Mapping San Siro lab

Experimenting grounded, interactive and mutual learning for inclusive cities


  • Francesca Cognetti
  • Ida Castelnuovo Polytechnic University of Milan




action learning, situated approach, knowledge, public housing, inclusive cities


The paper proposes a reflection on the Mapping San Siro experience, a five-year action learning project, promoted by the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies in collaboration with Polisocial, the public engagement program of Politecnico di Milano. The project is currently ongoing in one of the largest public estates in Milan, known as San Siro. It aims at experimenting a pedagogical environment based on grounded, interactive, action-oriented and hybrid learning, reflecting how new approaches can enrich the experience of educational practices for the inclusive city. The paper addresses a series of issues, which emerge from this experience, reflecting on situated learning, the co-production of knowledge with community partners, and an action-oriented teaching practice. In this paper, a reflection on the pedagogical and social outcomes of the experience is also proposed.

How to Cite

Cognetti, F., & Castelnuovo, I. (2019). Mapping San Siro lab: Experimenting grounded, interactive and mutual learning for inclusive cities. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 3(1), 37–54.








Bang, Henrik P. (2005) Among everyday makers and expert citizens. In Newman, Janet (ed) Remaking governance: peoples, politics and public sphere. Bristol: The Policy Press, pp.159-178.

Benneworth, Paul and Jorge Cunha (2015) Universities contribution to social innovation: Reflection in theory & practice, European Journal of Innovation Management, 18 (4), pp.508-527.

Butin, Dan W. (2003) Of what use is it? Multiple conceptualizations of service learning within education. Teachers College Record, 105 (9), pp.1674-1692.

Castelnuovo, Ida and Francesca Cognetti (2013) The double responsibility of public engagement: Reflections from the Polisocial Program. In Nash, Eliza J., Nevin C. Brown and Lavinia Bracci (eds) Intercultural Horizons Volume II: Intercultural Strategies in Civic Engagement. Cambridge: Scholars Press, pp.41-55.

Cellamare, Carlo (2014) Self-organization, appropriation of places and production of urbanity. In Cognetti, Francesca and Carlos Cellamare (eds) Practices of reappropriation. Planum Publisher, Roma-Milano, Publication available on www.

Cognetti, Francesca (2014) What forms of participation today? Forms, pressures, competences. In Cognetti, Francesca and Carlos Cellamare (eds) Practices of reappropriation. Planum Publisher, Roma-Milano, Publication available on www.

Cognetti, Francesca (2016) Ricerca-azione e università. Produzione di conoscenza, inclusività e diritti. Territorio, 78, pp.40-46.

Cognetti, Francesca and Liliana Padovani (2017) New meanings for public housing through the co-production of knowledge - Policies for everyday life in marginal neighbourhoods. In Bargelli, Elena and Thorsten Heitkamp (eds) New Developments in Southern European Housing. Pisa University Press, Pisa.

Concilio, Grazia (2016) Urban living labs: Opportunities in and for planning. In Concilio, Grazia and Francesca Rizzo (eds) Human smart cities: Rethinking the interplay between design and planning. Springer, pp.21-40.

De Carli, A. Beatrice (2014) Informal trajectories of housing in San Siro, Milan. In Cognetti, Francesca and Carlos Cellamare (eds) Practices of reappropriation. Planum Publisher, Roma-Milano, Publication available on

Dewey, John (1938) Experience and education. New York: Macmillan.

Fourie, Magda (2003) Beyond the ivory tower: Service learning for sustainable community development. South African Journal for Higher Education, 17 (1), pp.31-38.

Freire, Paulo (1970) Pedagogy of the oppressed. NewYork: Herder & Herder.

Gronski, Robert and Kenneth Pigg (2000) University and community collaboration: Experiential learning in human services. American Behavioral Scientist, 43 (5), pp.781- 792.

Hannerz, Ulf (1996) Transnational Connections. Culture, people and places, New York: Routledge London.

Ingold, Tim (2013) Making: Anthropology, archeology, art and architecture. New York: Routledge.

Jiusto, Scott, Stephen McCauley and Jennie C. Stephens (2013) Integrating shared action learning into Higher Education for sustainability. Journal of Sustainability Education, 5,

Karvonen, Andrew and Bas Van Heur (2014) Urban laboratories: Experiments in reworking cities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38 (2), pp.379-392.

Kolb, David A. (1984) Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice.

Kolb, Alice Y. and David A. Kolb (2005) Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4 (2), pp.193-212.

Lave, Jane and Etienne Wenger (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Marconi, Giovanna and Elena Ostanel (eds) (2016) The intercultural city: Migration, minorities and the management of diversity. London: IB Tauris.

McFarlane, Colin (2011) Learning the city: Knowledge and translocal assemblage. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Mitrasinovic, Miodrag (2015) Concurrent urbanities: Design, civil society, and infrastructures of inclusion. In Mitrasinovic, Miodrag (ed) Concurrent urbanities: Designing infrastructures of inclusion. New York: Routledge, pp.179-203.

Nussbaum, Martha C. (2010) Not for profit. Why democracy needs the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Oldfield, Sophie (2008) Who’s serving whom? Partners, process, and products in service-learning project in South African urban geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 32 (2), pp.269-285.

Parnell, Susan and Edgar Pieterse (2010) Realising the ‘right to the city’: Institutional imperatives for tackling urban poverty. International Journal for Urban and Regional Research, 34 (1), pp.146-162.

Perrone, Camilla (2015) Planning with communities: Resistance, contingencies and adaptions. AESOP Planning Education, 3, pp.46-51.

Reardon, Kenneth M. (2006) Promoting reciprocity within community/university development partnerships: Lessons from the field. Planning Practice and Research, 21, pp.95-107.

Reason, Peter and Hilary Bradbury (2001) Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice. London: Sage.

Saija, Laura (2014) Writing about engaged scholarship: Misunderstandings and the meaning of “quality” in action research publications. Planning Theory & Practice, 15 (2), pp.187-201.

Sassen, Saskia (2008) Territory, authority, rights: From medieval to global assemblages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Schuetze, Hans G. (2012) Universities and their communities-engagement and service as primary mission. In Mcllrath, Lorraine, Ann Lyons and Ronaldo Munk (eds) Higher Education and Civic Engagement. Comparative Perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.61-77.

Silberberg, Susan (2013) Places in the making: How placemaking builds places and communities. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tapia, Maria Nieves (2012) Academic Excellence and Community Engagement: Reflections on the Latin American Experience. In Mcllrath, Lorraine, Ann Lyons and Ronaldo Munk (eds) Higher Education and Civic Engagement. Comparative Perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.187-203.

United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) (2017) New Urban Agenda, Habitat III, Quito, Ecuador.

Vertovec, Steven (2014) Super-diversity. London and New York: Routledge.

Wiewel, Wim and David Broski (1997) University involvement in the community. Developing a partnership model. (