Massimiliano is an urban designer and, as he defines himself, “an observer of cities and people”. His design is based on people and their interaction with space. Recently, Massimiliano founded Persone, an urban design studio that aims to apply the human scale as a common denominator to the different project sizes and typologies.
1. Can you tell us more about Persone Studio?
Persone is an urban design studio. Our work is a crossover of different disciplines: urban design, placemaking, place branding, wayfinding. We create places for people with cultural, social, and economic value for the benefit of our clients and the community. We are community activators. When we look at a building, we see the opportunity for a successful business. When we look at a space, we see the opportunity for people to be part of the community and feel comfortable doing what they like.
2. How did you come up with the idea of transforming the existing sidewalk into an urban pathway for the community?
I am a resident of Kennedy Town and an urban designer. I want to help and support our community. So I launched this self-initiated Civic Project, the West Point Street Line, to identify possible solutions to improve the quality of our neighbourhoods. I conducted 4 months of observation in Kennedy Town and Shek Tong Tsui and came up with a Vision Plan.
Two were the main problems encountered. The lack of public spaces in the district where everybody could do whatever they want. A discontinuous promenade disconnected from the neighbourhoods.
For years, everyone (residents, visitors, business owners, developers, government) relied on the illegal access to “Instagram Pier” to find what poor city planning was not able to provide.
In fact, Instagram Pier was connecting the fragmented Belcher Bay promenade to the Central and Western Promenade and as well it was providing a flexible public space for everybody far from the city traffic.
The purpose of my study was to find an alternative to Instagram Pier. I had the vision that part of the existing sidewalks along the Route 4 (separating the waterfront and Sai Wan District) could become an urban pathway that offers public spaces for everybody shaded by the existing trees and the flyover. A safe pedestrian and cycling pathway together with sitting areas, playgrounds, exercise areas, a pet park, a basketball court, a skateboard park and more…. The West Point Street Line is a community’s asset to improve the public life quality for everyone.
3. Have you got good support from the community and the District Councilors for your vision?
After the closure of Instagram Pier to the public, the West Point Street Line proposal received interest from NGOs, District Councilors, and Authorities.
On May 6th, I was invited to present the proposal to the Central & Western District Council. At the meeting were present representatives from different GOV departments.
The proposal received full support from each District Councilor, and I have been asked to continue to support the District Council, on a voluntary basis, to develop ideas for possible Pilot Projects to demonstrate the strength of this proposal.
What further support are you looking for?
I am looking for supporters and sponsors, who are interested in our community, to continue developing this civic initiative.
The next step is to partner with community stakeholders, identify social, cultural, and commercial opportunities to guide the future development of our neighbourhoods.
4. From your perspective, what are the responsibilities of an urban designer for the neighbourhood and the community?
I believe that to help to improve our neighbourhood we should be more than just designers, we should be the catalysts of the dialogue between all the community stakeholders (people, business owners, developers, authorities) and guide them to reach the individual and common well-being.
5. As an urban designer, in today’s world, what can you do to ensure that your design is built with sustainability in mind?
I am trying to promote a sustainable way of living and a sustainable way to plan our neighbourhoods.