Q'Art Isola - Milano

Isola Art & Community Center: a Center for Art and the Neighborhood

The project is promoted by Isola dell’Arte, the “I Mille” committee, and by the Genitori Istituto Comprensivo F. Confalonieri association. It is based on the unconditional defense of the quality and quantity of the Isola’s public spaces: this is to say, reserve to bikers and pedestrians public access to the parks in via Confalonieri; rehabilitate and improve the existing parks; remodel the “Stecca” building, and join the existing parks with the future ones planned by the City for the Isola-Garibaldi area. With small yet meaningful modifications, these projects could be realized without forcing an entire neighborhood to give up a way of life it has always known and felt as inalienable.

The Center envisions to obtain the rehabilitation of the parks through Public Art projects, all being supervised by the Art Center and the neighborhood. The “Stecca” building should be remodeled and should become an original multifunctional center, integrated with the neighborhood and the city. The “Stecca” building should become a “living” place where at any time people of different ages, backgrounds, wants, and interests can meet. Five revitalizing functions could be as follows: the spreading of artisan workshops, community centers, contemporary art, cultural and social associations, and the development of new recreational facilities (restaurants, cinemas, etc).

The Isola Art & Community Center encompasses two of the five functions listed above involving the “Stecca” building. These include namely a community center, and an art center - which will extol a kind of togetherness useful for the neighborhood and the art center.
The residents of the neighborhood (families, senior citizens and children) need three different types of spaces: a wide, multifunctional gathering space for parties, assemblies, conferences and the like - with cooking facilities; a medium sized space for various activities; and a small meeting room. In order to facilitate access to children and senior citizens, and to promote the usage of the parks during the fair seasons, the first two spaces should be located on the ground floor. The “Stecca” building should be considered as an integral part of the management of the two parks. Opening up the center of the building should create a link between the two parks; and at the same time, the two parks should also be accessible from the future recreational spaces.

The whole of the second floor and its open spaces should be dedicated to artistic research and planning. It should contain areas for exhibitions, meetings, administration, technical workshops, storerooms, cafes, and bookshops. In order to manage this “Center for the Arts and the Neighborhood” an adequate administrative structure is being created to guarantee the coordination and the independence of every activity. This new kind of center will be defined through a public and collective process among professionals, neighborhood associations, and single individuals eager to work on an experiment, an experiment which has its roots in the solid experiences and the positive results of the last few years.

Bert Theis, Alberto Pesavento (translated from the Italian by Raphael Amabile)

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