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OST Activities and research

Besides the monitoring of the cantonal territory (funded by Ticino Canton) the observatory carries out projects and researches on topics related to spatial development and urban space mainly on behalf of public and private entities or NGO. The SNSF and other Swiss and European institutions of cartography, urban geography or spatial development also often fund the Observatory projects and researches.

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  • Cartography and GIS

    Webmapping

    Since 2020 the observatory has been expanding its know-how of interactive digital cartography, primarily through the use of ArcGIS-online software (©ESRI). Web-mapping techniques allow the users to directly interact with the map, querying and visualize geodata information online.

    There are currently three web-mapping projects underway:

    • "Ticino a te": the map of local food producers. OST in collaboration with the Centro di competenze agro-alimentari Ticino (CCAT) of Sant'Antonino has created the Web-app “Ticino a te” with the purpose of identifying and promoting the local producers and their products present in their agro-alimentary network.
      Link: www.arc.usi.ch/ticino-a-te
    • "Zone di attività del Cantone Ticino". OST has developed an interactive Web-map as a graphic support to the article “Le zone di attività del Cantone Ticino: cifre e tendenze”, published in spring 2021 on the magazine Collage - FSU, which allows to easily identify the working areas of Canton Ticino and the main information regarding the number of employees and companies of the selected area.
      Link: www.arc.usi.ch/zone-attivita-ti

     

    The Geographical Information
    for Public Space
    Investigation (GIPSI) tool

    The GIPSI tool combines a traditional GIS approach with a qualitative analysis of public space, with the aim of characterizing and qualifying the public spaces of peri-urban settlements in a simple and systematic way. It is applicable at a local scale and allows mapping public spaces extent, typology and qualities. The GIPSI tool is mainly addressed to policy-makers, urban planners and residents, and so it could potentially implicate an interdisciplinary participation involving different actors for public space evaluation, promotion and enhancement.

     

    Thematic cartography
    The map as a model
    and a symbolic mediation

    Cartography is an essential working instrument: OST in its publications widely uses thematic maps at different geographical scales, trying to keep up with the times. The thematic map is an abstract model of geographic space, which, however, allows visualizing events or phenomena not directly visible in the landscape, such as population aging or migration balance. It is a model that helps us if we know how to use it, and misleads us if we abuse it, because it is a symbolic transposition between the numbers in a database and symbols represented on the map. This involves a process of selection (of the information to be represented), choice and composition of the map elements (point, line and surface). The map acts as a symbolic mediation between the observer and the statistical reality. OST, in its publications, proposes three types of “classic” thematic map:

    • Choropleth maps (usually with relative values, in % or in density);
    • Symbols Maps (usually in absolute values);
    • Line maps (representations of flows and movement networks).

     

  • Public Space

    Peri-urban settlement’s public spaces: a tool for their investigation

    Abstract: How can we characterize “peri-urban settlement’s public spaces” and how can we measure their quality and potential? This paper offers a methodological tool for their investigation, applied to a case study in southern Switzerland (Rivera sector settlements, part of Monteceneri municipality in the Ticino Canton). The Geographical Information for Public Space Investigation (GIPSI) tool combines a traditional GIS approach to a qualitative examination of public space, with the purpose of classifying, evaluating, and comparing peri-urban public spaces in a simple and systematic way. The dynamic nature of its qualitative components allows adapting this analysis tool to different perspectives and research goals. GIPSI gives a general overview and a clear evaluation of public spaces configuration in peri-urban areas, emphasizing their improvement potential, and their differences and similarities. For our case study, the tool highlighted that traditional settlement spaces have a better quality than recent residential ones, although both have an improvement potential. We believe that this type of analysis is beneficial for other similar peri-urban contexts in Switzerland and abroad. Hence, GIPSI is a starting point for the revaluation and promotion of public space; it is mainly addressed to policy-makers and urban planners, but it could potentially implicate an interdisciplinary participation at different scales involving local authorities and residents.

    Testo completo:
    Buob, G., Torricelli, G. P., Ponzio, S. and Vallenari, L. (2022) “Peri-urban settlement’s public spaces: a tool for their investigation. A case study in southern Switzerland”, Italian Journal of Planning Practice, 12(1), pp. 20-42

     

    Urban mobility and public space

    Abstract: Public space and mobility are two challenging topics in many contemporary cities. These topics give rise to important questions such as how does the element of public space affect the sustainability of urban mobility in contemporary cities? And how does facilitating mobility contribute to the livability of the public realm? The purpose of this paper is to attempt to answer these questions. On one hand, the paper explores the relationship between public space and urban mobility in the contemporary city, specifically by addressing the extent to which urban mobility can create better public spaces and even assist in producing a more sustainable model of mobility. Although ignored for a long time in the discourse on urban planning, the relationship between public space and urban mobility has the potential to create livable cities. Indeed, the use of public space by walking and cycling contributes to economic, environmental and social sustainability. Hence, together with economic, ecological and social indicators, public space and urban mobility also constitute relevant city components, when measuring a city’s sustainability performance. On the other hand, this paper seeks to suggest a set of measures related to public space and soft mobility that can be integrated into an already existing set of indicators commonly used to measure urban sustainability. In this regard, the paper contributes to the debate surrounding the need to invest more in public spaces and at the same time suggests to planners and policy makers that it is necessary to develop international measures for the evaluation of urban mobility and the sustainability of public space.

