A revitalizing vision for Lugano, Switzerland reconnects the city to its waterfront via mobility, beautifies it with floating gardens

In Switzerland, the Italian design firm CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and MIC-Mobility in Chain (MIC) have unveiled a new “vision plan” for revitalizing the city of Lugano’s waterfront.

The proposed plan envisions a new system of spaces for public enjoyment, featuring a floating garden island connected with a new autonomous water navigation system and reconfigurable roads capable of responding to people in real time.

The project aims to increase the connections between city and lake by overhauling the main traffic artery cutting through Lugano’s shore.

The vision addresses the current fracture between Lugano and its lake. The congested waterfront is partly pedestrianized, with a dynamic road system which can be configured with zero, one or two lanes at different times of the day, as well as shared surfaces with playgrounds and social gathering spaces.

The proposed regeneration was initially presented to private partners involved in the Lugano Living Lab, a collaborative platform to promote urban redevelopment through innovation in the area. Companies involved in the Lugano Living Lab and interested in the regeneration of Lugano expressed their support to the project.

At the same time, electric autonomous vehicles and micro-mobility solutions integrate private mobility. The dynamic waterfront also include a system of smart signage, responsive street furniture, infrastructure that produces clean energy from heat absorption, and a series of mobility hubs where people can select their preferred, shared mode of transport.

Lugano’s distinctive waterfront, nestled between the Swiss Alps and the glacial lake, is an opportunity to create a responsive edge of the city, experimenting with novel ways of blending nature and urban space,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

By analyzing mobile and traffic data and back-upping the mobility concept’s definition with a model-based scientific approach, we supported CRA’s urban vision of transforming the fracture of today’s Lakefront vehicular axis into a responsive space, hosting new mobility solutions and enabling the waterfront to adjust dynamically to the vibrant ecosystem of Lugano,” says Federico Parolotto, Senior Partner at MIC.

The vision plan for Lugano continues CRA’s research into reconfigurable urban spaces that leverage on new technologies to respond to people’s needs in real time. Previous examples include MIND, the former site of Milan’s 2015 World Fair, reimagined by CRA as an “urban living lab” – a new type of public space with plazas, vegetable gardens, offices, research centers, university faculties, residences and cultural spaces that will be integrated alongside areas for urban agriculture and the world’s first neighborhood planned for autonomous mobility.

Lugano is committed in redesigning the front lake and the city center for the future citizens, focusing on a growing attention to dynamic public spaces, the coexistence of different mobility vectors, the development of green areas, the role of the water in city life, the impact of the landscape, and much more,” said Marco Borradori, Mayor of Lugano.

The path began in 2018, when the Municipality went publicly with its vision and objectives, identifying innovation has one of the urban development key points. Next step will hopefully be an open competition to create a new master plan for the city of tomorrow. Our wish is that the vision could soon take the form of a concrete project,” he explained.

CRA has also collaborated with Alphabet’s sister company Sidewalk Labs in Toronto to develop a prototype of a flexible paving system that allows for a greater degree of flexibility in how a street is used throughout the day. Further, the vision plan for Lugano draws on research by the MIT Senseable City Lab on the urban impact of self-driving technology and shared mobility models.

All images courtesy of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati.

See CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati website.

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