dijous, 29 de novembre de 2012

22@ district and Bicocca district: two hangars in two ex-industrial areas

The 22 @ district can be compared to the Bicocca District in Milan. These are two areas that originally were not included in the city. With the industrialization they became the industrial district a bit far away from the city centre.

The “Bicocca” was the heart of the industrial area that was rapidly set up in Milan between the town of Sesto San Giovanni and Greco in the early Twentieth century. For many decades it has been the symbol of the lombard industrialization, the main economy power of Italy. In fact, since the gradual expansion of the city centre of Milan, the norther countryside  of the city were gradually integrated into the urban plan, starting host a lot of factories that have characterized the territory of Bicocca for a long time (one of the most popular establishment  was Pirelli).
the establishment Pirelli in 1922
Since the end of the Seventies, particularly after a general reorganization of the main industrial companies, the industry establishments  gradually moved from the urban areas to the suburbans. The district of Bicocca was particularly affected by this phenomena of de-industrialization and relocation, as it happened to the 22 @ district in Barcelona.

Since the Eighties, with the gradual disposal of the production establishments, was assigned to the Italian architect Gregotti the recovering project of this area. In 1986, Pirelli started a project to redevelop the area.

Gregotti's project for Bicocca district
The resulting "Progetto Bicocca" (Bicocca Project), which affected an area of 960.000 m2, was the largest urban transformation project in the history of Italy, and the second in Europe, after that of Berlin. The prominent results of this project were the construction of a large university district (called University of Milan Bicocca), the theatre of Arcimboldi and a lot of residential buildings. That was more or less the same that happened to the 22 @ district where it has been built many residential buildings designed by leading architects like Chipperfield and Ferrater.
residential building-Chipperfield 

From the urban point of view  there is a significant difference between the urban plan of the two districts: the 22 @ area it was included historically in the Cerdà plan and for that reason, nowoday we can perceive as an integral part of the city, the incubator of the future expansion of Barcelona because of its attractiveness and sperimental architectures. On the other side, the “Bicocca” was never included in the urban design of Milan and for that we can say that it is still a place physically and socially peripheral respect to the city center. The reorganization and reactivation of the 22 @ district is still in progress and what I hope is that this ex-industrial district doesn’t turn into a “dead area” as it  happened to Bicocca, that during the day is alive because of the students of the university but in the night still looks like a dead city.

A common aspect that we can found between Bicocca and 22 @ district is the similar way with that they are trying to give a new function to the former industrial plants, maintaining its structure and shape. In particular, the industrial nature of the buildings seem to be phisically and socially suitable to host spaces of art. Those places that once were the spaces for the production of farm machinery (factory Ansaldo Breda) or tissues (textile factory of Marqués de Santa Isabel), now they are becoming sites of artistic production! In fact we found in both these district the same building typology, “the hangar”.

Hangar in Can Ricart
The Hangar that we visited in Barcelona is located in the Can Ricart complex, an industrial environment within the Poblenou neighbourhood. The architecture is from the mid 19th Century, and was originally designed for the textile industry. Up until the closure of industrial activity in 1991, different companies established themselves in the building that Hangar now occupies. today this hangar is a centre of artistic production, where artists can work and the foreignes can be hosted.

Hangar Bicocca
At the same time we have in Milan the HangarBicocca building, which history is closely bound up with Breda, a company founded in 1886 by the engineer Ernesto Breda, who moved the business to the suburb of Bicocca in 1903. In the early 1980s the Ansaldo Grouptook over Breda, and around the same time the gradual process of decommissioning the old industrial areas began, more or less totally urbanising the Bicocca neighbourhood. After a decade of neglect, HangarBicocca (formerly Ansaldo 17) was finally purchased by Prelios, formerly Pirelli RE, which in 2004 decided to transform it into an exhibition space for contemporary art. 

It is a space for the production, showing and promotion of contemporary art, with a special receptiveness towards a diverse range of visual and performance art disciplines. All the exhibitions and events presented at HangarBicocca are distinguished by their research and experimental nature, with particular attention being given to site-specific projects capable of relating to the unique features of the exhibition space. While preserving the industrial architecture of HangarBicocca, it has made new spaces available to the public, along with additional services such as, for example, the setting up of teaching workshops and creative games for children and young people, in an attempt to attract a younger public to contemporary art through fun activities; a poly-functional area open mainly for the consultation of art reviews, books and catalogues.

It was for me surprising found in that two different cities the same building typology, “the hangar”, located in these so similar contexts!

the interior of Hangar Bicocca, mostly an exhibition centre 
the interior of Hangar in Can Ricart: mostly a centre of artistic pruduction