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Moving Culture is a project born in Brescia (Northern Italy) at the end of 2013. The project is supported by the Municipal Council of Brescia, Urban Centre, Brescia Musei, the universities of the city and Foundation Cariplo, which actually is the main sponsor. The main aims of the project are the development of a Cultural Map of the city and the study of a new perspective to the urban changes of Brescia. One of the most important events of the last years for the urban development was the inauguration of a light – metro line in March 2013. The Metro line crosses the city from the north to the centre and then to the eastern quarters.

The main question of the local administration was: “How the city will change in time thanks to the new public service?”. In just more than 4 years from the opening it’s already possible to appreciate some changes that are occurring in the real estate market, in the traffic, in the cleanness of the air and in the citizens’ perception of Brescia. But the local administration started to think that something more could be done.

The Urban Centre, an observatory focused on the connection between planning strategies and citizens’ needs, tried to answer to this question with the Moving Culture project. The idea was that the metro stations could become a new meeting point between the cultural offer of the city and the demand of the citizens.

The first step done was to start creating the cultural map of Brescia. In the first step we filled the map with more than 160 cultural associations that work in the city.

(Fig. 1 – the map with the cultural places; reference: Matteo Silini, Moving Culture: Sviluppo di una metodologia per la mappatura dei servizi culturali a Brescia; Brescia, Maggio 2016). A map that could collect not only traditional cultural places (like theatres, museums, cinemas etc.) but also all the associations that deal with history, nature, politics, society, sports, theatre, music, traditions, work, sustainability and ecology. We analysed, then, the position in the different quarters of the city and noticed that most part of the associations were located in the historical centre of the city, as we were expecting.

The second step was to study the relation between the metro line and the cultural associations mainly in three directions.

Firstly we analysed the accessibility of the cultural places. By considering the punctuality, the frequency, the reduction of time in moving through the city and the comfort of the service provided by the Metro we decided to set an “influence radius” of 650 m from the stations. The 61.1% of the associations present on the map were inside this influence radius. This means that it’s easier for users to reach, by means of the metro line, these cultural places than the other that are not included in the influence radius.

The newest aspect of the project was to use the Metro Line to diffuse the cultural proposal to the city. The idea is that the metro stations can become “boxes” where to create culture with, for example, site specific artistic installations, concerts, shows, exhibitions, interactive projects. So it is now possible to meet in some stations some paintings or pianos that everyone can play, readings from Dante’s Divina Commedia or popular dances, conferences or singers.

(Fig.2  – Some of the activities in the metro stations; reference: Giornale di Brescia). The metro line is no more just a transportation service, but it’s little by little becoming part of the cultural scenario of the city.

The third idea was, instead, to inform the citizens of the cultural offer of Brescia. Also culture is a service that a city can offer to her inhabitants, so it can be studied, promoted, discovered and planned. The idea of the cultural map was to reach the maximum number of people in the city and let them discovering new and unknown sides of Brescia. They can create a new demand of culture.  During our research we discovered a very active city in the cultural field and we discovered that each change we create in the urban asset can be useful not just for the aim it was built and thought, but is, for sure, a new challenge for the citizens. A task that must be incentivized and valorised by each local administration.

Author: Matteo Silini; student of UPM;

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