The conference of June 4th focuses on rewriting the future by making peace with nature and our ecosystem with creativity and foresightedness. Architect Stefano Boeri and Olivier François, CEO of Fiat Automobiles, participate in the event to present their ideas for the future.
Gwen Marletta, laureata in lingue e presto in gestione dei sistemi turistici, è un’nstancabile viaggiatrice e nomade per natura, esplora il mondo da quando, a soli due anni, i suoi genitori le hanno fatto scoprire le prime destinazioni. Oggi collabora per Agenda Viaggi scrivendo in inglese.
The story that brought together Stefano Boeri, designer of the Vertical Forests and creator of the project ForestaMi, aiming at the air purification of Milan’s Metropolitan Area thanks to the planting of 3 million trees by 2030, and Olivier François, CEO of Fiat Automobiles, is set in March 2020. “Back in the spring of last year we were getting ready for the Geneva Euroshow” explains François, “we were planning on presenting the new Fiat electric 500 already but then the show was cancelled”. An alternative event was then organised in the Triennale museum of Milan by Boeri, president of the institution. The connection between the two figures is also depicted in the new commercial for the 500 starring Leonardo Di Caprio, strong environmental activist, which features Milan’s cityscape and Boeri’s wonder, the Vertical Forest.
“We want to send out a message: electric mobility and green architecture can be the basis for higher quality of life in urban environments” states Boeri. 70% of the CO2 produced, in fact, comes from cities, making them the root of global warming and hence the perfect starting point to mitigate our environmental impact. Carbon dioxide and particulate matter are both absorbable by trees “but we need to act now. 91% of people in the world doesn’t breathe clean air, one example is the Pianura Padana, considered to have one of the worst air quality indexes in Europe” he continues. Particulate matter causes long term health consequences such as lung cancer, however epidemiological studies have shown that tree rich areas present reduced cases of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Green areas in the cities not only make them more pleasant and liveable but also safer for human health. The solutions are many, not only green buildings but also permeable surfaces, multiplication of gardens and parks, green facades, urban agriculture, networks of green corridors and orbital forests and woodland around cities.
The manifesto of urban forestry and the New Renaissance
Bosco Verticale, the two apartment buildings ideated by Boeri and located in Porta Nuova district of Milan, are not only a prototype of green architecture but also a hub for social inclusion and for the promotion of renewable energy. Big themes further developed by the architect in his new book, Urbania, the stories of metropolitan archipelagos surrounded by green seas, the colossal project in Sub-Saharan Africa to stop the expansion of the desert with the “construction” of a green tree wall and the development of soft mobility with no concept of ownership and no carbon fuels. The objective is to adapt to a world where leisure, work and mobility have become one and fluid, where communities have learned that distance does not influence intensity. Similarly, the new Fiat 500 aims at inspiring change with its innovative design and modalities. “Before Covid the world was already at a point where compromise was not acceptable anymore, lockdown was just another sign of it, a confirmation” claims Olivier François. With remote working, the average milage in 2020 went down by 75%, before commuting had created a vicious circle affecting quality of life, causing traffic congestion and peaks in emissions. However, after the crisis a new life is possible, there is now an opportunity to change and the key of that change will be simplicity. The two big obstacles to electric cars though, describes François, are price, which could be overcome with car sharing, swappable batteries or different models with fewer features, and, most importantly, scarce availability of charging, which might be solved with private EV charging stations at home that are cheaper and more comfortable.
Improving energy efficiency
The CEO od Fiat goes then on explaining how the concept proposed already by American writer and sociologist Jeremy Rifkin could be put into practice in the foreseeable future. “Circular economy could be used to equip parking spaces with solar panels that would be then connected to the cars, the energy collectors and distributors of future cities”, François auspicates cars not only to be used for transportation but to have purpose even when parked. Another issue to tackle would be the visibility of the charging stations. People lamenting the lack of charging stations, in fact, probably do not know that there is 1 charging column for every 10 cars but they are not easily discernible in the urban landscape. For this reason, collaboration between designers, urban planners and car manufacturers will be crucial. Olivier François announces then the project of converting the roof of the Lingotto, the historical production main building of Fiat in Turin, into a hanging garden, a sky forest that will revitalise the city and the community around it. He then concludes “beauty and creativity will save the world and these are the virtues of Italy and its thinkers”.