Wood Sprawl

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0  9 - the smoke was high in the clearing 6 - a quick dip above the trees 7 - the water cut through 5 - warehouse cut through 4 - the warehouse explosion 2 a careful chaos 3 - a royal eagle's view3 1 - it's long since you built a cathedral 3 1


Wood Sprawl – A project for Milan’s periphery.

Matheus Cartocci & Piercarlo Quecchia 

An industrial, half abandoned area in Milan’s darkest periphery is asking for an urban redevelopment: 50’000 square meters of social housing and facilities to fill what is currently seen as an urban void. Wood Sprawl undertakes the study of the peripheries along with their flaws and the monsters they left behind from the bygone 50s, the 60s and the 70s along with the lack of any care, design or any social integration. The superposition of a rational grid meant to solve all problems and flatten any diversity and challenging peculiarity. It aims to change the paradigm in suburban developments, no longer ex-novo constructions and massive buildings but rather precise surgical interventions to bring new life to the abandoned current structures. The void now becomes an urban forest, not a garden, not a park but a forest. A forest where the unexpected is welcome, where the rigid grid of the cities expansion has no value, where rational patterns stop at the borders and architecture is brought back to its primordial phase, in complete harmony with nature. A wooded area with a succession of clearings, dense patches, lakes and towers hosts small chapels, high slim bridges, floating swimming pools and metaphysical platforms. The square meters the city requires are distributed around the area: empty warehouses, deposits, occupied houses and roofless ‘cascinas’ are brought back to life through rigorous study and precise interventions on the existing. All connected to the central forest through promenades that extend above the rooftops, above the yards and above the treetops. The public functions the city needs, closer to the center of the forest; the more private functions, towards the outer extremities of the footbridges. The urban scale of the periphery now becomes the first design factor for what was intended to be a series of traditional buildings.




Who influences you graphically?
Sebastiano Serlio, Di Giorgio Martini, Andrea Palladio and the Italian renaissance treaties have been a great joy lately, profound inspiration.

What dictated the choice of yellow for the background?
Ancient printings on gold sheets have brought us to imagine today’s broken cities under such noble light.

What is your take on colour and why the absence of it in your graphics?
We believe colour is useful and rich when operated with care. On the other hand it can become misleading and distractive when pushed too far. In this case we felt colour was not needed to express the project’s identity and thus left all the work to the drawings’ honesty.

You talk a lot about the materiality of this new intervention, however you graphics totally lack any sense of this. Why so?
If materiality is expressed through textures and colours, yes, we did not express it with these drawings; yet the priority was not to speak about materials and physical elements but a new way of thinking peripheral sprawls in European cities.

If you could to revisit the project how would/could you have graphically explored the intertwining and merging of your proposal and the live forest?
We probably would have drawn the forest tree by tree by hand.

You chose to primarily explore your proposal through technical drawings as the axo, plan and section. To what extent do you trust these explore the proposal in greater depth compared to inclusive perspective views?
Plans, sections and axos cannot lie. Using the three of them requires a full awareness of the project and do not allow any superficiality in the design phase. Plans and axos clear the distribution and layouts, sections and perspective render the emotional feelings. These are here used to express the designed atmosphere.




Matheus and Piercarlo are both graduate students at the Politecnico di Milano approaching their final thesis project. Their strong concern is the relation between architecture and town planning, history of the place, social studies, anthropology, nature and man. In this constant research, the use of photography as drawings, becomes a fundamental tool to investigate reality.



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