Open Ground: De-paving Urban Surfaces

22 July -26 July 2024

In our cities, numerous areas are unnecessarily covered with concrete or asphalt, where urban nature could gain space and thrive. The summer school will investigate creative forms and processes of de-paving and material reuse to trigger new aesthetics and ecological processes.

Image Credits: A. Bortolotti

Keywords: sealed surfaces, recycling aggregates, hybrid ecologies, low-cost/low tech, temporary uses, processes, landscape design, circularity


Off Campus Cascina Nosedo, Politecnico di Milano, Italy


Application is open to Master and PhD Students of the member universities from the IDEA League Alliance.


There are no registration and accommodation fees. Students from IDEA League member universities selected to participate in a summer school only have to pay for their own travel costs where applicable.


Curriculum vitae & publication list

Letter of motivation

Letter of recommendation (optional)

Supervisor approval (only for PhD students from Chalmers)

Increasingly, the sealed surfaces of our cities are being transformed, either through spontaneous processes of degradation and neglect, or through soil desealing interventions aimed at regenerating the ecological functions of the soil. The spontaneous landscape can break and gain space within paved surfaces too. What design approaches and tactics can be employed to modify this mineral crust, minimizing impacts while maximizing increased permeability and new spatial qualities? How can we reuse the aggregates resulting from the demolition of this mineral crust on site? Starting from these questions, the summer school aims to investigate creative forms and processes of de-paving and material reuse to trigger new aesthetics and ecological processes. Students with different backgrounds will be confronted with a real-life case of soil depaving in a former manufacturing area in Porto di Mare, Milan. PhD and master students will be invited to engage in multidisciplinary activities by discussing their ideas together and with local and international experts. In a first phase, they will be asked to document through drawings, maps, and photographs the materials and types of impermeable surfaces, the site conditions, and the multiple agents involved in the transformation of Porto di Mare; subsequently, a project will be drawn up that can demonstrate possible future trajectories of (re)understanding the mineral surfaces of our cities, possibly accompanied by field experimentation.


This Summer School is jointly organised by researchers from TU Delft and Politecnico di Milano, Latitude Platform and Centro Forestazione Urbana – Italia Nostra, in collaboration with NATI00NS and NBCF – Spoke Urban Biodiversity