One can tell that Francesco Tonucci (Fano, 1940) is fond of the urban refurbishment of Pontevedra, which has known how to capture Tonucci´s concepts in the city. The author of ´The City of Children´ is restless about praising each and every inch of Pontevedra city reforms, which therein contains all of the recommendations he has given to all cities for several decades.
-How did your model city turn out to be a leading example for the Pontevedra administration ?
-15 years ago, I met the Pontevedra mayor at a conference and he introduced me to the crowd saying that the city was my home. This was because they based the city planning on my ideas. Those who are in charge of the cities, usually, say that my concepts are interesting, but they must wait at least 2 or 3 years to set things in motion due to traffic and road safety issues. And in the end, these issues never get solved. Pontevedra is a leading example, in which cars and people can get along with each other giving preferential treatment to people.
-Is the challenge now to carry out this project in larger cities?
-My project is based on a model with 4 bullet points : first, give preferential treatment to children over adults; second, give preferential treatment to pedestrians over cars; third, build up the concept of neighborhoods not the concept of a city per se; and fourth, give preferential treatment to leisure areas rather than work areas. Pontevedra is also interesting because it´s neither a large city nor is a neighborhood per se. They have implemented policies about refurbishing the open and public spaces for pedestrians, which had been previously taken over by the private sector. I figure this sort of model here can be exported to other larger cities.
-What´s the role of colleges and schools in spreading this city idea that you are positing?
-Im urging the administration in Pontevedra to become also educators in order to spread this model and concept because they have the right attitude to do it so. I have also spoken with people in charge at the University of Santiago to research about projects like the one in Pontevedra and they must thoroughly research within a wider scope. I believe you must study this model from different academic disciplines and insights such as architecture, economy, social services, etc. It is the very first city in Europe which has taken seriously this project, and I hope that is a leading example to many other cities worldwide. I like a lot what´s been happening in Pontevedra because its something that belongs to us and now you can tell the Italian city mayors, for example, that a model like this is not only posible in the north of Europe but here too.