Ref: Porta S, 2008, The World’s Longest Mistake: Sustainable Urban Design and the Renovation of Social Housing Estates: Also a Disciplinary Problem, Urban scrawl, 2, pp.18-21.

Download the paper.

***   ***

Italy is not somewhere that you associate with modernist planning. However while most Italian citizens managed to avoided the modernists, the tenants of social housing estates were less lucky. In March 2006 the Politecnico di Milano organized a conference to look at ways in which these estates have been tackled across Europe at which David Rudlin from URBED was invited to speak. The project was organised by Sergio Porta and this is his keynote address to the conference translated from the Italian. In it he describes how the architects who created estates like the kilometre long block at Corviale outside Rome continue to be celebrated in exhibitions while the architectural establishment try and explain away why the celebrated estates did not work. At the same time an Italian new urbanism movement is emerging, as in the UK, that proposed a very different approach to these estates, something you would think to be self-evident to the Italians!