Electa architettura has published Compact City, a book by Cristina Donati about the New Civic Center in Scandicci (Florence), designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP). The book explores the principles and models of Founding Partner Richard Rogers' ideal of a "Compact City" based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. It is a multidisciplinary and holistic model that integrates urban planning, architecture and technology and has been theorized in publications and research such as the Reith Lectures and "Towards an Urban Renaissance", the Final Report by The Urban Task Force chaired by Rogers. This culture of the city is visible in the many award winning large-scale projects planned by RSHP worldwide.
The opening section of the book traces the evolution of ideas, political vision, and pivotal concept developments at RSHP from the Seventies to present day, ranging from the Centre Pompidou to city master plans for Barcelona, Paris, London and Shanghai. This section demonstrates how years of theory and practice find their synergic expression in the New Civic Center, which embodies the principles of the “Compact City” – dense, polycentric, multi-functional and well connected by public transport.
The second section is a case study of the New Civic Center at the heart of Scandicci, a town four miles southwest of Florence, which addresses the challenges of regenerating an existing suburb into a sustainable center that can thrive alongside Florence as part of a contemporary regional metropolis.
From the initial political will to the implementation strategies, innovative urban planning, and architectural and technological aspects of the project, the book outlines all the phases of development and construction, giving a voice to the key players who took up the challenge to stop the unruly urban sprawl and turn Scandicci from ‘case study’ to ‘sustainable urban model’; from a dormitory satellite suburb into a renewed city hub.
RSHP’s first completed project in Italy is the result of a unique dialogue between the practice’s design method and the Italian building industry against a back-drop of the most significant financial crisis since the Second World War.
At the heart of the project is a new public square, overlooked by the existing City Hall and three new buildings for Culture, Residential and Offices with provision for parking and retail. It has been delivered thanks to local political cohesion and a project financing plan that remained on time and within budget. This journey from master planning to design and delivery is presented by this book as a model for all those architects, researchers, policy makers and administrators involved in the debate on the future for the contemporary city.