This review of Italy’s large-scale regeneration projects shows how much the different programmes have in common. Despite their varied geographical locations on plain, hillside or lagoon, and regardless of whether urban brownfield sites or rural settings, publicly, privately or jointly sponsored, they are all geared to quality purposes and lasting sustainability of those results in terms of low energy consumption and safeguard of a common good that is our environment. Another unifying element is the attention given to blending revitalisation projects into their specific environment, and integrating new architectures into their context. Proposals aim to reinforce a particular identity and create close connections between architecture and function. This is underpinned by a basic principle to preserve and continue the mixed-use urban typology that has been key to the development of our urban systems.
It is an approach that also guides the “city within a city” concept behind some of the projects. Other commonalities include the importance given to pedestrian spaces linking public and private green areas and the realisation that our built environment must have physical and visual connections with the specific geographical setting. All these elements form a common grammar from which a wide range of urban and architectural solutions have sprung.
A concept developed by Pier Paolo Maggiora with his Studio ArchA, the LagunaVerde masterplan stretches over an area of about 810.000 sq m partially occupied by the Pirelli Gomme factory, which is due to be refitted.
A city raised above a lagoon of green belt areas, such is the project concept. The operation plays a strategic role in that it connects and completes a vast system of green areas. The clustering together of large industrial complexes had gradually eroded precious areas on the northern outskirts of the city, creating a wasp-waist in a large green corridor. There is now a chance to restore the landscape and the natural ground to the city and to attain high levels of urban architecture with attention to the environment and ecology.
Cars and other means of transport approach at ground level through the countryside; multistorey car parks precincts rising from the ground will form the cornerstones of the new town plan: above this system of greenery, the city will be reached by a system of footbridges, ramps, gardens, squares and surrounding architecture, which will breathe life into the new urban hub. The space of the city will be laid out in diverse planning solutions, rich in glimpses of gardens lying below, interspersed with squares and hanging gardens, distant sights of the Alps and foothills which would otherwise be concealed by infrastructure and existing industrial buildings.
The pedestrian and cycle ways will form part of the overhead connecting routes, running along green embankments and through parks. Besides being situated in a spectacular natural and cultural setting, LagunaVerde will occupy a strategic position close to the numerous companies operating in the most diverse sectors, and thanks to its vicinity to connecting infrastructures can directly interact with the research and training centres of the Turin area. It will be a new district equipped with many of the typical functions of a quality urban area, which will allow its inhabitants to live in an environment that is truly rich in stimuli and an array of services of international calibre.
From an initiative by the Addamiano group comes this redevelopment of the former Lombarda Petroli refinery, a run-down area in Villasanta, a municipality to the north of Monza. The aim is to recover the industrial site that is unused today, reclaiming for the people an area that is immersed in greenery as well as rich in useful public functions and services. The masterplan, drawn up by Massimo Roj in collaboration with designers and experts from the Milan Polytechnic, draws inspiration from the concept of sustainability. In the north-west quadrant there will be a large square, the heart of the new settlement and an element connecting with the historical centre of Villasanta. Starting from the square, the district broadens out to embrace the essentially tertiary and commercial functions, housed in buildings that form a protective barrier separating the residential sector from the adjacent railway area.
The spaces destined for private residences are set amid the greenery. Further away as from the area’s green heart, there are light manufacturing buildings. Inside the new productive sector there will not be any “heavy” raw material manufacturing activities, but service provision and trading / distribution of goods. Two refinery tanks will be preserved, as a tribute to the productive past of the Lombarda Petroli site; they will remain as points linking certain pedestrian walkways in the park or as carpark areas.
The CasaNova project is a new residential building operation, fully Class A certified, currently taking shape in an outlying part of Bolzano city. In order to deal with the growing demand for buildings in a territory that is part of a delicate environmental system, CasaNova has attempted to try out a process of urban densification based on the search for and testing of newely conceived settlement models.
At the root of the plan are living and environmental quality, besides the objectives of communication and participation. The new settlement, working to high standards of building typology and morphology, service provision, equipment and green areas, as well as internal mobility due to low traffic levels, chimes in with the existing city particularly in regard to the system of urban greenery, mobility and public transport.
The masterplan design was entrusted to an interdisciplinary workgroup coordinated by Frits van Dongen, which adopted a highly participatory method. The result of this work, and subsequent implementation plan, respects the delicate city-countryside balance, maintains internal quality in the new district but also upgrades the pre-existing neighbourhood of Ortles-Similaun, which can benefit from the new environmental assets and the services provided for CasaNova. Block EA7, designed by Christoph Mayr Fingerle, has just been completed.
VEGA (VEnice GAteway for Science and Technologies) is the network between University, research centres and the manufacturing sector for the promotion and development of scientific research fostering knowledge transfer as well as boosting technological growth and business competitiveness.
