Milano International Architectural Workshop

Get into the forests


There are a lot of similarities between English and Italian languages coming from that common root that was, in the ancient past, Latin both as a language and as a common culture. Like in Italian, the English noun ‘forest’ [Italian ‘foresta’, from the Latin ‘forestis (silva)’] indicates a wood of trees outside the walls of the city, something dark and far away, something apart, something ‘foreigner’ [in Italian it sounds ‘forestiero’, but the root is the same Latin ‘foras’ that means ‘outside’]. Citizens always had fear of the foreigner coming from the forests, from the unknown, from places with other cultures and languages.

Now it’s time to get inside the forests, to reinvent us.


The inspirational subject of the second edition of the Milan International Architectural Workshop is ‘forests’. The green forests are the allegory that drives the outlines of this programme, devoted to analyze and to find sustainable solutions for living in a metropolis.

Let’s take forests as a metaphor: we want to explore the unknown and to experiment new ways to live the contemporary city learning from forests. We want to take this world ‘outside’ and make it, finally, part of our life. 


2011 is the UN International Year of Forests, and its principal aim is to alert about real forests situation as urban settlements and industry have big impact to these sensible natural communities. The UN International Year of ‘Forest’ follows the UN Year 2010 dedicated to ‘Biodiversity’, a way to recall how these two subjects are related and important for the natural equilibrium on Earth.

Forests were first a place where to find easily food, then construction material; after they were transformed in land where to build, and finally they gave and still give wood as a fuel for empowering industries. Forests were always related with the humankind evolution and only in the last centuries become something apart from our life. Contemporary towns live on the contradiction between built environment and natural environment as if they were part of two separates worlds. But we know we have only one planet to share and that any urban activity produces an ecological footprint that has direct impact on the natural aspects of life and its resources. We need to beware about this and take some decisions.


MIAW.2 will investigate with multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary tools, merging together subjects as architecture, architectural interiors, landscape architecture, urbanism and sustainable technologies inviting personalities that through a design work will define how to mediate a new equilibrium in contemporary urban settlements, exploring new ways to live the environscape we all know.

Forest recalls of verticality, city could be an artificial forest, outskirts are a possible forest, green architecture defines a sustainable town, the city is breathing; we live spaces on a cement valley, we created plateau for new artificial forests. More, is green the ultimate infrastructure?, built vs. un-built, forest vs. meadows; we need parks. And more, green lofts for a new way of life, we love green and natural materials, what are the sustainable dimensions for the contemporary way of life?, what are the new geometries for living? And more again: forest and woods as part of an urban plan?, forestry is part of agriculture, how evaluate the resilience in the nowadays urban communities, what are the new planning parameters for the contemporary town. And more, green could be a label?, green is as a target, which are the new materials and in what are they natural?


Participants to the MIAW.2 are invited to solve through design these questions. Or maybe propose through design new questions.


MIAW.2, playing with the metaphor of forests, aims to generate 10 new visions to explain nowadays Milan and its next future.


MIAW.2 design areas will be open spaces, spots, roofs, terraces and gardens inside the Politecnico di Milano’s Leonardo Campus. Workshop projects will be developed and proposed in several different ways (in example: simple manufactured constructions as architectural models, garden plots, real scale prototypes, public furniture, little constructions…) to illustrate new ideas and proposals to bettering the Athenaeum life through sustainable green design.

All the MIAW.2/forests design results will enrich the Leonardo Campus environscape.


The built installations will be property of the Politecnico di Milano and they will last in loco till their consumption.



©MilanoInternationalArchitecturalWorkshop.2/forests-Politecnico di Milano 2011