Roberto Bolici
Matteo Gambaro
Cristiana Giordano


Open spaces in the urban landscapes suffer from deterioration caused by man that leads to two major outcomes: on one side they are abandoned because of newer contemporary needs, on the other hand they tend to be “cannibalized” in the attempt to satisfy our society. This has caused a progressive retraction of urban open spaces that have become residual spaces with no shape and no name.
This course of crisis has damaged the identity of places and this is more acute in historic urban landscapes that are recognised as cultural heritage and world heritage. The historic urban landscape approach suggested by UNESCO recognises public spaces’ importance for society and promotes the acknowledgement of public spaces and their dynamism aiming to the integration of preservation, social development and economic targets.
To understand how “historic urban landscapes” are taking care of their public spaces, a few Management Plans of UNESCO’s World Heritage cities have been compared. Only Italian UNESCO sites with an “urban complex” characterisation have been considered, this means a limited part of a city with homogenous characteristics from a spatial, historic and cultural point of view. We have focused our attention on the specific interventions for the management of open spaces, in order to identify the major targets and their executive tools, projects and actions.
In the light of the above-mentioned analyses, we propose some strategies to fight the decline of public spaces (streets, squares, gardens, etc.) and to enhance these spaces with great attention, trying to improve their fruition and comfort according to their historic and cultural values.
The need to identify design strategies to enhance public spaces within the historic urban landscape is included in the research and test activities carried out in the UNESCO site of Mantova and Sabbioneta. This site is an excellent area of applicability because of its urban shape, molded in years by the Gonzaga family. Together with the UNESCO Mantova e Sabbioneta office, we have involved citizens in the requalification design to activate regaining process and test the applicability of our analyses in the city of Mantova, a very articulated and complex reality, starting from the fruition of its places and according to its morphological, environmental, cultural and perceptive aspects.


How to Cite
Bolici, R., Gambaro, M. and Giordano, C. (2017) “The regaining of public spaces to enhance the historic urban landscape”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(1), pp. 45–56. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i1.49.
Author Biographies

Roberto Bolici, Politecnico di Milano

Architect and Assistant Professor of “Architectural Technology” at Politecnico di Milano. He teaches “Architectural Technology” at the “School of Architecture Urban Planning Construction Engineering” of Politecnico di Milano.
He is Assistant Professor at the Department of “Architecture, Built environment and Constructions engineering - ABC” of Politecnico di Milano. He conducts research in the themes of architectural and environmental design for the enhancement of the built environment, with a specific focus on the sustainable regeneration of urban and environmental systems.

He is part of the “Environmental Design Cluster” and the “Social Housing Cluster” of the SITdA (Italian Society of Architectural Technology).
He manages the “TEMA Research Unit - Technology, Environment and Management” of the Mantua Campus.
He is an experienced member of the “Regional Commission for landscape of hills and great lakes” of the Regional Government of Lombardy.

Matteo Gambaro, Politecnico di Milano

Architect and PhD in “Planning, maintenance and requalification of building and urban systems”. 
Research Associate and professor of “Architectural Technology” at the “School of Architecture Urban Planning Construction Engineering” of Politecnico di Milano.
He works together with Institutions and Public Administrations on technological innovation and research into building and urban requalification processes. 
From 2009 he is part of the PhD “Design and technologies for cultural heritage” scientific board. He is part of the “Italian Society of Architectural Technology” scientific board and of the “Techne - Journal of Technology for Architecture and Environment” editorial board. He is into the “Italian meeting associations and CNAPPC - Working table between Training and University” working group. He is part of the “Provveditorato Interregionale alle Opere Pubbliche per la Lombardia e l’Emilia Romagna” technical committee for the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport.

Cristiana Giordano, Politecnico di Milano

Expert in “Technologies for cultural heritage preservation” confirmed by Cagliari Engineering University and Architect with “Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture” confirmed by Politecnico di Milano.
She got PhD in “Design and technologies for cultural heritage” confirmed by Politecnico di Milano.
She has taught “Architectural Technology” at the “School of Architecture Urban Planning Costruction Engineering” of Politecnico di Milano.
She does research together with the “TEMA Research Unit” inside the Mantua Campus on the themes of public spaces requalification, Unesco sites’ management, architectural and environmental design for the enhancement of the built environment.
She is working together with the “Unesco Mantua and Sabbioneta Office” for the site’s Management Plan update.


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