    • Testo completo: Ravazzoli, E., Torricelli, G. P. (2017) “Urban mobility and public space. A challenge for the sustainable liveable city of the future”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(2), pp. 37-50.

    Small City Public Space

    Nel 2014 all’interno dei lavori accademici dell’OST, in collaborazione con il Politecnico federale di Losanna (EPFL), è stata realizzata una tesi di dottorato sul tema dell’importanza dello spazio pubblico per la piccola città.

    Riassunto. La piccola città rappresenta una situazione urbana particolare. Nel corso del tempo questa realtà, caratterizzata in apparenza da una ristrettezza di risorse, ha subito delle trasformazioni significative innescate dalla globalizzazione: se prima rappresentava il gradino più basso di un’ipotetica gerarchia urbana, oggi s’approccia alle grandi città in termini comparativi e non solo di dipendenza. La piccola città è in costante ridefinizione e sembra oscillare tra uno stato d’intensità urbana, che la rende dinamica, diversa, imprevedibile, vitale, intrigante, unica e competitiva; e uno d’inconsistenza urbana quindi prevedibile, statica e monotona. In quest’ottica, è proprio lo spazio pubblico che è in grado di far tendere la piccola città in direzione di una delle due propensioni.

     

    I giovani e la città

    L’obiettivo è di rispondere alla necessità di indagare sui cambiamenti dell’uso della città da parte di giovani e adolescenti. Una proposta di ricerca in questo ambito è stata inoltrata al Fondo nazionale svizzero per la ricerca scientifica (FNS) nel 2013.

    • Atti del workshop realizzato nel maggio del 2012 presso l’Accademia di architettura (PDF)
  • Alpine Space

    Friches en montagne

    Nell'aprile del 2019 è stato pubblicato il n. 107-1 | 2019 del Journal of Alpine Research / Revue de géographie alpine, sul tema degli spazi abbandonati nelle montagne del mondo (Friches en Montagne / Mountain Fallow Lands). La realizzazione del dossier è stata diretta da Gian Paolo Torricelli (AAM-USI) in collaborazione con Sylvie Duvillard (Univ. Grenoble-Alpes - UGA).

     

    Il Gottardo 

    OST ha partecipato alla ricerca CUS (2009-2011) Landscape, Myths and Technology fornendo due contributi. Per approfondimenti si veda Burkhalter M. und Sumi C. (2016, Eds.) Der Gotthard / Il Gottardo. Landscape – Myths – Technology, Scheidegger & Spiess, Zürich.

     

    Precedenti pubblicazioni

    Il prof. Gian Paolo Torricelli ha realizzato nel passato diverse ricerche sullo spazio alpino, segnatamente per quanto concerne la mobilità e l’urbanizzazione.

     

  • Ticino City

    G.P. Torricelli e L. Vallenari (2021).
    La “Città Ticino” nel contesto inter-metropolitano, Extra dati, A. XXI, n. 05, aprile 2021, Giubiasco, 2021, 10 pagine (Data di pubblicazione: 29.04.2021).

    In che misura il paragone transfrontaliero può aiutare a spiegare l’arresto demografico del Ticino degli ultimi anni? Per rispondere alla domanda, l’articolo propone un confronto delle statistiche dei bilanci demografici 2011-2019 per i cantoni svizzeri e le province italiane, suddivisi in due periodi quinquennali (2011-2015 e 2015-2019): saldi naturali e migratori medi annui, i cui indicatori sono stati rappresentati su una serie di mappe confrontabili (calcolati sui dati UST per la Svizzera e ISTAT per l’Italia).  I risultati mostrano come nel periodo in esame i poli metropolitani (ad esempio Zurigo, asse Losanna-Ginevra e soprattutto Milano) siano stati in termini demografici più dinamici e attrattivi delle province (o meglio città) intermedie. L’analisi mostra però soprattutto comportamenti demografici diversi tra Italia del Nord (dove dopo il 2014 la crescita demografica si affievolisce per poi talvolta diminuire anche sensibilmente) e Svizzera (i cantoni appaiono generalmente con incrementi naturali e saldi migratori positivi), con l’eccezione a sud delle Alpi del Ticino, dove invece i comportamenti demografici sembrano nel tempo avvicinarsi a quelli delle città e province intermedie del Nord Italia (ad es. calo della natalità, incremento dell’emigrazione).

