Milan Cultural Mega-events: From the 2015 Expo through the 2026 Winter Olympics

Milan is undergoing significant transformations. Its city image and reputation as an international tourist destination have been on the rise, along with developments in its business and real estate market. These transformations are often perceived as closely linked to the city’s cultural vibrancy and its two mega-events: the 2015 Expo and the upcoming 2026 Winter Olympics. However, the relationship between these mega-events and smaller cultural and entertainment activities in the city has received limited attention. Furthermore, Milan’s cultural heritage is frequently considered merely a component of the city’s image. While the positive impact of these transformations is visible and celebrated, the potential difficulties, and uneven effects they may entail often remain unexplored and unaddressed. Milan Cultural Mega-Events critically examines the planning, implementation, and legacy of these mega-events from urban and cultural perspectives. It highlights the achievements as well as the limitations of the complex governance of mega-events and explores ways to improve Milan’s trajectory through its “mega-event decade” and beyond.

Ponzini, D., Jones, Z.M., Di Vita, S., Jreij, A., Propp (2024) Milan Cultural Mega-events: From the 2015 Expo through the 2026 Winter Olympics. Milan: Lettera Ventidue 

by Davide Ponzini, Zachary M. Jones, Stefano Di Vita, Abdallah Jreij with Propp

Available at Lettera Ventidue

The Faces of Contemporary Cities

The story of Permasteelisa, an Italian company behind the facades of some of the most famous buildings in the world. 
The great global cities of the Western, Middle Eastern, and Asian world tend to resemble each other more and more. The new buildings of cities such as London, Hong Kong, New York, or Frankfurt are similar, and even the skylines increasingly seem to resemble one another. The fact that there are just a few great architects behind these constructions partly explains this phenomenon. 
This book reveals how the work of these architectural talents is also made possible by companies such as Permasteelisa, which offer technological solutions for constructing the most futuristic buildings. Permasteelisa produces continuous external cladding: the skin of skyscrapers, large airports, and current business centers. Drawing on its constant research into technology and materials, it collaborates with large architectural firms to transform an architect’s project into a building. This was the case for the Sydney Opera House, with its futuristic sails; for the Guggenheim in Bilbao and its curved facades conceived by Frank Gehry; and for the scintillating blades of Renzo Piano’s Shard in London. 
The book tells the story of Permasteelisa. With the texts by international urban planning scholars and data analysis and georeferencing methodologies developed at the Transnational Architecture and Urbanism Lab (TAU-Lab) of the Politecnico di Milano, it shows how this Italian company’s know-how has allowed it to shape the faces of many contemporary cities such as New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Milan, Hong Kong, and Sydney.

Ponzini, D. (Ed. 2024). The Faces of Contemporary Cities, New York: Rizzoli New York. 

Edited by Davide Ponzini

Available at Rizzoli New York

The Italian version available at Rizzoli

Seeing through Gulf Cities. Urbanization in and from the Arabian Peninsula

Cities like Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Dubai stand out with superlative claims, such as the world’s tallest building, most spectacular museum, and largest shopping mall. However, such achievements, for better or worse, have complex urban stories behind them, stories that usually remain invisible and inexplicable. By combining photography, graphics and text in an innovative way, this publication aims to fill this void and broaden the knowledge of urban planning today with particular attention to visual and sociocultural aspects, as well as design.

Molotch H., Ponzini, D. (2022). Seeing through Gulf Cities. Urbanization in and from the Arabian Peninsula, with Michele Nastasi (photography) and an afterword by Nasser Rabbat, Trento: ListLab.

by Harvey Molotch, Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi 

Available at ListLab

Transnational Architecture and Urbanism: Rethinking How Cities Plan, Transform, and Learn

Since the 1990s, increasingly multinational modes of design have arisen, especially concerning prominent buildings and places. Traditional planning and design disciplines have proven to have limited comprehension of, and little grip on, such transformations. Public and scholarly discussions argue that these projects and transformations derive from socioeconomic, political, cultural trends or conditions of globalization. The author suggests that general urban theories are relevant as background, but of limited efficacy when dealing with such context-bound projects and policies.

This book critically investigates emerging problematic issues such as the spectacularization of the urban environment, the decontextualization of design practice, and the global circulation of plans and projects. The book portends new conceptualizations, evidence-based explanations, and practical understanding for architects, planners, and policy makers to critically learn from practice, to cope with these transnational issues, and to put better planning in place.

Transnational Architecture and Urbanism combines urban planning, design, policy, and geography studies to offer place-based and project-oriented insight into relevant case studies of urban transformation in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.

Ponzini, D. (2020) Transnational Architecture and Urbanism
Rethinking How Cities Plan, Transform, and Learn. London, Routledge

Authored by Davide Ponzini

Available at Routledge

About Star Architecture Reflecting on Cities in Europe

Cities across the world have been resorting to star architects to brand their projects, spark urban regeneration and market the city image internationally. This book shifts the attention from star architects to star architecture, arguing that the process of deciding about and implementing relevant architectural and urban projects is not the product of any single actor. Star architecture can, in fact, be better studied and understood as assembled by multiple actors and in its relationship with urban transformation. In its 18 chapters, the book presents a multidisciplinary collection of expert contributions in the fields of urban planning, architecture, media studies, urban economics, geography, and sociology, consistently brought together for the first time to deal with this topic. Through a vast array of case studies and analytical techniques touching over 20 cities in Europe, the book shows the positive and more problematic impacts of star architecture with reference to the preservation of built heritage, tourism and media. The book will be of interest to architects, sociologists, urban planners, and public administrators.

Alaily-Mattar, N., Ponzini, D., Thierstein A. (Eds. 2020) About Star Architecture: Reflecting on Cities in Europe. Cham, Springer

Edited by Nadia Alaily-Mattar, Davide Ponzini and Alain Thierstein

Available at Springer