Verde is configured as a space of about 1830 sqm, divided as follow:
- Playground: about 435 m2
- Ecobox space: approximately 310 m2
- Garden: approximately 505 m2
- Roofed areas: 530 m2
- Closed rooms: room 1 – 26.5 m2, room 2 – 10.5 m2, room 3 – 11 m2
- Parking: 390 m2
- Buffer zone from the overpass: 650 m2
The centre includes a variety of diverse activities that are flexible and dynamic and which could be classified in the following categories:
- Kids activities that consist of play areas, educational workshops under the roof area, summer schools/camps and other courses
- Gardening activities: 35 ecoboxes distributed to create a community garden workshops regarding gardening
- Activities for the elderly/senior citizens
- Workshops/courses for adults
- Craft and secondhand markets
- Art and book exhibitions/presentations
Community gardens become specifically emblematic of a transitional phase typical of the contemporary city that attempt to reconcile the idea of the metropolis with the capillary value of neighbourhoods. As reported by M. Schiltz, this phenomenon was typical at the end of the nineteenth century where it became a testimony of the shift from a rural society to an industrial reality. Today, the community garden is an emerging feature in the transition between an industrial dormitory city and post-industrial city focussed on well-being. All proposals must keep room for the ecoboxes and reflect on the culture of community gardens as a response to the failure of contemporary public spaces.
Isola Pepe Verdes aims to keep its environmental impact and consumption of energy resources to a minimum and reduce its ecological footprint. For this reason, since its opening, the association has been working to become a self-sufficient space with zero impact. At the moment it is equipped with solar panels for electricity and five rainwater tanks for garden irrigation.