The article outlines a few research paths that may help to explore the roots of the ‘planning standards’ introduced in Italy in 1968. Four lines of investigation are proposed, respectively dealing with the role played by experts within and around the Ministry of Public Works; the definition of models of intervention for the design of publicly promoted, newly built neighborhoods and housing complexes; the experiences of quantification linked to planning manuals and to a number of exemplary planning documents; finally, the new demands emerging from civil society. The analysis
revolves around three thematic focuses, namely, technical bureaucracies, design cultures, and social innovation. These can also provide the center for a much-neeeded debate concerning the re-use and mutual connection of these urban materials: planning standards have left a legacy of places, practices and experiences that can play a crucial role in shaping the future transformation of Italian cities.
Keywords: Planning standards; technical bureaucracies; design culture