How can transitional communities take care of their host neighborhood?

Cities are experiencing a growing social crisis: lacking in social cohesion; insufficient public services; decreasing support by traditional social forms (as families and neighbours); growing sense of loneliness. The gap between the growing demand and the shrinking offer of care is the basis of the present care crisis. To overcome this crisis a brand-new care systems has to be imagined and enhanced. It is possible to imagine communities of care and their socio-technical enabling ecosystems, capable to sustain and coordinate people’s caring and collaborating capabilities and doing so, creating new forms of care-related communities.

This process exacerbates in those areas of the city that suffer sudden transformations and even more where a large chunk of the city change its function.

This was the case of Bovisa district in Milan that undergone a dramatic change in the 90s’ when the dismissed industrial area (Ex-gasometri) left place to the current Bovisa Politecnico University. In the words of one of the professor at Politecnico “it’s like if a massive alien spacecraft has unexpectedly landed”.

This is considered a general upgrading of the district but no doubt resulted in a subsequent change in the social life.

The newly established School of Design attracted some 4,000 students which increased the demand for daily, standard, low cost services. That is what today Bovisa offers for the most, since the majority of the students live somewhere else. When students are off the district it changes its face: bookshops, fast food, bars, copy centres are closed and leave the district lifeless.

There are good practices for people aggregation like the local weekly street market, the cultural association Scighera, the social initiative Coltivando or the multiservice cafè Mamusca, but students show little interactions with it. It seems a missed opportunity.

The aforementioned pushed the Politecnico University to challange itself asking “how can our student transitional community and residents develop positive interactions and give new life to the district?”.

This is what the course – PSSD 2017 Networks of Care Collaborative encounters in/around the Bovisa campus – is about.

Ezio Manzini and Liat Rogel, with Susanna De Besi wanted this to be the focus of their students’ work for this year. And they suggested the students to interact with the edgeryders community as their works progress.

Today introduction ended with the following questions to students:

Referring to your everyday interactions with Bovisa, when are you in need for care?  And when are you willing to provide care to somebody else?

@Ezio_Manzini @Social_Open_Campus @Rossana_Torri @Liat @Social_Open_Campus

Group 2 - Report

Day 1

After a brainstorming, we found out 4 main areas of interest in the field “need for help”:

  1. Avoiding loneliness and increasing safety;
  2. Triggering motivation for exercising together;
  3. Improving the efficiency of residence resources;
  4. Overcoming cultural gaps by creating situations that make locals and foreigners interact/teach/learn/share.

This was our main intention:

“We would like to create an atmosphere that helps Bovisa inhabitants to overcome cultural stereotypes. We plan to build situations that make them interact/teach/learn/share with international neighborhood, feel familiar with each other and increase the feeling of safety”.

Day 2

Starting from these 4 main areas we tried to understand the situation from two different points of view: people living in Bovisa (families, children…) and Politecnico students (mainly those who live in Bovisa).

After defining all the different situations we made 5 main clusters:

  1. Understanding each other;

  2. Lack of structures/facilities;

  3. Security;

  4. How locals perceive students;

  5. Perception of the district.

Afterwards we made another brainstorming on how the situation could change starting with the question “What might be done/improved?” and we arrived to many interesting ideas which derive from the 5 main clusters.

We finally chose to focus on a service that allows exchanges using an online platform. It will make people talk and interact in order to exchange cultural knowledge and everyday goods.

We decided to focus on families with children and young generations living in Bovisa, since they are the future of this district.

To sum up, our intent is to push students to give what they can offer very easily, which is their knowledge.

For knowledge we mean:

  • Language (both speaking and grammar skills);

  • Common subjects (for school education);

  • Hobbies (instruments, sketching, writing, and so on);

  • Cultural knowledge (movies, cooking, clothes…)

This last one is the link between the first actors (students) and the second ones (families) since they both can join this kind of activities not for a specific need but just for personal enrichment and for meeting new people in the district.

What families can give, on the other side, is more about involvement (for example sharing a dinner with a student - both Italian or foreigner one) and little everyday goods to share/lend.

Connecting People Through Games

Day 1 - 8th may 2017

At the beginning of the project, we started by a brainstorming session about the needs of the students in a usual working/studying day and what they can offer to Bovisa inhabitants.

Subsequently, we clustered the needs and the offerings in categories such as social interaction, accessibility to information, safety and cultural sharing activities, helping with knowledge, company and then we decided to split the team into two groups: one focusing on the existing practices in similar contexts, and the other one focusing on the campus potentialities in locals perspective.

