Edition 2017

3 days of talks, 5 exhibitions, 40 guests — from city-makers and experts from large urban centers around the world to developers and cultural organizers active in Turin. But mostly 1,000 attendees of a program rich in events, talks and parties, from afternoon to night.
From the 13th to the 15th of October 2017, Torinostratosferica Utopian Hours festival has talked about projects, ideas and visions to reflect about the future of cities and imagine Turin at its best.
This was Torinostratosferica’s first public presentation; the event for our experiment of city imaging, held in the loft that functions as the association’s headquarters, was part of the city event “Torino Design of the City”, promoted during the XXX Congress of the World Design Organization.
Torinostratosferica is supported by Compagnia di San Paolo as part of ORA! Linguaggi contemporanei, produzioni innovative. We’d like to thank the sponsors of Torinostratosferica Utopian Hours: Arti Grafiche Parini, Fabbricanti d’Immagine, J.Gasco, Fondazione per l’architettura / Torino (cultural partner).
Friday, October 13th. The festival opening was first and foremost the chance to present our project. During Welcome to Torinostratosferica, Luca Ballarini talked about the need to create a collective experiment by imagining Turin at its best, without boundaries or clients, and about the current objectives of the initiative: to feed a necessary, but often neglected, reflection on our spaces and desires as residents. He was followed by Giacomo Biraghi, city expert and organiser of Secolo Urbano, with his The State of the City — a personal defense of a positive roles of cities, “black boxes” of collective wellbeing.
The first part of the day was closed by the first series of Bright mind, beautiful ideas — 10-minute mini-talks, each dedicated to the vision of a Turin personality (either by origin or adoption) to transform the city into a stratospherical one. The first local guest was Ilaria Bonacossa, director of Artissima the art fair, who talked about Turin as an international center for art and contemporaneity.
The following meeting was with the first foreign speaker: Darran Anderson, a writer and journalist based in London. Starting from his unique knowledge of the theme —Anderson is the author of Imaginary Cities, an imposing interpretation of urban thinking through the history— he inspired the public with images of great visionaries and architects that anticipated the future of cities with their intuitions. The talk was the ideal introduction to one of the festival’s exhibitions, Images of Utopian co-curated by Anderson and Torinostratosferica.
Darran Anderson is also one of the three Visiting Urban Explorer, foreign guests invited to freely discover Turin, and share their ideas to make it more attractive, with Lauren Elkin (from Paris) and editor Ricarda Messner (from Berlin). The video interviews, presented during the festival, are available on Torinostratosferica’s YouTube channel.
What to do with 6.5 million square meters closed the first day of talks with three high-level speakers, to address large projects of urban transformation and the challenges they imply. Philipp Bouteillier, CEO of the company that oversees the Tegel airport in Berlin, Carlo Masseroli, general director of Milanosesto, and Davide Canavesio of TNE, who is working on the ex Mirafiori plants in Turin, talked about their respective projects and how to create spaces with unforeseen functions.
Participants stayed in the loft until midnight, for the first Utopian Happy Hours, nightly networking and party sessions to explore the contents, visit the exhibitions and talk with the speakers.
Saturday, October 14th. A talk dedicated to city branding, connected to the Rebranding Torinostratosferica exhibition, opened the second day. The seven Italian graphic design studios involved in the project were represented by Paolo Palma and Alessio Romandini of Metodo Studio (Treviso), Marco Tortoioli Ricci of BCPT (Perugia), Gianni Sinni of LCD (Florence), Massimiliano Sagrati and Alfredo Laneve of Humus Design (Rome), and Luca Ballarini as creative director of Bellissimo (Turin). The designers took turns in talking about their approach to communication projects for places and cities.
The protagonists of the second session of Bright mind, beautiful ideas were the writer Gianluigi Ricuperati, the philosopher and entrepreneur Luca Morena, the digital innovation expert Lorenzo Benussi and the President of IAAD (Institute of Applied Arts and Design) Laura Milani. They talked about original production of culture and cultural heritage; spaces and innovation, not to be mistaken for progress; technology and education.
The following talk on Future Urban Trends was the occasion to discuss about the change and the quality of life. Starting from the ten trends selected in the exhibition, Giacomo Biraghi and Luca Ballarini talked with Josh Fehnert, Entertaining Editor at Monocle Magazine, commenting on the phenomena that —for better or for worse— impact the way we live, use and build cities.
