Piazza Novembre

Things have been busy the past week in the placemaking program. The last class-time was divided in two, with the first half focusing on Anirban Adhya’s chapter “Jane Jacobs and the Theory of Placemaking in Debates of Sustainable Urbanism”  from her book The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs, and the second half pertained to an ethnographic observation of the Piazza Novembre. Last Sunday was the fall clean-up/potluck in borgo bello, which I unfortunately was not able to attend, but looked to be highly successful.

As we discussed in class on Tuesday, Adhya’s argument focused on the validity of Jane Jacobs work and dissected her process for backing her presentation. As I wrote last week, I found Jacobs work to be easily agreeable but vague when it came to grey-area topics. Jacobs relied on empirical data, but I felt that her work lacked quantitative and concrete data. After reading Adhya’s piece, I still was not sold and thought that Jacobs researched needed to be backed by more reputable sources, however my opinion was swayed as we progressed in our discussion in class. I realized that Jacobs geared her argument with an appeal to ethos and pathos in a field that, at the time, was solely focused on the logos of city planning. Jacobs intended to present the most pragmatic approaches to city planning that went beyond the mere economic and political interests. She aligned herself very much with the post-modernist movement of the time and deconstructed the ideals of “cost-driven” incentives, and rather presented a case for accounting all aspects of sociological interaction in city planning. Her appeals were directed specifically towards emotions and community building.

The rest of class on Tuesday was centered on observing the types of interactions going on in the Piazza Novembre. It was an interesting activity that gave a new perspective as to how Perugia’s most popular space functions. Slowing down and observing the types of people that make up the space offers a unique insight as to how other spaces could replicate the same interactions. Most people walked in pairs and actually only used the piazza as a mechanism to get across town. Some people stopped to take pictures of the architecture, others chatted with friends on the steps of the cathedral, but most walked along the via de priori. Many people took advantage of the large, open air space and meandered around the square, and significant number of people took to the shops lining the outside.

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