On 26 November 2008, a symposium on Urban Design and the City of the Future was held in Milan. The event was organized by the Fondazione Èuropa—Osservatorio sulle politiche d’ell’Unione and was held at the headquarters of the Umanitaria society, a former convent complex that has been turned into a very active centre for the arts and political action in the city of de Milan. The objective of the meeting was to table a debate about the development of the city of the future, with the aim of pinpointing key ideas to propose to the European Parliament for legislative initiatives. The event was promoted and coordinated by the Honourable MEP Cristiana Muscardini and her team.
In the framework of the presentation of recent experiences in the transformation of the city of Paris, Cairo and Milan (historic centre and social housing), Xavier Casanovas presented RehabiMed and its Method, drafted as a tool for rehabilitation and urban revitalization, and outlined the experiences carried out in Cyprus, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. This was followed by a lively debate centring on two core themes: the role of historic centres in cities of the future and the importance of rehabilitation in social housing.
The participants quickly agreed about the future of European cities and the need to focus efforts on the built city and the rehabilitation of existing buildings for greater energy efficiency, increased social cohesion within districts and improved quality of life for their residents in keeping with parameters of environmental, economic and social sustainability. This calls for housing policies that are far more committed than have existed to date, preventing the creation of ghettos and pockets of marginalized residents who cannot afford a decent home in an excessively liberalized market. Evidently, all of these statements have to be nuanced and need to adapt to differing realities and specific places. As regards countries in the south and east of the Mediterranean, it was also considered necessary to address government objectives, currently aimed at unsustainable development. It is important to strike a balance between new building and the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing constructions, before it is too late.
The debate was particularly valuable due to the prestige of the participants, including members of parliament from various EU countries and the Minister for the Environment of Albania. The debate and the papers presented are soon to be published and the conclusions presented to the Parliamentary Commission by Cristina Muscardini.