From citizen engagement to citizen ownership – Living Street in Turin

In Turin, Living Streets have been the opportunity to rethink the use of public space towards pedestrianisation in the residential district of Campidoglio, thanks to a living lab project gathering associations, citizens and municipality departments.

A living lab in the Campidoglio district

Campidoglio (5,000 inhabitants) is not a touristic neighbourhood. It is mainly a residential district but hosts as well in its outskirts the biggest food market in Turin. Campidoglio is also home to many local artists and craftsmen. Campidoglio is characterised by narrow streets, full of cars. Currently there is only one pedestrian street, but this is not really respected by the drivers who still continue to park and drive there. There is in this district an existing willingness from the residents to take back the streets and organise something else in the public space. The municipality supported this process by proposing Laboratorio Campidoglio, a living lab, to facilitate meetings with the citizens, allowing contact among themselves, but letting them be the main contributors to the Living Streets activities.

To prepare the events, the municipality contacted all associations in the neighbourhood and the craftsmen. A world café workshop with about 30 participants was organised in June 2017 to develop ideas for activities (What can we organise to make the area more liveable?) and then all the ideas were discussed in terms of their feasibility. A follow-up workshop was organised in July to define the agenda of the Living Streets event based on the ideas collected. Participants highlighted to the need to make the borough more visible to its inhabitants but also from the outside so that is becomes more inclusive.

On 14&15 September and 16&17 October 2017, two Living Street events were organised in this neighbourhood. These were co-organised with the active participation of the citizens, shops, schools and other associations within the neighbourhood. Besides these events attracted a lot of people outside of the area who came there for the first time.

municipality of Turin

A wide range of activities took place:

  • Painting workshop: One of the local artists in the neighbourhood proposed a painting workshop with children on the topic “what neighbourhood would you like in the future?”.
  • Consultation of citizens who were asked to imagine the neighbourhood with different mobility, what kind of possibilities they see to change this area into a pedestrian area and also what street furniture they would need to make this area more comfortable. Citizens suggested to have benches, plants, public furniture. Urban furniture was installed with the help of a group of citizens already involved in urban agriculture.
  • Role play with the primary school: Children were playing roles such as a disabled person, a mum with a pushchair and little children, etc. so that they could see with the eyes of the role they were playing which were the problems of the area. After the tour of the neighbourhood they could come back with difficulties they faced and they were aware of, allowing them to reimagine the Campidoglio district without all these difficulties. Some children were playing the policemen, putting some paper with messages on people’s cars, not real fines, with the message: “And me where can I go?”.
  • Art exhibition: Local artists from the neighbourhood made an art exhibition, including paintings with some sights from the Campidoglio district. This allowed some artists to be promoted and be more well known and made people discover spesific spots in the neighbourhood illustrated in the paintings.
  • Debate on future activities: A debate was organised to think about what should be done after the Living Streets event. Citizens appreciated that Living Streets made connection between them and now they are growing as a group and want to be more autonomous. This ensures that at the end of the project people still want to act and continue this process.

The impact: a collaborative project that brings more social interaction to the district

The Living Streets events are a confirmation that the citizens wish to have the public area in Campidoglio without cars. Traffic and parking have been the most debated themes during this experiment. By the end of the summer 2018, part of the Campidoglio area will be pedestrianised and this is causing a big turmoil in the district. The majority of the inhabitants are satisfied with it, but some are worried about the toll parking or the distance of the car parks from their home. People will need time to integrate the transformation in their daily life, but the first impression is of a general favourable acceptance of this decision.

The social cohesion in the neighbourhood has considerably increased, and a discreet number of citizens now meet regularly to discuss issues regarding the daily life of the borough. Schools, commercial activities and citizens are aware of the importance to exchange ideas and listen to each other in order to make proposals and work together for their realisation.

New activities have been created following the Living Streets events: the creation of a monthly street market of arts and crafts made in Campidoglio and urban gardening activities with citizens and schools related to the furniture that has been placed in Borgo Campidoglio.

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