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A private golf course in my garden

The importance of the local and urban planning dimension of citizenship as a constitutive dimension of local communities


A "private golf course in my garden" is the tendency to design ever more exclusive residential communities, even with a mini golf course inside, as in the case of the new luxury neighborhoods of Phu My Hung in Saigon in Vietnam, according to a model of American gated communities that destroys urban values and the social, open and democratic character of cities.

I doubt - at a provocative level - that most architects and urban planners are really aware of the importance of the public places of cities as a constitutive element of citizenship and therefore of the democratic character of these local communities.

In an era of globalization, the elimination of physical frontiers, the free circulation of goods and human capital extended on a planetary scale, a discourse on local and national citizenship, would be interpreted as perhaps antiquated, by the supporters of the global citizen able to walk freely in spaces private and commercial airports of the no border cities. However, I would like to underline the importance of the local, national and territorial dimension as well as the spatial and planning dimension of citizenship as a constitutive dimension of local communities.

Cities are designed around public spaces and collective places: it is a condition sine qua non for the well-being and health of local communities. A healthy city, from an environmental, social and economic point of view, is a city that offers its citizens equal access to its public spaces, be they open public spaces (such as parks, squares and gardens, beaches, long river) and covered (such as public services such as schools, hospitals, community centers, libraries).

A city or an urban neighborhood designed in such a way as to favor such equality of access, and also an adequate percentage of public space / service for each citizen or urban standard, has characteristics of high quality and liveability. Not by chance in the annual rankings on the most liveable cities in the world, are always at the top of the urban community rankings with these characteristics, which are in Canada, Holland, Switzerland and even sometimes in Italy.

However, the discourse on public spaces becomes even more central not only in the process of building good cities, but also of good political communities, that is, of cohesive, democratic, innovative, hospitable urban societies, capable therefore of attracting people and capital from all over the world.



In fact, feeling a citizen of one's own city and neighborhood, that is, actively participating in its dynamics and its process of growth and improvement, is part of the constitutive and essential character of each person and contributes to improving its personality and status of psychophysical well-being: it means opening up to relationships with one's neighbors in order to achieve a goal of improving one's local community. An inevitable reduction of one's ego in favor of mutual cooperation for common ends, a school of life. After all we are not isolated atoms but eager to belong to a local community.

Furthermore, the process of participation in a city where public spaces are open to all is important insofar as it allows the recognition of the other by itself, not necessarily coming from the same exclusive social environment, thus allowing an improvement path of the personality of the citizen and consequently the reduction of his own ego and narcissistic spirit, if not also his individual and social isolation.

A city built for a fortress community or "gated communities" reduces individuals and mere consumers, certainly not citizens participating in its common destiny: these private residential communities, being disconnected from the physical and social fabric of the city, are simply concerned with their internal management and development process of the building product, protecting their environmental and positional values acquired in opposition to and in contrast with the city and the surrounding population.

A model that in the long run is unsustainable that contrasts the residential islands of the rich towards an undifferentiated and uncaring sea of poor people wishing to land in such "model" neighborhoods.

Altresi, an open city, where residential communities manage their public spaces in a democratic way, spaces that are not closed or restricted for a few, but that are accessible to everyone and the center of the community's collective life, favor the spirit of citizenship and the inclusion of citizens, who therefore feel involved and actively involved in the spiritual and material improvement of the same.

An openly planned city refers to urban planning principles that date back to the early twentieth century by the founding fathers of modern urban planning as well as in many experiences of planning the city and public spaces of European origin, where the centering - in the best experiences - it has always been in the union between collective spaces and private spaces and places, in the good relationship between squares, streets, parks and residential areas.

A model very different from the American based on gated communities to which Vietnam now seems to be inspired by contradicting its original and undoubtedly positive historical urban planning tradition.

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