Territorial Components of the Information Society:

Two different Italian case study Telematic Piazza of Scampia

and Officina Città of Turin.




Daniela De Leo




Short Abstract.

This paper is about Territorial Components of Information Society: Real and Virtual Places where ICT are used for urban issues. Through the explanation of two case study, It investigates how technological innovations are supposed to use inside the urban upgrading’s processes to find a possible implementation of use of them in the planning practices.


Full Content of presentation.


The increasing consciousness to be in a Information Society and the follow attention to the use of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the urban issues is because they have important reflections on economic development, reproduction of social roles and relationships, definitions of cultural aspects, visions of future and perceptions of space.

The co-evolution of cities and virtual interactions influences planning practices and strategies and the work of planners too, further of collapse of distance and virtualizing of reality, also because the actions, connected with newer tools, create new using values of each specific local context and could be used like upgrading’s factors.

It is no possible to consider policies for cities and those for telecommunications and new media separately, especially if we considered, at the same time, the disciplinary evolution of planning. The dialogical-communicative turning of planning and the new form of public participation of the democratic processes changed the way planners engage the public and produce consensus. From one hand planners discovering new approaches based on communication, collaboration, co-operation, from the other there is the great development of tools that make possible this interaction.

The development of Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) could be increasing the interactive opportunities, but also they could produce effects simultaneously in opposite directions, like a great leveller of opportunity and an amplifications of inequality between who have and who have not, connected to the potential to create an information underclass1.

The planning’s challenge is in the opportunities to project the forms and the places of relationships of the inhabitants with Institutions through technologies, with a sensible improvement of democratic involvement in governance.

If is very important to develop synergies between media and ‘place-based’ exchanges, the places where they could happen are more important too, to think about the process. For this reason this paper is fixed on the so called Territorial Component because they are tangible, physical and real places, in their virtuality, where is possible shape face-to-face interactions in parallel with electronically mediates ones; reinforce more democratic and decentralised modes of communications; increase interaction creating access opportunities for technologically disinclined people or those that suffer from restrictions to access, like language, literacy, disability.

Moreover the reflection on this places is possible to recognised how the typically idea of erosion of concept of space against the role of time of Information society is bypassed by the importance of place where socialising the power and improve the power of society itself.


The objective of this reflection is understand the projects and the potentiality of development, keeping the debate on the linkage between development of virtual cities and electronic space with place of real cities.

If we compare the objectives of projects of two Territorial Components, located in Scampia (Naples) and in Turin, and look at the two correspondent Virtual places for each project, it is possible to understand the tendency in the use of technologies in urban fabric and the connections with planning processes, outlining the possibilities to more democratic oriented use of this tools in upgrading processes based on inhabitants’ empowerment. 



Within the specific Italian context the declinations of digital cities, like telematic public experiences in the processes of bottom-up management and community building, are pretty recent both for technological delay and slowness in the public policies.

The first Italian cities experiences of Territorial Component of ICT are physical structures named telecentres, directed towards selling telematic services, without any particular form of social functionality. Instead, in this direction the most important experimentation produced in Italy is the Civic Network, that allows to communicate, exchange opinions, interact with Administrators, participate in governing one’s own city, express ideas and receive public services. Inside the few different kind of experiences is possible to recognised some development direction’s that could be useful to understand how the ICT could be use in the urban matter and for which scope. The cases study represented two of this declinations and they are describe to outline some important things to think about.   

According with the Civic Network’s concept is interesting the project of the Telematic Piazza, that try to conjugate the needs of a more wide interaction of the mature user base, with that of the potential users, how instrument of upgrading’s process with a great attention to work and technological education matters, in a very problematic and complex environment.

The Turin’s case study is quite different of the other one, and is more oriented towards the disciplinary evolution on the north American model of so called Urban Center. Officina Città is a project of the future Urban Center, an open space, area of meeting and social gathering, born to share with inhabitants the big number of transforming city projects through a great use of ICT.

The role of ICT is structuring for the first one and complementary for the second one even if this one is more explicitly oriented toward the urban matter according to Urban Center’s idea.

The Virtual side of both of them is supposed to be a interactive node but, at this time, only the Web Site of Turin is available on line.


