How to narrate Nevicata (snowfall) of 2014? How to explain the analogy between a meteorological phenomenon and an urban project? How to do it when its collective of authors was of almost 400 people?
We decided to create a story, a collective story, where all the people involved, all actions taken, all produced content (including the proposed project) could be included.
The story is told from 2024, a decade after the #nevicata14, and it talks about how it appeared, how citizens discovered it, how it was appropriated. It tells also about project of equipment to use this phenomenon better.
Finally it tells how it became a part of Milanese identity and was recreated after EXPO.
The sense of story coincides with the concept of our approach. We believe today that making a city (a city like Milan) requires not only functionality, response to the needs, efficiency in management and use of resources. These requirements are essential and implicit.
But we think that we can also be optimistic today, and that first of all a city should be imagined together.
There is great need to instruct processes and protocols which would allow a new partnership between administrations and society for the identity definition. Identity that then inevitably will be transformed into spaces, functions, services, people.
So here is our story:
It was in July 2014. There were 300 days to Expo and just recently the construction of Expo Gate was completed .
Piazza Castello (Castle Square) was pedestrianized not without heated controversy by citizens and committees which did appeal to the TAR (Regional Administrative Tribunal)
At one point on July 29 it was there. Everything had changed.
Mr. Cesare del Moro, a lawyer resident in Piazza with the study there was the first to notice it.
Everything had changed. Everything was white.
You know that chapter of Marcovaldo where he woke up and it was all covered by snow?
There were no more street level differences, it was all continuous, you could cross the space seamlessly.
It was inexplicable.
The phenomenon immediately attracted the attention of administration and community, they were looking for scientific understanding of its nature and dynamics.
So they proceeded with mapping of relief differences and tracing the boundaries of it. It was soon called #nevicata (snowfall) because of its characteristic of covering everything, making everything equal.
They formed groups of researchers and collected and examined samples of material of the #nevicata.
It seemed that #nevicata’s consistence was very similar to crushed limestone, also present in the pavement of Parco Sempione (Sempione Park next to the square).
The work also led to discovery of something resembling technological networks underneath the surface.
Detailed mapping of those networks was made to identify its positions and routes.
After the harmlessness of the phenomenon was confirmed, people began test and get familiar with it.
They were even making the postcards of #nevicata.
It became also a nice way of narrating the city of Milan in proximity of Expo.
Who had the right to manage and lead this thing?
A committee, #nevicata14, was set up and claimed the right to use
#nevicata as an opportunity to imagine a new idea of the city.
The citizens also got involved in work immediately. Not only those who lived in Piazza, the snowfall was colonized by an unprecedented amount of people.
#nevicata14 committee members counted about 372 people active both online and on site. All actions were experiments for a new way of managing public policies.
The debates soon became international. Even from far away people were caring to participate in discussion.
This got possible thanks to work in social media that was essential for study of the phenomenon.
Then, at some point, the committee decided that it needed a curator, someone who would become a guarantor of quality for urban practices that would happen on #nevicata.
It was proposed to David Byrne who agreed.
Then it was possible to negotiate an agreement with the public administration.
#nevicata was not dangerous, it was seen as an opportunity. So architectural studio of Guidarini&Salvadeo was asked to make a project of equipment to use it.
It was in 2014 and then till the end Expo #nevicata started melting.
Some elements began to come up to surface: the flower beds, green spaces.
Also were found the traces of a bike path of which existence everyone had forgotten as it was never used.
With the end of Expo #nevicata disappeared, but not the identity of the city of Milan.
The committee then decided to reconstruct it as #nevicata reloaded: studio Guidarini & Salvadeo took the charge.
Fortunately #nevicata was recreated, permanently in this case.
Guidarini & Salvadeo, Interstellar Raccoons:
Stefano Guidarini, Pierluigi Salvadeo, Marco Lampugnani, Yulya Besplemennova, Camilla Ceschi, Camilla Marini
Chiara Bianchi, Martina Pini, Marco Pioventini, Riccardo Spreafico, Luca Varvello, Lucalberto Bordignon, Marta Iole Procaccio, Clara Michielon