By Carmen Germaine, NYU Florence student
This weekend, a group of (around 30) international masters students in Architecture, Urban Design, and Urban Planning from the University of Melbourne and the Technical University of Delft descended on Florence, where for the next two weeks they will work with University of Florence students on an exciting and innovative environmental design project called Eco-Acupuncture. In this project, they will identify points throughout the city which require small-scale intervention in order to achieve environmental sustainability, while also paying attention to the needs of the community and the rich history of each site. The idea is to use small interventions to change the way Florence operates in a very real way, bringing the city forward to face a future made uncertain by the threat of climate change and growing dependence on fossil fuels.
It will be no easy task, and Florence, the stereotypical ‘Renaissance’ town, may seem like a strange choice of city for such cutting-edge interventions. But, as the students learned yesterday in lectures given throughout the day, it is the history of the city itself which makes it such an intriguing site for this exciting experiment. Despite its often static appearance, Florence is a dynamic city with a history of change and a heritage of innovation. As Dario Nardella, the Vice Mayor of Florence, explained yesterday to the students, “Tradition without innovation is a dead heritage”; this workshop, then, aims at bringing Florence’s innovative history back to life and transforming it into a model for other European historical cities facing the same challenges. It will be a challenge, for both the students and the city, but as Professor Chris Ryan of the University of Melbourne emphasized last night, we are in a period of change which “has to be a period of immense creativity,” creativity which will come through over the following two weeks as we begin to use the city to tell a new story about the future.