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id eaea2009_piga
authors Piga, Barbara E.A.
year 2011
title The Urban Simulation and Projects Evaluation Laboratory at the Politecnico di Milano: An Educational and Research Facility
source Projecting Spaces [Proceedings of the 9th European Architectural Endoscopy Association Conference / ISBN 978-3-942411-31-8 ], pp. 115-120
summary At the beginning of 2007 an Italian Urban Simulation Laboratory was founded at the Politecnico di Milano. The laboratory, coordinated by prof. Fausto Curti, has been developed thanks to the one year presence of the visiting professor Peter Bosselmann, director of the Environmental Simulation Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. The laboratory has an interdisciplinary approach and a threefold mission: experiment, using the laboratory setting to study urban projects at different scales; communicate, aiding public communication by making urban projects understandable to everyone; integrate and innovate, working on different kind of simulations techniques in an integrated way. In its initial experience the laboratory is primarily a didactic and research facility. Students can join the work and participate actively to the research. Until now about 40 students have worked with us, more than a half were foreign students from all over the world. The majority of the students did an internship of about 150 (three-year degree) or 300 (master degree) hours and some of them have continued working after this period developing a thesis. At the moment the case study, used as a pilot research, is about the Porta Nuova project at the Garibaldi- Repubblica area in Milan. The 300.000 mq of the total area and its well served central position make this place strategic for Milan. In this area the adopted urban transformation plan is creating a new business center that affects redevelopment projects, new infrastructures, and a park. The overall project will overhanging the surroundings city center with some of the highest buildings of its skyline. The importance of the site and the dimension of the project make this case significant to test the use of simulation for supporting evaluations about morphological aspects, comfort conditions, visual impacts, and other aspects that directly influence the quality of the new urban spaces. We are now applying different simulation methodologies in order to better understand the peculiar usefulness of each kind as a tool to support evaluation. As any kind has its own limits we work with different typologies at the same time. We are working with 1:500 scale physical model of a 1 km square of the area and different kind of static and dynamic simulations. We developed, with an external office, a micro-car to move a micro-camera in the maquette. We use this equipment to better explain the project implications to the students by producing subjective shot videos or showing a walk in real-time. To reproduce in a better way some relevant walks through the transformed site we have also produced some videos made of a superimposition of the real existing context and the virtual projects. To do this we used a rendered video of the project superimposed to the filmed promenade of the today condition, previously recorded using steadycam. A lot of static simulations has been employed to better understand the new city configuration from some representative points of view, as for example the roof of the Duomo cathedral. We are now developing some other kinds of analysis such as shadows impact; this is done by using a 1:1000 scale maquette in the Heliodon, but also with some digital tools. In the next future a work with the wind tunnel will help to understand some other comfort implications of the project at the micro-urban scale. The multilayer approach is the main aim of the laboratory and is an important tool to clarify the multidimensional project impacts to the students. In this way the laboratory can be a learning tool, it can stimulate the project process and support decision-making while improving the knowledge about the correct use of simulations for evaluating the cumulative implications of the proposed urban processes.
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