Master in Design for Public Spaces


Program Description

The Master Design for Public Spaces is a training program for designers of public spaces in contemporary cities through theory, research, design and practical training. It is proposed to train professionals able to develop projects of scenarios, processes and forms of open spaces, symbolic places in which the community recognizes itself.

We are experiencing an unprecedented moment of urban and demographic growth and cities are facing important social, economic and cultural issues. We have before us the challenge of giving shape to spaces that respond to new collective needs and offer multiple opportunities for use. What is required of them is an increasingly marked flexibility: once they have lost the character of specialized places, they ask to be able 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 must somehow know how to coexist.

The designer of the Public Spaces , works on areas not built 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 the processes involved to the processes of use that are established there. 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 partners 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 at the center of these changes the many questions of use coming from society and its new social actors.

It is an innovative Master, based on the long tradition of public space developed in Italy and in Europe and which feeds on the culture that has made 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, in the city of Madrid. And it uses an international faculty, which brings contributions from all over the world. It is an opportunity to improve specific professional skills in a high-level academic and professional context and allows you to gain direct experience of urban, historical and contemporary spaces, full of planning, sociality and symbolic meanings.

The Master 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 places and symbolic, but also of interstices, green spaces, semi-public spaces .

* 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 area of projects that design new forms and new ways of relating between users and between users and space.

* Equipment and furniture, materials and technologies. It is the area of material aspects that build space, but also of the technological components that structure its 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. It 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 events of a communicative, expository, celebratory, cultural nature.

Educational goals

The aim of the Master is to train the professional figure of the designer of urban public spaces, that is the 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 a value both functional and symbolic to urban spaces in the contemporary city;
  • 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 temporarily for cultural or commercial events, events, parties, shows;
  • 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 to activate appropriate strategies of dialogue and involvement.
  • ability to manage complex processes, from the conception to the development of innovative projects.

Employment openings

The program allows students to qualify to operate 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 in the role of public works and urban furniture managers
  • associations and non-profit organizations that operate internationally in urban regeneration processes or in developing contexts.

Title issued

At the end of the course, upon passing the final exam, a first level University Master's degree will be awarded in "Design for Public Spaces" of the Politecnico di Milano. 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 according to 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, shown below for information purposes :

  • 30 annual FP (CNI)
  • 15 CFP per year (CNAPPC)


The Master will be delivered in English.

The Master has a duration of one year.

Educational plan

Phase 1_ Courses / Workshops _Milan (9 weeks)

Lectures and workshops will address the issue of designing public spaces in contemporary cities. In particular, the following will be explored: processes, tools and aesthetics for the transformation of urban spaces in the short and medium term, for the enhancement of local urban identity and for connection with local communities. The workshops will address project themes such as: re-use, reversibility, event, entertainment, setting up, equipment for new functions.

Didactic modules:

  • Design for Contemporary Urban Interiors
  • Equipment and furniture, materials and technologies
  • Public space and social engagement: processes and action
  • Events and temporary settings

Stage 2_ Courses / Workshops _Madrid (9 weeks)

A period of study in a European city whose tradition in the design of public space has its roots in a design culture rooted in history but also in the contemporary world. The courses offered will address the taxonomy of a public space, investigating the various aspects related to planning and management through historical and contemporary case studies. The workshops will explore cases applied to the city of Madrid.

Didactic modules:

  • Fundamentals of Public Space
  • New Technologies and Public Space
  • Semantics of Public Space: Branding and Narrative Design
  • Management of Public Space: procedures and challenges

Phase 3_Joint Workshop (1 week)

An intensive workshop at a European partner site, where you can experience an approach to the project, experiencing a further experience in a different urban context.

Phase 4_Tirocinio and Final Project (600 hours)

Following the completion of courses and workshops, the internship brings students in direct contact with the professional world.

It will take place at companies and institutions in the public and private sectors for a duration of 600 hours.

The final thesis project (FTP) involves the reworking of the work done during the internship or the proposal of an autonomous project and its return through theoretical and design in-depth studies.

How to participate

Admission requirements

The University Master's Degree is reserved for candidates with a University Diploma or VO Degree, Degree or Master's Degree / Master's Degree in Architecture, Design, Interior Design, Interior Architecture, Set Design, Fine Arts and for candidates with equivalent qualifications .

The number of admitted students is 20.

The selections will be made in chronological order with respect to the date of receipt of the application, until all available places have been filled. The selection will be by the Commission.

The Master is provided in English.

Admission procedure

To participate in the selections it is necessary to fill in the selection request online within the following deadlines:

  • Italian / foreign citizens with educational qualifications obtained in Italy by December 2019
  • Non-EU citizens with a degree obtained abroad by November 2019


The total cost of the course is € 12,500.00.

The cost of the course is divided into:

  • Registration fee at the Politecnico di Milano € 500.00 per student;
  • Participation fee for the Master, amounting to € 12,000.00 per student.


The University Master will start in January 2020 and end at the end of January 2021.

Last updated Mar 2020

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