Design for public space
Urban interior design in contemporary cities
II Edition - in Italian
October 2021

The Specializing Master in Design for Public Space is a training program for public spaces designers in contemporary cities that comprehend theory, research, design and practical training. It is proposed to train professionals to be able to develop projects of scenarios, processes and forms of open spaces, symbolic places in which the community can recognize itself.
We are experiencing an unprecedented moment of urban and demographic growth and cities are facing important social, economic and cultural issues. We deal with the challenge of shaping spaces that respond to new collective needs and offer multiple opportunities for use. What is nowadays required is an increasingly marked flexibility: once the character of specialized places is lost, cities are asked to adapt to an ever wider number of activities: exhibitions, spectacular events, markets, parties, political events. These are places where the private and collective dimensions have to learn somehow know how to coexist.
The designer of the Public Space operates on non-built areas such as squares, streets, parks, roundabouts and other undefined urban voids, taking into consideration both the container (the built form) and the content (the uses, even temporary). The design of Public Spaces requires a complex design approach, capable of combining different factors: from the urban configuration to its role in civil life, from existing participatory processes to the processes of use that are established. The Master offers analysis tools, scenario generation and innovative concepts; develops skills in managing processes and relationships with all the players involved; deals with project cases "in the field" in which one is confronted with real stakeholders and clients. The training activity will be based on the adoption of two observation methods, two different though complementary views: one addressed to the temporary city and the other to the contemporary city. One more interested in short-term transformations and the other in deeper changes: both, however, aimed at putting the many questions of use coming from society and its new social actors at the center of these changes.
It is an innovative Specializing Master, based on the long tradition of public space developed in Italy and in Europe and which is fed on the culture that made the city of Milan a recognized capital of design in the world. The training proposal is also enriched by the contributions of other European excellences, such as the prestigious ESNE school of Madrid. It also calls on an international faculty, which brings contributions from all over the world. Improving specific professional skills in a high-level academic and professional context is an opportunity that allows to gain direct experience of urban, historical and contemporary spaces, full of planning, sociality and symbolic meanings.
The Specializing Master in Design for Public Spaces in particular addresses the complexity of contemporary urban interiors by investigating 5 project areas:
* Contemporary urban interior: design and semantic. It is the ambit of the urban space project in the narrowest sense, and covers all outdoor and public areas: it is the project of squares, meeting and symbolic places, but also of interstices, green spaces, semi-public areas.
* Public space and social engagement: processes and actions. It is the area of the preparatory processes for the project, aimed at involving multiple stakeholders with human (or community) -centered design tools and approaches. It is also the context of projects that design new forms and new ways of relating between users and between users and spaces.
* Equipment and furniture, materials and technologies. This covers the ambit of the material aspects that build a space, but also the technological components that structure the interaction. It is aimed at enhancing the perceptive and sensory components of space, with a view to environmental and social sustainability.
* Communication, identity and territory: city branding and narrative design. This is the ambit of the project that interfaces with a territorial scale or with the identity and the tangible and intangible heritage of the places, with a strategic and systemic approach.
* Events and temporary settings: It is the ambit of the project of ephemeral devices for the development of temporary activities in the urban space, such as collective communicative, expository, celebratory, cultural events.


The aim of the Specializing Master is to train the professional figure of the designer of urban public spaces, that is a designer able to act on the redevelopment of the non-built areas of the city: squares, systems of road spaces, interstitial or unresolved areas, gardens and urban courtyards, terrains vague.
Specific training objectives are aimed at developing the following skills:
  • ability to analyze the different urban contexts and the elements that influence and shape the collective spaces in order to provide new solutions in line with contemporary social, cultural and economic needs;
  • ability to equip, make hospitable and attractive, to attribute to urban spaces in the contemporary city a both functional and symbolic value;
  • ability to design equipment and furnishing systems, communication systems, materials and lighting, flows and colors useful to the public space;
  • ability to set up urban spaces for cultural or commercial events, events, parties, shows temporarily;
  • ability to govern urban and territorial enhancement strategies, through the redevelopment and regeneration of public spaces;
  • ability to understand the network of actors involved in the processes of transformation of public space and activate adequate strategies for dialogue and involvement.
  • ability to manage complex processes, from the conception to the development of innovative projects.    

Job description and final assessment

The program allows students to qualify to work in the private and public sector, both as freelance consultants and as integrated in complex organizations such as:
  • architectural firms, engineering companies, urban infrastructure design companies
  • companies operating in the production of materials, furnishings, equipment for outdoor spaces
  • agencies operating in the development of strategies for communication and urban marketing
  • agencies operating in the sector of cultural enhancement or organization of events
  • companies operating in the redevelopment and enhancement of abandoned tertiary and commercial industrial areas
  • public administrations acting as managers of public works and urban furniture 
  • associations and non-profit organizations that operate internationally in urban regeneration processes or in developing contexts.

Degree awarded

At the end of the course, upon passing the final exam, a first level University Master's degree of the Politecnico di Milano will be awarded in "DESIGN FOR PUBLIC SPACES". The final exam will consist in the presentation and discussion of a paper developed during the Master's course. The Master issues 60 credits, equivalent to 60 ECTS. Upon successful completion of the qualification, subject to communication in accordance with the procedures established by the Territorial Order to which it belongs and subsequent confirmation by the same, the participant will be able to obtain a number of CFP equal to those established by the current Regulations, as indicated here below for information purposes :

  • 30 FP per year (CNI) 
  • 15 CFP per year (CNAPPC) 
At the end of the course, students who pass the final examination will receive a joint first-level Specializing Master in "DESIGN FOR PUBLIC SPACES" from the Politecnico di Milano.
The final exam will consist of the presentation and discussion of a paper carried out during the Master.
The Specializing Master grants 60 credits, equivalent to 60 ECTS. 

Know more

Design for public space


Tuition and Fees
Total charges for the Specializing Master are € 12.500,00.
For POLIMI students, € 11,500.
deadline: 31 marzo 2021
Design topics
  • Contemporary urban interior: design and semantic
  • Public space and social engagement: processes and actions
  • Equipment and furniture, materials and technologies
  • Communication, identity and territory: city branding and narrative design
  • Events and temporary settings
Teaching Plan

The Specializing Master will begin in October 2021 and will end in December 2022.

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