A conversation with

Tactical urbanism:

an art attack in the city

Urban landscapes are the backdrop to our frenetic lives. Streets, car parks, piazzas, places that often look grey and anonymous, designed to meet purely functional requirements.

What impact does beauty have on our lives?

Various studies have shown that a pleasant urban environment influences mood and mental health in general. Beauty, in all its forms and manifestations, plays a crucial role in shaping individual and collective wellbeing. Cities have the potential to become vibrant places of solidarity, but only if they are designed with care and attention to the needs of those living in them.

Contemporary urban planning has evolved in this very direction, focusing efforts on creating harmonious spaces where we can live in balance with others and the environment. A tangible example of this approach is the tactical urbanism that aims to transform neglected public areas into dynamic, welcoming places. This approach is carried out through creative solutions, often promoted by the community or local administrations, who implement short-term, low-cost policies. Thanks to these interventions, the space is remodelled, and genuine islands of social interaction are created.

Part of the municipality's "Open Piazzas" project, which promotes sustainable forms of mobility and encourages the use of public spaces as meeting places, includes interventions such as the reconfiguration and pedestrianising of the forecourt of Genova Station in Milan, launched in 2018.

Marco Cattuzzo, the regional product manager at Mapei, and coordinator of the intervention, tells us how one of the biggest companies producing construction materials fully embraced this philosophy. 

"The goal is to make urban spaces more pleasant for socialising, reading and enjoying free time. Through interventions of tactical urbanism, we want to transform street spaces taken over by a "sea of grey" into vibrant, creative urban environments, flooding them with colour and vitality.

We provided a two-component fast-drying epoxy-acrylic resin, enriched with granular quartz, to cover a surface of around 600 m2. Thanks to the speed at which the material dries and the ease of application, the forecourt was open again less than 48 hours after the work began, allowing quick recovery of the area and an immediate improvement in urban quality."

A real art attack where works of urban art spread like wildfire, radiating and branching out with joy and energy.

Brought together by the same goals, tactical urbanism projects are often combined with initiatives for the regeneration of sports facilities, such as the basketball court in the Scalo San Lorenzo neighbourhood in Rome, where an enormous basketball player covering the entire surface of the court, painted by Piskv (the alias of Francesco Persichella), made the place not only a meeting point for fans, but also a source of pride for the community.

Or in Prato, in "Macrolotto Zero", a neighbourhood next to the historical centre with a lack of public spaces, which has now become a social sports hub with surfaces designed based on a geometric pattern divided into many colours. 
These urban regeneration projects are transforming cities around the world through a process of virtuous ramification.

In Breda, in the Netherlands, Catania-based artist Gummy Gue has reclaimed the "black square", an area with a high rate of petty crime, through the creation of "Orbital", a large mural on the ground around a football pitch. The work is dedicated to Hein van Gastel, a local football hero. 

And there are also cycle paths and pedestrian routes, such as the Jurassic Mile in Singapore, an open-air exhibition of life-size dinosaurs. Or the Lezíria cycle path in Castro Marim, Portugal, part of a project that aims to connect villages and promote sustainability.

"The idea is to embrace a holistic concept of sustainability that can extend from healthy living to social and environmental wellbeing - Marco maintains - Indeed, we have received several national and international awards for the circular economy, with the proposal of innovative, sustainable systems and solutions such as our Zero line, a series of products for construction designed to reduce environmental impact, including CO2 emissions. We support the project "StrategieGreen2030" to address current and future challenges connected to health and the quality of urban areas, with the goal of decarbonisation and renaturalisation to improve quality of life in cities. Added to this is a structured programme to recover the packaging from B2B products and various training modules, both in-house and dedicated to professionals and distributors, on impact reduction practices and environmental responsibility."

Art and beauty don't just transform our cities, but also our lives, enriching them with colours and forms that inspire joy and hope. 
The example of Mapei highlights the transformative potential of tactical urbanism and corporate involvement in urban regeneration. A vision that extends beyond mere environmental impact, and also embraces social wellbeing. This approach doesn't just make cities aesthetically pleasing and functional, but also transforms them into spaces of sharing, inclusivity and cohesion.

By incorporating art and creativity into the urban fabric, it is possible to create urban environments that become places for meeting others, expression and community pride, generating a positive impact on mental health and the general wellbeing of citizens.

The challenge for companies in all sectors is to get inspired by these examples, and start adopting innovative, collaborative strategies. By diversifying these activities and branching out, it is possible to significantly contribute to promoting the wellbeing of people and the environment, for a more beautiful, welcoming world that is in harmony with everything around us.


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N° 15


People, like trees, put out branches in their lives
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