Utopian Hours: Manifesto for a New City Making, Turin, Italy, 13-15 October 2023

Lucy Bullivant

Nuvola Lavazza, the Utopian Hours venue in Turin. © Utopian Hours.

The Utopian Hours venue in Turin is the headquarters of Lavazza, La Nuvola, a project inspired by a cloud designed by Cini Zucchi Architetti. © Utopian Hours.

Utopian Hours: Manifesto for a New City Making, the first festival dedicated to innovative city making, is a rallying call for city planners, experts, makers, shapers, activists and developers to imagine new forms of city-making through conceptual innovation, showcasing some of the most inspiring ideas of recent years. This groundbreaking event launches for the 7th time in Turin on Friday 13 October, and will be staged over three exciting, activity-packed days at La Nuvola, Lavazza’s atmospheric headquarters  designed by Cino Zucchi Architetti.

Utopian Hours is the brainchild of Turin-based Stratosferica, the social enterprise and organiser of the festival, founded by two leading figures in urbanism, creative entrepreneur Luca Ballarini (Creative Director) with Giacomo Biraghi (Chairman), the urban strategist. “In an era of climate change, mass surveillance, economic instability and war, cities can easily create visions of dystopia in the collective imagination. Creating an utopian project requires rethinking our perceptions of urbanism to discover new ones”, they state, underlining the value of the Utopian Hours international festival to share knowledge and spark even more fresh ideas about how cities can be reinvented for the 21st century.

Giacomo Biragh, Chairman and Co-founder, Straosferica, co-founder, Utopian Hours. © Utopian Hours.

Luca Ballarini, Founder and Creative Director, Stratosferica, co-director, Utopian Hours. © Utopian Hours.

Over the last six years Utopian Hours has earned a huge reputation for its uninhibited multidisciplinary dialogues. Each year a cornucopia of international urbanists engages with the festival audience via talks and roundtables, with daily networking events. For the 2022 edition of Utopian Hours the duo gathered over 60 speakers from 20 different countries and more than 60 Italian delegates from 30 different Italian cities.

Engaging with audiences of young people and adults, Utopian Hours promotes city making and urban innovation as engaging topics including for non-experts. This wide scope and open approach underlines the festival’s unique global positioning as an influential force in city making, fostering valuable dialogue cross-culturally about urban evolution and the role of cities in the future of humanity.

Nuvola Lavazza, the Utopian Hours venue in Turin. © Utopian Hours.

The 2023 Utopian Hours programme covers a wealth of visionary urban ideas including future utopias, climate adaptation, urban regeneration, community building, future mobility, placemaking, urban data and imagining, experimental architecture including floating architecture, riversides and waterfronts.

Highlights of the talks programme on Fri 13, Sat 14 and Sun 15 October 2023 include the Dutch practices OKRA, responsible for socially geared climate resilient designs; UNStudio (Caroline Bos) and entrepreneur Peter Van Wingerden, creator of Rotterdam’s Floating Farm; Miami’s elevated metro, The Underline (Patrice Gillespie Smith), and the 11th St Bridge Park in Washington DC (Scott Kratz); The Loop, Dubai (Baharash Bagherian, Urb), setting new standards for sustainable urban mobility; ‘meanwhile placemaking’ to build new identities and functions explored by architect and urban strategist Petra Marko of Milk Collective who is leading a workshop on the subject.

Corso Farini, Turin, a community placemaking project conceived and led by Stratosferica in a public space next to the Einaudi University Campus, in collaboration with the City of Turin’s Department of Green Spaces and supported by Cities4Forests. © Stratosferica.

Equally unmissable are talks on the holistic, transdisciplinary urban approach of Bjarke Ingels Group (Giulia Frittoli, Senior Landscape Designer); Africa’s first Chief Heat Officer Eugenia Kargbo, Freetown, Sierra Leone; visionary London-based creative entrepreneur/developer Richard Upton (U+I); Hubert Beroche, founder of Urban AI interdisciplinary working group; Berlin’s cooperative space, Holzmarkt; and MIT’s Sustainable Materials Lab (Admir Masic).

Representatives from C40, the network of 100 mayors and leading cities actively fighting climate change around the world, will share its Reinventing Cities initiatives promoting innovative solutions to cities’ myriad of challenges.  8 roundtable workshops on urban innovation are also being staged with city officials, urban practitioners, experts and professionals from all over Italy, with the city of Verona being Utopian Hours’ guest city for the 2023 Festival, marked by a dedicated roundtable event.

As well as sharing original transdisciplinary knowledge on urban issues Stratosferica is also proactive in community placemaking activities to evolve urban quarters. At Corso Farini in Turin, where visitors can experience its convivial embrace of the local community, during the Utopian Hours Festival lunch will be served by a local traditional deli. The setting is a public space redevelopment project in a neglected area next to the Einaudi University Campus. Conceived by Stratosferica with the City of Turin’s Department of Green Public Space and supported by Cities4Forests, the project adheres to the principles of co-design, self-building, community building, urban ecology, social inclusion and forest conservation.

Precollinear Park, Turin, a meanwhile placemaking project conceived and led by Stratosferica. © Stratosferica.

Precollinear Park, Turin, a meanwhile placemaking project conceived and led by Stratosferica. © Stratosferica.

Stratosferica has also been responsible for formulating an innovative meanwhile placemaking project for the Precollinear Park in the city to reuse an urban void generated by an abandoned tramline. While trams are due to return in 2024, the scheme also generated international acclaim through awards and media coverage.

Details of the Utopian Hours 2023 festival programme and tickets to attend the full 3-day festival, including options for a professional pass with access to all events, full day pass, under 30s special and a steaming pass can be found here (English version). Italian version.

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