In the end, we came up with the idea of connecting students and people from Bovisa’s neighborhood, building a micro-interactions-based economy in which people can exchange their know-how, their time and their design skills to improve knowledge or activities in the area. Examples of interactions can be related to helping people or students in their daily life in Bovisa or using design practices to solve problems for locals.

Day 2 - 9th may 2017

We tried to illustrate the future of Bovisa’s neighborhood, collecting our positive visions about micro-interactions and care-related actions. As a consequence, we identified the most promising field of action, which revealed the night life in the neighborhood.

Then, we analyzed the different aspects of the idea, considering the activities, the places, and the actors involved and we finally came up with our main idea: connecting students and locals in the late evening/night through games which are co-designed with the aim of exchange cultural useful insights; overcoming international barriers and having fun together.

The place will be the neighborhood of Bovisa itself, including pub, bars and the streets, where people can go around and have fun together re-conquering their city and establishing a magic circle similar to a village dimension.

Group 8: Exchange Places

Day 1:

We thought about the needs for care that we had as students and then thought about how we could provide care to someone else. From the need of care we can highlight the need of company when dealing with loneliness and the need for help with the language barriers we face everyday. Respecting the opportunities for providing care we can say that we thought about volunteering or giving situational Italian classes to the people of the Bovisa and Dergamo neighborhoods and also skill sharing with them.

In this first step we envisioned a place where people could share their leisure time to help someone else. A place where managing time is key to achieve a care exchange. We would like to find a way to integrate different cultures in the Bovisa neighborhood and to make it last, even after the initial buzz.

Day 2:

In Bovisa districts there are a lot of interesting shops for Politecnico students, but nobody knows about them because the most popular streets among students are always the same two main ways which link the university with the Bovisa station. For this reason our proposal aims to connect the needs and the desires of both students and shop owners. Students could experience the shops as places to work on their projects, get help from experts and use professional tools, while employees could acquire more visibility and get more customers. All this could happen through a powerful exchange of passions, knowledge and skills, in a stimulating atmosphere to co-work and to share meaningful stories. We want to give to Bovisa districts a new energy and vitality.

Welcome to all!

Dears, happy joining on edgeryders, I am Noemi, community manager and happy to assist if you need help navigating our web platform.

In order to draw attention of someone to what you are writing make sure to use the pinging options (@ followed by username and a blank space), for example: welcome @Group_3 , @Workshop_Group4  , @Social_Open_Campus and so on.

If everyone agrees that more interactions are needed with the local community, does this mean that you yourselves would be willing to spend your free time in other company than the usual? (maybe elderly, families, children). Think about it. After all, you are residents there too, so you are in the position of both designers and “partners” or “contributors” in the service you design. I am also wondering if students who live in Bovisa have identified different priorities than those who only study there?

Group 6

Day 1

What are the need of students when they first come to Bovisa?

With this question in mind, we set out to brainstorm on this topic, covering topics as dear as food, housing and facilities, moments of relax and moments of hard work.

We then mapped out our needs in 3 categories: Practical, Personal and Social.

We discovered that most solution share a practical component, that is indeed essential when trying to sort out how to move in a new, foreign environment.

After brainstorming in, on and for Bovisa, we agreed on some indisputable truths about it:

FACT 1: Bovisa is a meltin’pot.

People from many nationalities live in this neighborhood and many exotic shops can be found walking in the streets. Here, people can find at a short distance Chinese takaways, Italian pizzerias, Japanese all-you-can-eats and Indian restaurants (just to name a few).

Unfortunately, the wide geographical network does not convert into effective connections.

That’s why we asked ourselves:

How may we foster cultural exchange and engagement among different nationalities?

FACT 2: Bovisa is undefined.

In the past, it was an industrial powerhouse. Today it’s something different, difficult to define.

It lacks the identity that other areas have successfully established,

which also reflects on the feelings that people share towards their place.

For that reason, we believe that Bovisa needs to state new, authentic values

to make its way to the minds and hearts of people.

That’s why we asked ourselves:

How may we shape a relevant and unifying image for this area?

Day 2


Most social innovation projects start from the bottom-up, engaging communities by leveraging common interests. In the same way, we believe that designers should start at the ground level when dealing with the complexity of social organizations: before looking at needs and solutions, they should start from the definition of a system of shared values.

In line with the participatory nature of the topic, we intend to create a platform that uses co-design to research, define and communicate a new authentic identity for the Bovisa area.



