arcVision 16 – The Color of the Future


The “color of the future” in the economic and urban planning scenario: innovation, competition and knowledge economy. The European continent described as set for a strong recovery.


Research is Development

The widening research gap between Europe and the other geopolitical systems is a serious threat to our continent’s long-term competitiveness in innovation, growth and employment. The goal agreed by the Member States in Lisbon in 2000 and ratified by the European Council in Barcelona in March 2002 is to turn Europe into the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, by raising research expenditure from 1.9% to 3% of GDP by 2010 and boosting private financing to 2/3 of total funding. This ambitious target was subsequently confirmed by the European Commission in April 2003 with “Investing in research: an action plan for Europe”, a program setting out specific measures to raise R&D investment to an annual average of 8%, based on annual 6% growth in public spending and annual 9% growth in private investment.

Four years away from the 2010 deadline, in June 2006 the Strasbourg Parliament and the European Commission approved the Seventh Framework Program (FP7): with more than 53 billion euro to invest in scientific research and technological innovation (from 2007 to 2013), FP7 is the most decisive move to date toward achieving the Lisbon strategy.

A great deal still needs to be done if Europe is to catch up with its main competitors: according to data that is anything but comforting, the USA invest almost 3% of GDP in research, Japan invests in excess of 3%, and the R&D expenditure growth rate among the emerging Asian economies is into double digits.
As far as human resources are concerned, the European Union has 5.5 researchers for every 1,000 workers, compared with 9.0 in the USA and 9.7 in Japan.

In this scenario, the Seventh Framework Program is nevertheless a significant step forward: first, because it doubles research spending for the next seven years and, second, because almost 10% of spending will now be managed in Brussels on the basis of a cohesive, unified policy, hopefully eliminating the piecemeal approach that so far has obstructed efficient research policy planning in Europe.
In the belief that the Old Continent possesses the resources and expertise to bridge the technology gap and recover its capacity for innovation and competition, the Italcementi Cav. Lav. Carlo Pesenti Foundation asked a panel of distinguished experts from the institutional, industrial and academic communities to outline possible scenarios for the future, at a round table organized in Bergamo in December. This special issue of arcVision on a future European knowledge economy offers a summary of their ideas and proposals.

And if there really is a direct link between stagnant economies and gray cities, between traditional models at crisis point and colorless urban landscapes, Europe’s hope for a brightly colored future also extends to the Projects section, which looks at the tonal resonances of a series of decidedly futuristic buildings: architecture for tomorrow in a synthesis of innovative technology and exquisite polychromy.

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