Siempre Fiesta

DF_DC (Dario Franchini and Diego Calderon)

The Street in 10 Years



A long-term strategy is conceived as a series of shorter-term actions in unsteady succession.

The following response to ‘how can a street change in 10 years?’ is presented as a  strategy flexible & adaptable in time, rather than as a design. As such, it does not offer a design or a fix schedule of work, but instead it synthesises a roadmap – a tool to be used without overpowering the natural life of human-centred places. It is a framework that invariably requires the collaboration of ‘others’ and is averse to being implemented under exclusion or total consensus.

Some principles and parametres (to be updated periodically):

  1. It is impossible to foresee how a city will change, and any attempt to do so is doomed to fail. At much, we can aspire to be catalysers and try to influence change towards something more human, long-lasting and relational.
  2. There is a site ecology to public space. We work with existent and present elements which are nevertheless not systemically integrated. Production and management of ‘waste’ are integrated in circularity, a language with which to establish a new public dialogue.
  3. This strategy is in part generic, and as such, universal. The specific form it takes nevertheless comes from the pre-existent and the latent potential of each site.
  4. The objectives are dynamic, changeable by design and/or as systemic response. It acts as a roadmap with a number of destinations and possible ways of getting there.
  5. The strategy aims for a degree of invisibility, yielding the benefits of collaboration but not recognisable as a singular, branded action.
  6. Any implementation is to be adaptable, reversible, and contingent. It opposes the idea of a single, master designer, and looks for distinct manifestations.
  7. The strategy has to be manageable while remaining open-ended.
  8. It is to be implemented by multiple ownership at different levels (local government, curators/coordinators, tenant-resident representatives, people from foreign contexts).
  9. The strategy avoids the embellishment or occupation of space per
    . It recognises that identity sometimes resides in the useless or the apparently unsightly.


Our proposal is a model that can be used to anticipate, act and react to the sometimes chaotic, sometimes over-regulated context of the public realm (here illustrated through three defined spaces) and influence their development over time with a part visible, part invisible hand. It uses the framework of CONCENTRICO as a well-established programme and revolving reflection on the city, to illustrate how different scales of intervention (however temporary) can result in gradual, sustained improvement of the public realm, combining spontaneity and feedback cycles instead of grand designs based from a fix set of conditions – while expanding on it beyond the yearly cycle basis.

The strategy is not prone to be ‘owned’ by one single entity, and it thrives on a clear recognition of a gradient of management and self-regulation. The key stakeholders include the local government, public realm curators, local commercial and residential representatives and selected strangers to the region to enrich the dialogue through experience

Each of the three sites is a unique combination of factors, with their own cycles, strengths and character, but also their own banalities and flaws. People relate to them at different levels, most of the time on a subconscious level. All these conditions are to be preserved, without imposition or aiming at creating ‘destinations’ out of them. Even at points where the implementation of the strategy reaches a ‘mature’ level, their idiosyncrasy and history should be palpable.


The following hypothetical timelines illustrate the uncontrolled, yet influenceable development of the three places over the course of the years, representing with symbolic placeholders how the range of interventions continuously redefine the setting and mark new points of departure, without depleting the local ‘forms’ and responding to contingencies along the way. The ten year period is used as example, but by virtue of the strategy there is no presupposed deadline or sense of completion to be pursued. The Parque de la Glorieta envisages an ongoing Concentrico focus (the previous production of which is used for illustrational purposes).

2A. Common patterns of disconnection between elements in the public realm.

2B. A schematic proposal for an Ecology of Site, able to take any form and adaptable to internal and external contingencies. Public space as a system of systems.

3A. The Five Elements of the site ecology. Every place combines them in a different way, be it through act or omission, evolving and consolidating over time.

  1. Each site has an integrity and character to it. Places of intersection and overlap should be natural combinations of these and avoid being homogenised or artificially extended.



The state of mobility in the areas of study, while far from perfect, already contains a number of mediums and interconnections due to its central location. The streets are in a process of transformation to integrate cycle lanes, recycling stations and other facilities at the expense of car space. The strategy takes this cue to continue the use and reimagination of the tarmac surface as a space of negotiation and transition, rather than of danger and fissure. Cycle lanes and stations present as an opportunity to combine with elements of production and of play.


The broad and complex range of instances within the reach of the urban strategy makes it mandatory to have a clear material position, from which an equally broad number of declensions can be produced. As most tangible interventions require a fabrication of sorts, materials with a high recyclability and malleable versatility should be used with absolute priority. The elements on which the strategy will gradually (and responsibly) be implemented should promote a certain raw quality, with the ‘natural’ traits exhibited to make as evident as possible their recycling potential acquiring a myriad forms.



