The School of the Suburbs – Citizens Make the City

A school without classrooms empowers Milanese citizens to participate in city planning and go from designing to realising neighbourhood projects. 


The Scuola dei Quartieri (School of the Suburbs) is a project of the Municipality of Milan to increase the planning capacity of its citizens. Milan currently leaves large parts of its community at the social and geographical margins, needing urgent improvements for its neighbourhoods. Scuola dei Quartieri is part of the Municipal strategy to develop innovatively and inclusively. 


The "School" is a public service, free, open, and accessible to anyone who wants to design and work to change their neighbourhood, without age or educational restrictions. The Scuola dei Quartieri does not have classrooms and takes place where people live and work: in social spaces, in offices, in shops, in backrooms, and so forth. 

The School's activity occurs in cycles, although several elements overlap. (1) Before the public call: the municipality holds open meetings, lessons, and seminars to discuss the problems and potential of the neighbourhood, to get to know the area and build collaborative networks. (2) Didactic activity to support the submission of applications: workshops on planning and submitting the project idea. (3) Advanced training courses: twenty informal groups are selected to participate in a 100-hour intensive training course, learning to design and transform ideas into projects. (4) The municipality awards up to EUR 25,000 to enable the realisation of projects along with the customised services that accompany them.


The low access threshold allows the project to open spaces and create opportunities for as many people as possible. The project builds widespread capacity for urban planning and transformation, supports open innovation, and produces a new generation of city-makers in an inclusive community. The added value of the School of the Suburbs is the creation of a community of supporters. For example, hashtags like #BELLASTORIA (beautiful story) narrate positive neighbourhood experiences in which associations, committees, artisan shops, and representatives of private or public places are the protagonists of small innovation stories who, in different ways, make the city. EU Pon Metro Milan 2014-2020 supports the project financially, with the assistance of a network of organisations specialised in community development and supporting entrepreneurship and social innovation. 

Developing a new generation of city-makers, creating opportunities for as many people as possible, building widespread capacity for urban planning and transformation: this is part of my strategy for an innovative and inclusive city supporting forms of open innovation.

Cristina Tajani - Cabinet Member of Business, Commerce, Human Resources Division in the Municipality of Milan
Project owner
Cristina Tajani
Cabinet Member of Business, Commerce, Human Resources Division in the Municipality of Milan