Piazza telematica, Scampia ( Naples) Piazza Virtuale www.piazzatelematica.it

The idea of Telematic Piazza springs up in Italy in 1993 on behalf of the Telematic Piazza Association, and is presented – upon invitation from the DGXII of the European Union – in November 1995, at the Berlin Conference on Urban Utopias, promoted with the purpose of identifying new possible tools of intervention for the rebirth of cities in Europe. Two years later, in 1997, a project for the implementation of telematic piazzas presented by the City of Naples, in collaboration with the aforesaid Association, obtains European funding within the scope of Urban Pilot Programmes (ex. Art. 10 FESR) aimed towards experimenting new tools of growth compatible with the urban environment, new forms for socio-economic cohesion and the means to fight social exclusion.

It was born from a no profit association and consist of a network 20.000 Square oriented to realised a new model of development based on the use of new technologies.

The implication with planning process comes from the application of principles of sustainable development and the networks between administrations, citizens and cities, but also with the choice of localisation of the physical structure.

The piazza will be physical located within the district of Scampia, and therefore in a degraded area, but presently undergoing restructuring and reuse. The project draft of the site exalts the functions linked to socialising, training and work, in a building originally intended as a social centre but never really used

The Program for Urban Upgrading of the district is based in fact upon the introduction of new important urban functions in the district, thus creating a high level of social and functional complexity as well as an increase in the standards of urban living.

Within the scope of this intervention, the city has deemed appropriate that the settlement of the "telematic piazza" in the district would form the introduction of an integrative excellence function - both from a social and technological viewpoint - of the new programmed urban missions.

For this reason, the Scampia telematic piazza is fully integrated with the arranging of new advanced tertiary functions and the settling of new social classes in the district, at present greatly degraded; is integrated, in the micro-area where the building rises, with informatic oriented scholastic functions and with youth recreational activities; is integrated, at a high level, with the new, more advanced functions provided for in the district (universities, anti-disaster units, agencies promoting youth entrepreneurial activities), for the equipping of telematic tools to be made available – through appropriate agreements – with these bodies.

The Virtual Piazza derived from the networking of the two physical piazzas (the other one is in Port area) is a third virtual piazza which presents itself as a privileged site of the network, an intensive node of the same, as a door to the open city for anyone, in any part of the world, who wants access to the information and services in the network which the editorial staff of the telematic piazzas of Naples will be tasked to select, file and link.

This new site will also be equipped with a search engine that will guide to all the open sites in Naples, through which the city redesigns itself, not just in terms of informatic streams, but also in terms of cultural and territorial opportunities.

<<These structures express, in their material and immaterial architectural nature, vibrant metaphors to apply for the Virtual Piazza and to the structuring of the physical spaces: a sign as ancient as the Greek origin of the city: the agorazein of social gathering in the piazza as individuals, as a community, for the reaching of common objectives and goals (in perfect harmony), whether economical, cultural, or just plain entertainment.>>2.

The total expenditures amount to 4,000,000 ECU’s and is financed by the European Union at 74% and by CIPE at 16%.The project, approved in July 1997, was expected to conclude its works in December 2000, but at this time it is not complete yet.


Officina Città, Turino – Virtual Urban Center, www.oct.torino.it

The project for a Officina Città in Turin start in 1999, like permanent place, an Urban Center where do exhibitions, show and talk about urban themes and projects.

In particular it is supposed to be the place where discussing about a lot of planning activities like Olympic Winter Games of Turin 2006, Strategic Plan International Turin, Special Project of Communication, Special Project Peripheral Upgrading’s.

The aims are increase the value of the promoted activities, developed or foreseen by the town above all the themes of the participation and the negotiated design, a place/laboratory to tell and take in an innovative way the policies of urban transformation of metropolitan area.

A permanent center of knowledge and research, integrated with national and international existent web to interpret contemporary complexity, where projects for territory picked up and made accessible in order to support a new relationship with the citizens and at the same time support the promotion of international image of Turin.

An interactive place, technologically advanced, thought to involve the visitor in ways of knowledge, reflection and participation on the themes of the urban transformations, with particular attention to the themes of the good quality; architecture and environment.

Physically it will be placed in future the middle of urban transformations, inside a vacant site of Railway’s property area in the heart of the future urban transformations, inserted inside ex charming example of industrial architecture of the first of last century. The telematic space offered the possibilities of diffusion of information’s, tools and on-line services and as tool of diffusion of the urban transformation policies that makes visible the potentialities of projects in a virtual representation.