    >> Link

     

    Torricelli G.P. (2020). Città Ticino 2020
    Cause e conseguenze di una stagnazione demografica, Gli Epaper di Coscienza Svizzera – n. 3, 16 novembre 2020

    Questo breve approfondimento interroga il repentino arresto demografico del Ticino degli ultimi anni. Quali ragioni spiegano questa evoluzione e quali principali conseguenze sociali, economiche e territoriali ci dobbiamo aspettare nei prossimi tempi?

    >> Link

     

    Torricelli G.P. (2014).
    Settlement Patterns between Lombardy and Ticino Canton 1900-2010. A Comparison with the support of the Thematic Map,
    TERRITORIO, N° 71, 2014, pp. 26-34.

    Urban sprawl and peri-urban landscapes are spatial issues of the peri-urbanisation process, a relatively recent settlement pat­tern, started in the second half of the 20th century. That occurs in many places in the world, and of course in Lombardy and Ticino, with very different spatial issues from the previous phase of suburbanization, in the first half of the 20th century, triggered by the transformation and the development of the industry3. At the contrary peri-urbanisation represents the various newer forms of urbanization of rural areas, primarily for residential purposes. Most often characterized by individual housing, this residential pattern spreads with the increase of population flows from urban areas and inner suburbs to new housing areas in the outskirts of the traditional settlements, or to the recovery of ancient and rural buildings for residential purposes. In Lom­bardy this phenomenon triggered an extension of the urban sprawl (‘città diffusa’) that began in the late ‘70s, through the improvement of living standards and the development of mass motorization, and the contemporary start of the decline of the fordist industry ….(mettere link).

    >> Link (pdf)

     

    Torricelli G.P. (1994).
    Sur la comparaison des systèmes de villes : la distribution des fonctions urbaines entre Milan et Zurich,
    L’Espace géographique, tome 23, n°3, pp. 231-249.

    Comparing urban systems: the distribution of urban functions between Milan and Zurich. — The paper suggests to compare the distribution of the activities and urban functions in Switzerland and Northern Italy, with a third sector (services) spatial analysis. The urban development on the southern side of the central Alps, on the border between Ticino (Switzerland) and northern Lombardy (Italy), seems to be very similar: high growth rate of population, and spreading-out of the city. We can demonstrate that this development is dependent on two different logics of location of the urban functions: «poly centric» in Switzerland and «metropolitan» in Northern Italy. If the urban growth, in Southern Switzerland, is an effect of his border position, in Italy this is a process of metropolitan déconcentration (of Milan). Hence, the patterns of service's activities are very different on the two sides of the borderline. This has not only important consequencies for the relationships between the neighbouring towns of Lugano (Switzerland), Varese and Como (Italy), but also to the notion of city in this border region.

    >> Link

  • The City in Latin America

    Vitor Pessoa Colombo et Gian Paolo Torricelli
    « Gentrification, co-presence or social mix? Changes and permanence in the centre of São Paulo »
    EspacesTemps.net [En ligne],
    Works, 2020 | Mis en ligne le 17 July 2020, consulté le 17.07.2020./ DOI : 10.26151/2pdd-xz89

    >> Link

    Can we speak of gentrification in the centre of São Paulo (Brazil)? Or is it rather a situation of copresence between different social classes? Starting from a brief analysis of the Latin-American context and the situation of the urban centres in this region, we address the recent changes in the socio-spatial dynamics of the city of São Paulo. In order to assess the possibility of a gentrification process in its historical centre, we propose a spatial analysis of the evolution of the social fabric and the real estate market in this area, where a process of economic and social reinvestment is seemingly under way.

  • Workshop Mapping Techniques and Citizenship

    Traditionally, the complexity behind the elaboration of maps in the field of spatial development has confined mapping to a limited number of technicians mandated by local governments. However, during the last few decades the rise of geospatial technologies accessible to a large public has opened up unprecedented possibilities in the field of cartography, especially regarding the participation of non-specialized citizens to the elaboration of geographic information. With these considerations in mind, the workshop Mapping Techniques and Citizenship proposed to bring this discussion to the context of emerging countries’ metropolises. A series of conferences was therefore organised to address the potential of new technologies to generate, in a decentralized and participative way, relevant spatial information to support the spatial development of precarious settlements that result of "informal" urbanization processes.

     

    The proceedings of this workshop are now available online:
    PESSOA COLOMBO, V., BASSANI, J., TORRICELLI, G.-P., & de ARAÚJO, S. A. (Orgs.) Participatory mapping: technology and citizenship. First edition, 2019 - digital version