Ascoltando Bicocca - Urban affective reconnections.

A work on and with the Bicocca neighborhood that brings together sociology and theater. A project included within Lacittàintorno, a program of Fondazione Cariplo

The Bicocca area has, in recent years, been the stage for a great urban transformation. The project will take place between January and September 2022 involving young students, people over60, foreign nationals, small traders and artisans in concrete actions of re-signification of the area: the goal is to facilitate a process of recognition, "friendship" and "affective connection" by integrating different experiences, histories and approaches to living with each other.



The Biccocca neighborhood has undergone a major transformation from an area of large factories (Breda and Pirelli) to a hub for research and innovation: today, next to the new University of Milan-Bicocca Athenaeum, we find the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Hangar Bicocca and other forms of interconnected cultural industries. In this rapidly changing context, however, recent research still notes the presence of a heightened distance between residents and the University on the one hand, and between residents of different generations, backgrounds and cultures on the other.

What is a periphery? What is a margin? What are the neighborhood stories of yesterday and those of today?

The observer's gaze. The body in urban space. The decentralized living. Living in an industrial neighborhood. Changes over time. From the factory to the university, from the Pirelli district to Bicocca Village. The ghost town when classrooms close....

These are the themes of the project that, between January and September 2022, became the object of exploration, investigation and research for various social actors.

The project included several phases:

focus groups aimed at young people and adults, run by Bicocca University, on the emergence of socio-urban themes that investigate from this point of view the transformations of the territory;
theater workshop aimed at University students and residents on the body in urban space, the observer's gaze and decentralized living;
interviews with citizens over60, foreign citizens and small traders, aimed at collecting personal stories and points of view on the ways of inhabiting the neighborhood, its transformations, and social relations;
a live-site-specific walk through the symbolic places of the neighborhood where citizens and students were both active actors and participating spectators guided in the performance by the narration of an actress.
The collaboration with Bicocca University allowed for in-depth research on the connection and integration of different looks and approaches: the academic scientific one and that of territorial actions.

"Ascoltando Bicocca - Urban Affective Reconnections" has promoted a joint vision between the University and the territory; spread knowledge of the neighborhood's history among new residents; and helped increase the power of attraction of the Bicocca neighborhood outside of it, breaking down some of the barriers that still exist today and fostering contaminations, affective attachment and construction of local identity in the territories we inhabit.

The project was part of Lacittàintorno, the three-year cross-sector program
of Fondazione Cariplo, dedicated to urban regeneration and aimed at transforming suburbs, starting in Milan, into places of social aggregation through, among other things, cultural and creative interventions.