By Mauro Giordano
«It’s obvious that we’re talking about a global issue, but even municipalities can do a lot. In Bologna, for example, we could expand restricted traffic areas, increase cycling infrastructure, or connect large areas to be redeveloped with environment-related projects. I’m thinking about former barracks and military sites. Instead of leaving them empty, why not open them and convert them into green areas?»
Architect Mario Cucinella was marching with students and associations in today’s global climate strike.
Mr. Cucinella, why did you decide to join the Fridays for Future movement?
«My co-workers and I have been sharing this concern for some time now, and we stand by these kids who are marching today. I like the fact that it’s a form of spontaneous activism with a very clear message: some decisions can no longer be postponed. We need to give voice to the planet, which wouldn’t have the means to defend itself without».
What can architecture and urban planning do to protect the environment?
«I think they are very important. Especially if we think that cities belong to everyone, grown-ups and children. We need to change our mindsets, our way of planning cities but also of living in them. We need to adopt sustainable lifestyles that are respectful of resources. But a lot has been said already. Now, it’s time for action. Cities consume too much, and the pollution we have to withstand in the Po Valley proves this every day».
What do you expect the municipality to do?
«Bologna has often been one step ahead of other cities. It even has a climate change plan. But we need a collective project. More pedestrian areas, more emission checks, better public transport».
Where would you start? You had somehow already dealt with this issue with your city park in Piazza Santo Stefano.
«I don’t think we need a specific area. For example, there have been a lot of talks about the Prati di Caprara park. All in all, it’s about having a more global vision of the city. And while we wait for some areas – such as the former military sites – to be redeveloped, it would be nice to reopen them to the public, placing environmental issues and biodiversity under the spotlight».
You were mentioning public transport. What do you think about the fact that the tramway planning process is facing a lot of opposition? Or the debate around the Bologna bypass, which has been going on for twenty years?
«It seems to me that both these situations express the state our country is in. As for the tramway, I believe that a city’s administration must dare. If a major project like this leads to a collective improvement, then it needs to be done. I think that the tramway is the right choice, and politics need to see its ideas through».