Grow, make, put together

Central urban spaces have for some time relied on transportation of goods produced remotely (many times globally). As a result, the urban environment has increasingly become foreign to the seasonal cycles of produce and biodiversity levels falling steeply.

The strategy envisages bringing back physical and symbolic evidence of production, using the urban setting to display elements of vegetative growth as part of a revolving and educational landscape programme. There is a wide range of opportunity to put these elements on alternative function, such as space dividers or educational

  • MEET

Intersect, exchange, share

To meet is to temporarily coincide with others linked to us by common interests, relationships or needs. Meeting is what takes place between phases of circulation and one of the more evident function of central spaces. Without trying to influence the type of places where people meet, our task is to facilitate a range of ‘enablers’ for encounters; the conventional examples of public benches, stackable light street furniture and shades are complemented by tactile surfaces and textures on the generic pedestrian environment to widen the range of forms people meet in.

  • PLAY
    (Re)create, associate, metaphor

To play is to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. This is a category normally related with children, but it is well documented that even as adults it keeps our brains flexible, repel depression and sharpen our social-emotional skills.

Places for play are not limited to physical structures aimed at children, but instead can take any form that can interact with the senses, consciously or not. For them to be strongly integrated and accessible, they should transgress conventional limits and not remain stable. We would like to recognise the play potential in the performance of daily activities.


Communicate, disagree, enrich

Whereas places for meeting rely on affinity and familiarity, cities are inherent places for diversity and divergence. No place captures such vocation such as public squares, where different point of views acquire visible form. Manifestation of difference is not only a sign of urban complexity, but one of its greatest assets.

Preserving the ‘natural’ mix of uses and promoting the symbolic elements of manifestation (e.g. a temporary stage, a signboard, a screen…) will allow the broad range of messages and the interactions they produce to take physical form. Manifestation is not only about difference, but about communicating in a common language.

    Fix, extend, repurpose, transform

The counterpart to Production, recirculation aims not only at a logistic but a tangible process where the life of materials and components is extended, through repurposing or on-site recycling. While there are technical limits to this element, the degree to which these processes can become an evident arm of the site ecology, the stronger the sites will read as site of (literal) transformation, with social, economic and environmental benefits at different levels. Recirculation is also an element of social participation and engagement.

The sites are seen as constant workshops, with interventions privileging material recycling and minimum, if not zero, waste.


The constant agency towards space is to take seasonality and climate as a cue, with element not just in rigid factual succession, but promoting overlaps and unexpected continuities. Occasional extemporalities can produce intensity and renewed ways of relating to space. The elements of intervention should stimulate this as an intrinsic design capacity.


Local businesses are invited to collectively develop a general  design guidebook for new signage, menus, promotionals and furniture storages, along with a network of local and external designers.

A sequence of more or less temporary PLAY structures and repurposed in situ or elsewhere. Some of them,  due to their nature,  can remain for longer periods. Lightweight, low-carbon footprint materials are easy to replace and transform into secondary and tertiary elements progressively.

Recycling stations are no longer limited to containers to collect ‘stuff’, but as open deposits for people to exchange objects, giveaway parts or repurpose goods, extending their life in situ, thus avoiding unnecessary displacement and waste.

Pavements are replaced gradually (and locally) for more tactile surfaces requalifying both circulation and activity.

Cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings become more continuous and acquire a language of their own, overlapping and negotiating with other surfaces.

Concentrico’s programme extends and itinerant elements visit different parts of the ciity and region

Urban furniture becomes modular and can be assembled into different families of componentry.

There is no conclusion to this vision for embracing constant, loose transformation. The outcome is not only discovered at the end, but actually gradually uncovered every day, thus giving some opportunity to react. As the setting of the streets and park evolve, such will the vision – and the way it operates on plurality should maintain it relevant.

As a formal output, the strategy can be presented, consulted and developed with local stakeholders – who would become their natural custodians over time. And it is exactly at that point where places get another chance, a renewed lease of life.

Beti JaiSiempre Fiesta!

DF_DC (Dario Franchini and Diego Calderon)

DF_DC is an architectural practice established in Lugano and London in 2016, founded by Dario Franchini and Diego Calderon, after having met at the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio in 2004. Our work involves the production of buildings, places, and strategies for a range of sectors, pursuing an elemental space. Our approach is distinctly collaborative, having established strategic links with other practices from conception to completion and forming part of an international network of consultants bolstered by our two studio locations, overseas work, and academic endeavour.