The next talk, Night time is the right time, was also connected to an exhibition on the innovative management of nights in the cities, realised by London’s Built Environment Trust. The strategic director of the Trust, Lewis Blackwell, discussed night as a social and economic resource with Ella Overkleeft, co-founder of the Night Mayor Foundation, an organisation born in Amsterdam to promote the role of “night mayor” as a mediator between the communities affected by the city’s nightlife — a remarkably current theme.
In its closing talk Torinostratosferica met the Spanish director Victor Moreno, who works as a documentarist narrating spaces and urban exploration. In occasion of the festival, Moreno presented a preview of his last work, The Hidden City, entirely dedicated to the underground level, the “subconscious” of cities.
Sunday, October 15th. On Sunday afternoon the festival welcomed smaller visionaries too, with a dedicated workshop: in Imaginary cities for kids, more than twenty boys and girls created the buildings of their ideal city (houses, skyscrapers, bridges) with spaghetti and marshmallows — the results were incredible.
Meanwhile, the final day resumed with the last session of Bright minds, beautiful ideas with the ideas of “Torinesi” for a more stratospherical city. Alessandro Bollo, director of Polo del ’900, focussed on the economic and social role of culture. After the proposals from Paolo Verri, responsible for Turin’s first Strategic Plan and now in Matera to oversee the works for the European Culture Capital. Then it was the turn of Sanjay Sankar, an Indian student who started from his experience in Mirafiori Sud with association AllogiAMI, which helps foreign students access housing and community services, to imagine a more inclusive city. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Gianluca Dettori tried to shake a numbed productive sector, talking about the enormous physical spaces the city could give to startups and innovators.
The following meeting challenged a theme on which Torinostratosferica has been pressing since the beginning. Rivers. The city that in these years is acting in the most ambitious way on its rivers is undoubtedly Paris, with the pools in La Villette Basin, the riverside walkways and especially the plan to transform Seine in a swimming area for the 2024 Olympic games. All this was covered, from the inception of this political will to the practical strategies to realise it, by Cristophe Ribet, Deputy Director of the Environment and Water Department of Paris.
A last visionary project closed the talk program of the festival. Charlie Peel, sociologist and designer, presented the idea of transforming London into a national park, proposition born from a group of activists and now supported by the administration. He talked about it through his personal research and design work to map the London National Park City: the result is a beautiful map (sold during the festival) with thousands of parks, gardens, small green spaces and water traffic housed by the city — a small, but great example of ideal vision becoming a real opportunity.
The exhibitions and the book. With the talk program, over the course of the three days, the festival also offered some unreleased exhibitions on the city, set up for the occasions.
Images of Utopia, curated by Torinostratosferica with Darran Anderson (author of Imaginary Cities), retraced the history of urban imagination with a collection of ideal or visionary cities, an invitation to continue projecting forward and imaging.
Future Urban Trends showcased a selection of 10 interesting phenomena in the development of cities and their spaces and ways of life, conceived by Torinostratosferica with consultancy by Monocle Magazine.
The projects of Night time is the right time, the exhibition created by London’s Built Environment Trust, and presented in Italy during the festival, moved the conversation to nighttime with a collection of innovative ideas to rethink the night as an economic and social resource in 24-hour cities.
Outside, Visions from Torinostratosferica exhibited nine proposals or provocations emerged during the Torinostratosferica meetings, translated into renderings, drawings or images from nine architectural studios based in Turin. The setup, a route of small scaffolds, was curated by a group of students involved in the association through a workshop.
Finally, rebranding Torinostratosferica showcased the work of seven famous Italian graphic design studios, commissioned by the association to redesign Torinostratosferica’s logo, as part of an unusual city branding experiment. In addition to the exhibitions, visitors also discovered the ideas of our city imaging experiment, collected during sessions with tens of representatives of local creative industries.
In occasion of the festival, Torinostratosferica curated a free publication (with encouraged donation) that narrates the genesis of the project, its values, and ideas. A large map of the city welcomed the public at the doors, with the different proposals by Torinostratosferica for the spaces of the city.
Visitors could propose their ideas for the city as well, dropping them in the box for Fondazione per l’Architettura / Torino, interested in selecting the best ones and placing them under the attention of the administrations.
A voting booth was placed to express a vote for the mayor of Torinostratosferica. In this first edition, Italo Calvino (Invisible Turin Electoral Roll) won against the other candidates Paolo Soleri (Arcology and Liberty) and Carlo Mollino (Maximum velocity movement).