The Urban Laboratory
AuroraLAB is a project of the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning of the Politecnico and Università di Torino aimed at activating research-action and learning by doing initiatives.
AuroraLAB, founded in 2018, has a twofold objective: to offer students multidisciplinary training, experiences "outside the classroom" and to bring the University closer to the neighborhood and its inhabitants through the creation of a physical space in the Aurora district, where research-action activities and initiatives can be developed together with the various actors involved (associations, public and private stakeholders, active citizens, etc.).
AuroraLAB is made up of an open group of professors from various disciplines (urban planning, geography, sociology, history, economics, technical physics, technology, etc.), together with researchers and students.
The object of study is the northern suburbs of Turin, in particular the Aurora neighborhood: a "vulnerable" area, rich in latent resources.
AuroraLAB offers students supplementary and multidisciplinary training experiences "outside the classroom". The students of the degree course in "Territorial, urban planning and landscape-environmental planning" at the Politecnico di Torino do training and attend workshops in Aurora as part of the various teaching programmes. In 2019, an "experimental thesis laboratory" was set up, involving professors from different disciplines and experts living and/or working in Aurora, to support near-graduates. Their research explored several important issues for the neighborhood (public space, energy poverty, the role of culture in urban regeneration, urban regeneration through European projects, areas of great transformation, temporary uses of urban voids etc).
AuroraLAB carries out research and research-action activities aimed at gaining a deeper knowledge of the neighborhood and the phenomena that characterize it. During the first year, two research reports have been produced that collect and systematize the results from the investigation work and analyse the characteristics of the area and those who live there:
- Sguardi su Aurora: tra centro e periferia (Perspectives on Aurora: from centre to outskirts), offers some photographs of the neighborhood and the surrounding area, its characteristics, resources and critical aspects.
- Aurora: a sud di Torino nord (Aurora: south of northern Turin), includes the results of quantitative and cartographic analysis activities and a campaign of more than 40 interviews with privileged witnesses who live and work in Aurora and whose visions sometimes differ from those emerging from the data.
During the first months of work, AuroraLAB organized seminars, workshops and informative guided walks and developed pilot projects with many local stakeholders, thus giving the University the role of providing a service to people living in the neighborhood. In particular:
- AuroraLAB participated in the "Aurora2020" project, which aims to promote a participatory dialogue between associations and active citizens on the visions and perspectives of the neighborhood, the needs of those who live in it and the strategies to promote its development. In April 2020, during the health emergency caused by the spread of Coronavirus, the Aurora Covid-19 Emergency Coordination was created which brought together 39 local actors (associations, committees and active citizens) and succeeded, during the lockdown period, in launching a network of solidarity to respond to the needs of the Aurora inhabitants.
- AuroraLAB participates as an "actor among actors" in a pilot initiative of participatory planning organized by District 7, aimed at drawing up a "Shared Local Development Plan" for the Borgo Dora, Valdocco and Aurora districts. The process led to the definition of a first draft of the Plan that identifies some future directions.