The Jalan Besar Sports Centre multistorey carpark is now the venue of the 2019 (and sophomore) edition of the Singapore Urban Design Festival (#UDFSG), a placemaking festival conceptualised by LOPELAB to champion sustainable urban development. #UDFSG is part of the 2019 Singapore Design Week. More than a novel location, the venue choice stemmed from the urge to reclaim public spaces – something close to Petrillo’s heart.
A sneak peek into this year’s Urban Design Festival highlights.
"I started this in Italy a long time ago because of an internship,” shares Petrillo, who studied interior design and in 2004, joined esterni, an agency that develops cultural projects for public spaces. “This group of crazy people had a goal of improving my city, Milan, and its public spaces – not only from the design aspect, but also in terms of bringing the community together.”
His first project involved orchestrating a takeover of carparks in city centres and transforming them into Hammock Parks, where people could gather and interact over music and BBQs. “The message was simple: This is a space occupied by cars, they’re doing nothing there, why don’t we transform it by bringing in structures and programmes for people? It touched my heart – probably because it was my first project, and it was so beautiful and so successful – and I’ve just continued on that path.”
Lorenzo’s “Hammock Parks” transformed lifeless carparks into lively community spaces.
In a TEDx Talk he delivered in 2016, Petrillo raised the point about how gathering places like the piazza in Italy or the agora in Ancient Greece were once the heart of a city. People gathered for artistic, commercial or spiritual reasons. But a paradigm shift in the way cities were designed took place in 1933 with the Charter of Athens, a document published after the IV International Congress of Modern Architecture.
“Since the 1930s, when Modernist architects in Europe proposed a model to integrate the automobile – the most disruptive technology at the time – into the urban context, cities have been designed in the same way. Today, almost a century later, we’re in a completely different scenario and the model has lost meaning,” says Petrillo, referring to the current context of hyper-digital lifestyles which can lead to social alienation.
He elaborates. “As such, we need to re-design our cities – using technology, of course, but in a more human-centric way – to inspire socialisation.”