There was a time when it was believed that Planning could actually reshape the destiny of a city: the right functions at the right place, all baked in a coherent form to fulfil the highest degree of efficiency. This is not the case anymore. The multiplicity of stakeholders involved in the making of the city nowadays, with their own contrasting, unpredictable interests, makes unsustainable any uniform, top-down action, and rather asks for a process of Negotiation. On the other hand, the empowerment and participation of citizens in decision making, opens the way to a new, exciting application of direct democracy.

For this urban planning competition in Vestbyen, Aalborg, the project aims at providing the city with questions instead of solutions. Questions in built form. After a reading of the neighbourhood in terms of sameness and diversity, punctual, uncanny interventions are laid down as Baits. These follow empiric occasions, interruptions in the city fabric or infrastructural overlap, in order to foster interest around certain spots in the city. As incubators, they introduce new iconic values to reveal hidden potentials and disclose a widest spectre of possibilities. The interventions are over-imposed, adding instead of replacing, so to preserve at most the built traces of the city that was: a deep stratification of meanings and values triggers people’s memory. A dialectic process of negotiation is then started between municipality, stakeholders and citizens: it is based upon Negotiative Plans that will evolute trough iterative adaptation to changing needs, inspiring people’s imagination, give birth to unpredictable uses and, eventually, influence the physical transformation of the area.

Europan 12 Competition, 1st Prize, 2014.

In collaboration with Andrijana Sekulic.

all content ©Gianmaria Socci, 2020