Milan has been for too long now an enclave made by humans for humans. Bringing back biodiversity in Milan is becoming an inescapable urgency. Contemporary big cities are characterized by an introverted character which neglects anything natural and avoids the “contamination” with Nature, as Gilles Clement observed in his Manifesto of the Third Landscape. This segregation is nothing but the result of the myopia of the western culture, filtered by Aristotle’s distinction between humans – animals – nature; Humans are convinced for their superiority and their power over nature. The consideration of these topics is now a necessity in the design of a modern city, and specifically in the case of Milan. The most effective way to break down the rigid boundaries that urbanization has created, and allow biodiversity to enter the City of Milan, is through the use of the water system of the city; The canals. The existing manmade corridor along the city (the Navigli), carrying one of the few remaining natural elements in Milan can be transformed into a lung of life and spread biodiversity all over – after all, water and nature are absolutely interrelated. Moreover, water has defined Milan’s character from an early stage while the innovative dams system which Leonardo Da Vinci conceived, has been one of the greatest achievements of the region. Leonardo referred to Milan as “The city of Water” – a phrase which has long forgotten and along with it, part of the city’s identity. Aim of this project is to bring back this lost identity and revive the forgotten character of Leonardo’s City.
Combination, interaction, collision and movement are the essential ingredients to spread the complexity of life in its bio‑diverse form. Similarly, each of Rhizome’s moving platforms will have a self-sufficient energy and movement system, which along with an electromagnetic mechanism will allow or deny a physical match with other platforms. The physical boundaries of the canals [bank], combined with the unpredictable behaviour of the platforms will not only allow biodiversity to spread inside the city but also grant Rhizome to control itself, by developing a modus operandi. At the same time, the experimental character of such a project sets the humans in a mandatory observation and checking position for a smooth operation of Rhizome. Technology has become the tool for evolution strictly for humans, intentionally forgetting the potential advantages for other organisms of our planet and ecosystem. Rhizome seeks to change this imbalance, and decline a new binomial relation between technology and bio-equality through a high tech city model, like the Branzi’s “Quarta Metropoli”. Rhizome provides platforms with high tech sensor and detector units in order to allow a team of professional supervisors (through universities’ collaboration) to have an efficient feedback on the status of the project and any organisms or species involved. All the inputs collected from the devices are analysed by a central software that compares them with the databases of the research department of scientific studies in order to provide an ongoing encyclopaedia for both researchers and supervisors, making the project a town-scale culture medium. It means that on our moving temporary habitats we aim to detect species immediately to satisfy their primary needs.
The hub is the crucial part of the system, as is the place in which habitants of this new non-anthropocentric city come to coexist; humans, animals and nature under the same roof. Following these suggestions, Rhizome creates a new typology of environment made by fixed platforms with different sizes – on different levels. The aim is so nature can grow on these platform and host a variety of species. All the platform are designed based on the users dwelling and accessing them. Bigger platforms with much more vegetation will invite Humans, birds, foxes, bees, while other will be strictly for butterflies or smaller species. Platforms aim to host different environments, providing a composition of different landscapes, from the high or low vegetation, to the pond, from the nest to the burrow. The bigger they are, the more species are welcome to arrive. In this newly proposed oasis, humans are not excluded but are considered as one with the rest animals. They do not own the land, but they share it the same way the rest organisations do. Ascribing Pier Vittori Aureli’s theory about Utopia, Rhizome is realised as a places in which ‘project and construction, desire and satisfaction’ have no gap. The dream can easily shape into reality.