Connecting students with the outside community


We would like to connect the university with the neighborhood through activities that can be useful for both parties. Bovisa is a neighborhood that has many real problems that students can solve or make it visible. Our idea is that the people’s needs or “projects brief” come from the interaction between students and community. Needs are based on problem that community faces every day. Community care about that problems and is interested in solving them. Nowadays we have students that go out of the university just to collect information and then come back to develop in a “secret” way they project they are working for. We would like to change the current design process through activities such as co-design to make feasible our project and make the people of Bovisa feel part of the “team”.


The people of the neighborhood offer us information about the real problems present and we provide them with solutions. Since design students work on different topics every year there is the possibility to develop projects from different areas of expertise and give to teams the opportunity to learn on the fly and testing their ideas in the real world.


We would like to achieve that goal through the involvement of some fix representative of University such as professors. They work as facilitator in order to promote this projects to different courses or levels. We would create an Identity for this initiative in order to make it visible and recognizable. By using a common platform, we want to show what we can do for them and stimulate the conversation about what could be done. Students will have the possibility to organize activities such as focus group, workshop, games etc. to collect knowledge and involving people. Exhibitions of the projects in the neighborhood could be the possibility to share the outcome with the community and make an evaluation of them. In this way, there will be the opportunity to take the most suitable solution and implement them.

Group 9: From a Makers space into a Home

Day 1

We started with a brainstorming stating our needs as students and the needs of the residents to have a clear vision how to link the two together. As designers we clustered the needs into recreational activities and education. Culture can be a key factor in bringing residents of Bovisa together with the students.

Day 2

After the first discussion, we decided to focus on the resources present in the neighbourhood. We felt the renovation of the cultural space Nuovo Armenia can be a projects bringing different cultures together. Our vision is to make the house of Associazione Nuovo Armenia a maker-space in Bovisa, where people can connect and different cultures can meet in order to increase the wellbeing of the neighborhood. Students and residents will have the possibility of co-working to create a place where they are not just guests but which is truly their own.

Design students can offer their skills to the locals and together they build furniture, decoration, as well as interior and exterior elements of the place. In return students have the chance to improve their practical skills and exhibit their work.

Group 9: From a Makers space into a Home, Day 3

First we set the different touch-points of the encounter with how to reach the different stakeholders (Residents, associations and Students). We then created a timeline of the steps starting from knowing about the makers space to having it rehabilitated.

We see a lot of potential in co-working together and how it can build a community. We tried to imagine a possible encounter by creating a storyboard of Anna an Italian Design Student from Politecnico with Nour a Resident of Bovisa originally from Morocco and how working together they were able to create a chair for Nuovo Armenia’s space and build a bond.

Day 3 - Group 5

First step: stakeholders analysis and system map 

We tried to define all the stakeholders involved in our project in order to discover what kind of relationship there could be among them and what they can offer to each other.

Second step: Comparison

We are working on the possibility to open the design process to all the citizens. In order to envision our proposal and discover what are the values and touchpoints that make the new idea more valuable compared to the old one, we decided to envision both. We discovered that in the process we use nowaday, the citizen is involved only during the research and in a passive way.

step 3: The final idea 

Give to the community the possibility to discover and participate to the design process in order to transform the citizens’ needs into design opportunities. Associations work as a facilitators to provide main problems faced by people everyday. Students work to solve it by proposing feasible ideas that will be presented through interactive exhibition experiences. These physical touch-points lets the citizens the chance to evaluate concepts, understand the situation and feel them part of the team. In this way the outcome will be a possible solution that could be implemented in the neighbourhood.

What makes our idea different and valuable?

  • Interactive Exhibitions: for us is really important have a place in which people can discover what usually happens inside polimi. Those events will be our physical touchpoints to present to the community our ideas/mock-up/prototype and receive feedbacks. For the community there will be the possibility to evaluate our proposal and promote the development of the best one.

  • Brief from the community: Students will design solutions according to the  needs that come up from the neighbourhood. Associations and professors will work as facilitators: they will transform community suggestions/needs into brief  to work on.

From the idea to the video storyboard

Finally we defined the video storyboard that rapresent the way in which we will talk to the community to present our idea.

Day 3

Today we analyzed deeper the How, Who and What of our idea and we developed it better, defining the main actors, i.e. families with children, students and the already existing communities, and the stakeholders involved in the system such as students, teachers, parents, children, location owners and, finally, the public administration.

Afterward, we started thinking about the visual outcome, its style and the materials needed to realize it (paper sheets, cardboards, colors). We then created the storyboard of the video, focusing on our vision of the future and a possible way to concretely express it.

In the end, we prepared the props (drawings, supports, mini posters etc) and, before shooting the video, we realized three teasers to introduce our work and build the hype in the platform.