This paper explains and tries to apply the concepts of creative city in a local context, in order to create a creative milieu for the city of Piacenza. A creative city is an extension to the definition of a city in the sense that, it is not just efficient but is also able to create spaces within it that will satisfy the emotional and intellectual needs of the creative class. “A creative milieu is a place that contains the necessary requirements in terms of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure to generate a flow of ideas and inventions. A milieu can be a building, a street or an area and, ultimately, a whole city”. (Landry, 2008)
According to Charles Landry, in his book, ‘The Creative City’, “The Creative City idea advocates the need for a culture of creativity to be embedded within how the urban stakeholders operate.” He also says that, “In its original formulation, the ‘Creative City’ notion focussed strongly on the potential of the cultural industries as it seemed that cities needed to concentrate on what made them unique and special.” (Landry, 2008) This implies that a creative city must focus its energy on the upliftment of the creative class and one of the ways to do that is the formation of a creative milieu in strategic points of a city so as to attract the creative class.
To quote Landry, “The city wants dynamic thinkers- creators as well as implementers as creativity is not only about having ideas, it is about making them happen too. It requires a large formal and informal intellectual infrastructure.” Richard Florida says that the creative class is the backbone of a creative city which involves inventive and highly skilled intellectuals such as scientists, architects, engineers, creators, brain workers that need creativity to pursue their jobs. But, what is the meeting place for all these people? The answer is- Public space. “It is a quality of public space that it provides enlarged environments that are more suited for receiving creative initiatives; that favour social inclusion and accept diversity; that tolerate and integrate the most. Ideas, knowledge, action. In short, creation.”—- Creative cities perspectives
Through our demographic observations, geographic proximity charts and case studies, it is evident that Piacenza is a promising creative city, not only for the residents but will also attract the creative class from nearby places such as Bologna, Milan, Parma, etc.
Many scholars divided creativity into four elements: the person, the product, the process, and the environment or place (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; McCoy & Evans, 2002; Fleith, 2000; Woodman, Sawyer & Griffin, 1993).
1.1 SITE SELECTION AND REASONS
Location of the site- Waterfront of River Po, Piacenza
The reasons for our selection are –
Scope for utilisation of abandoned space- The site is underused by the inhabitants of Piacenza.
Quality of space- Located on the bank of River Po, the noise levels of surrounding environment are minimal, which is ideal for a Creative Milieu.
Accessibility- The site is accessible by public transport as well as private transport, and is 2.1 km away from the historic city centre of Piacenza.
Connections- The site is well connected and accessible by areas surrounding Piacenza by highways E70 and SS9. This will help attract the creative class from the nearby areas as well, leading to an expected economic and creative boost.
Expanse of space- Availability of vacant land also having structures for adaptive reuse and scope for waterfront development for the Creative Class, without the clash of activities was a catalyst in the selection of this site. The site also has scope for provision of parking.
Scope for development- The site has potential for development in terms of waterfront activities and functional aspects that could be carried out independent of the water body.1.1 PRELIMINARY OBSERVATION OF THE SITE
Reasons for obsolescence
Lack of interactive activities on site for the public of Piacenza, especially the creative class
Distance of the site from the active areas of the city may be considered far
Lack of maintenance and street furniture
Lack of guiding elements and signage that will lead people to the site from the main city
Less public facilities or lack thereof, for people to have a wholesome experience on site
Lack of safety measures taken during the night resulting in gross underuse of the site
1.2 POTENTIAL OF THE SITE TO BECOME A CREATIVE MILIEU Through our analysis, it can be said that the site shows great potential to be a creative milieu, provided some features can be modified/ enhanced.
Location- The site is located in such a way that it is accessible t to the residents of Piacenza and also to places around Piacenza, which will attract creative people.
Close proximity to creative class- The historic city centre of Piacenza is 2 km away, where there is concentration of creative class and tertiary activities.
Urban cultural resources- The heritage of Piacenza lies in its architecture, landmarks, squares, local and traditional festivals, arts and craft. Our site is close to the centre where these activities take place and is capable of providing place for hosting some. Our site is close to the centre where these activities take place and is even capable of providing place for hosting some. This is a potential attraction for the creative class that requires a space for exhibition of their talents.
Presence of natural site features- The waterfront makes the site a viable spot for attracting the creative class.
Presence of water sports facilities- Vittorino da Feltre, a water sports school is located next to the site. There is also a water jetty on site that can be used by public.
Presence of Car Parking Facility- The presence of parking facility is one of the key points for selection of the site. This enables us to make the site pedestrian friendly.
Multifunctional spaces- The site has potential for various creative activities to co-exist without clashing with each other because of the topography and creation of virtual barriers. The site also has open as well as closed spaces for interaction, which makes it usable in all seasons.
A creative milieu in the city of Piacenza would be a big step towards attracting not only the creative class that is local to Piacenza but also people from nearby cities of the Emilia- Romagna region, such as Parma, Bologna and Milan. This paper attempts to integrate a novel upcoming concept of a creative city that will satisfy the intellectual and creative public, into the city of Piacenza. This is expected to bring about a boost in the economy and serve as a case study for future projects of this scale.
The interventions proposed will help in finding solutions and will aid further development in the city because of the following-
The riverfront revitalisation through the formation of a creative milieu will help create a new identity for the currently neglected River Po and by extension, for the city itself. This will put Piacenza on the map as a landmark city.
The creation of a creative milieu will empower the creative class and in turn raise the economic output.