Officina Città produced the site Turin [www.oct.torino.it], planned as multimedia interactive communication product 3  intends to test the potentialities of a portal on internet, structured to spread the knowledge of the urban transformations of a metropolitan area. A place which is an virtual alter ego, planned in consistency with the total system and in continuity with the recent experiences produced by the town in Turin in the sectors of the technologies; information and of the communication like smart card and professional services.

The site Officina Città of Turin proposes a transverse navigation through various given access door: from the places it is possible to reach the information interacting with a map which places the objects in their geographic dimension, entrances from the themes the same information is organised in a structure which divides into thematic categories, at last the relationships to have the accesses a dynamic system of conceptual maps.

The single sources are organised in their turn all; intern of a virtual shelf where, in suitable drawers, the available contributions are registered: texts, images, displays, three-dimensional audio, sights comments, link and historical documents.

The tools door anticipates a will to make available, in a next future, a few objects they will allow to consult and feed the archives besides access the foreseen forms of on-line participation or of electronic commerce. Where today is available the presentation of the project, will be dedicated to the description of the initiatives at the physical Officina Città seat, with the possibility of consulting all the institutional character information. The instrument developed to manage and research of information about upgrading processes is  the Urban Multimedia Data Base. With the development of this instrument is starting a phase of definition of standards useful to harvest and manage the date for the digital archives of Officina Città.

Right now the only part realised of project is the Virtual one, but the high speed of processes of the transformation of the city and the richness of the Administration, let us imagine the end of work for the end of the year.



What is the important part of these projects? How is possible to implementing the use of ICT to make a good planning processes and then good plans and good cities?

Both of the two Case Study show the consciousness that telematic can contribute greatly in the quality of politics, offering the chances of increasing the opportunities for interactive dealings between Administrations and Citizens and this is a very important aspect.

The projects of Territorial Component of ICT have to assure the Right of Citizenship: the possibilities to participate in public decision processes, accessibility to the knowledge and training, possibilities of co-operation to realised project of management of territory sharing from citizens, and to take part of the social life.

Our action, like planners, in this projects should be oriented to shape space of responsibility with a great symbolic values, really civic place much more than an informative point; taking care of importance of accessibility and equality for a democratic interaction.

Informatic technologies have reached now a level of reliability that can be offered to mass consumption, for it is fundamental to give everyone access to information in the digital city.

For this reason is very important the physical localisation in the urban space, and like we saw, in the first case study, the peripheral localisation is a upgrading’s factor by itself, connected with the following learning processes. In the particular urban fabric of Turin, according with socio-economical and political context, the experience is closer to a Official City Web Site building to legitimate and ‘show’ decisions already taken.

Even if the role of the interfaces is very important to the interaction because they are able to create spatial proximity, virtual environment and social approach between people in different areas, the development of a web site for cities must be considered carefully. <<An Official web site is an important communicational tool for the interaction between council, citizen and communities […], an official web site is a new environment for the city and a new representation of the city itself>>4. The problem is that is not have to became the only aim, like a shop windows to legitimate the city marketing: with ICT we can meet inhabitants’ needs and but also finish to sell the city to richer offering from WWW, but having care to all kind of citizens, even if which one are no stakeholders or shareholders.

Both of case studies are innovative experience for the towns which, for the complexity of the themes to treat and the presence of several interlocutors involved to different title, must be read in their dimension of prototype which takes start facing a theme considered fundamental: gathering and organising the information diffuse in several environments to build arranges of orientation towards all the principal transformation activities and cures of the territory.

Another important aspect, indispensable to produce thematic widening and real interaction forms with operators and citizens, is to build an archive of documents stratified in which the information about the present, about the past and about the future of the town is registered. Moreover the PiazzaTelematica experience try to oppose itself to dangerous process of fragmentation in local IT islands 5 through the internal project of the net even if It is necessary a more oriented planning process connected with the other aims.

We can find some suggestion from this two case study and try to do better.



1 Hall S., Community networks-Community development through information technologies, Paper of OLP Journal.

2 From the www.piazzetelematiche.it web site.

3 From the www.oct.torino.it web site.

4 The image of the city is a semantic element on the official web page, in the interesting reflection Abdalla J. G., Cooper Rachel, A complex organizationon the Cyber Space : A study of image and identity communication of Official city web site.

5 This is one of the two problems releved by S.Graham for local new media initiatives.



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