For over ten years VEGA has been working in the industrial area of Marghera, one of the largest in Europe, with the aim of converting and transforming it radically according to a new conception of industrial development and services.
The VEGA development is situated in a strategic geographical position in the heart of north-eastern Italy’s economic system, close to the old centre of Venice, just a few minutes from the “Marco Polo” international airport, from the commercial harbour and the main water, road and rail infrastructures. It divides into four contiguous areas forming an area of about 35 hectares allocated by the Venice territorial development plan for the creation of a science and technology park in which, within the next ten years, there will be 1.000 companies employing 10.000 people. Here, inside the roughly 9-hectare portion called VEGA 2 (ex-Agip coastal depots), 120.000 cubic metres of innovative bio-sustainable architectural complexes are due to be built. Their position inside the strategic development plan will obviously bring business tie-ups and favour medium-large concerns especially in the sectors of ICT and digital media, nano- and biotechnologies, the environment and cultural heritage, and advanced training.
VEGA 2 overlooks an important waterway connected to the lagoon, whose shores can be equipped for mooring of internal navigation lines. The urban planning measures as currently applied envisage provide for buildings up to a total of 64.000 sq m, spread out around pedestrian squares, green belts and car parks.
Apart from the built-up areas, there will be a Waterfront Park, a large park of around 7 hectares, with open-air recreational spaces facing the Venetian lagoon. VEGA 2 will be connected with all the islands, the Venice historic centre and the park of San Giuliano, one of the oldest parks in Europe, by means of boats and water-taxis.
The Parco Ottavi project, realised by Isolarchitetti and the Centro Cooperativo di Progettazione on an agricultural wedge left in the western flank of the growing city, spreads across 53 hectares of intervention area, some 30 hectares of which are destined for public use and about 23 hectares for private building, with an overall surface available of more than 131,000 square metres.
The new district is to develop around a large central park overlooked by a series of spaces with differing functions: the residential squares or courtyards, a large artificial hill containing tertiary and service functions, an area destined for school buildings, a sports and leisure area. Inside the park there will be a close network of paths and cycle routes, connected to existing ones and separate from the roads. There will be a new station on the railway line, artificially interred, adjacent to the car and bicycle park with possible transport connections.
From the urban park at the centre of the composition a swathe of greenery will run through the residential courtyards, join up with the houses’ hanging gardens, surmount infrastructural barriers hosting services and commercial activities, and help revive the former way of living and getting about on the outskirts of a consolidated city.
The projects of Parco Ottavi won the Sustainability Award Competition 2007 in the Urban Planning category promoted by Bioecolab.
Trilogia Navile is an architectural urban upgrade to the area of the ex-Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable market in the Navile district of Bologna, close to the old centre, to the north of the railway station and close to the new civic offices. The area has been appointed an international design competition, won by practices Cino Zucchi Architetti of Milan and JSWD Architekten of Cologne.
At Trilogia Navile Cino Zucchi will chiefly look after the residential and commercial buildings, about 70% of the operation; while JWSD Architekten will focus on the remaining part, with its management office buildings. The winning projects were chosen for the way they optimised surfaces, the relationship between public and private spaces, innovation from the energy perspective, elegance and sobriety of the architecture. Declared aim is continuity with the city’s old centre, and extending the same criteria just beyond the new high-speed train station.
The project for the new station, made by Arata Isozaki Associati, bears in mind the need to stitch together the city beyond the railway line. To this end they propose a bridge-station that leaves the pre-existing architecture towards the historical centre unaltered, limiting the construction of new buildings on the fringe of the historical urban network. The sequence of new volumes corresponds to the 19th century urban pattern: the new station retains certain buildings and extends them over the tracks. In order to fit in with the city skyline the project will respect a maximum height of 20 metres throughout.
The area of the Perugia Policlinico, about 67.000 sq m, is situated close to the centre and in a hillside position of great landscape and artistic value. Originally occupied by a monastery, it comprises a set of buildings for hospital activities, already in the process of being transferred to a new facility.
The operation seeks to bridge the gap caused by the transfer and to reconstruct a part of the city keeping continuity of urban spaces and mixing residential, commercial, management, reception and service buildings. The general design is the result of an ideas competition won by the German practice Bolles+Wilson for the respect and the sensitivity it showed towards the size of Monteluce, the morphological compatibility with the urban structure of Perugia and the harmonious relationship with the landscape.
The project avoids dominant buildings in favour of a sequence of ‘made to measure’ solutions characterised by difference of building type and outstanding scenic views. In order to respect the lie of the land, the new structures occupy the grounds of the old, where possible, maintaining the pre-existing terrace system and most of the vegetation, which abounds in protected species. The project exploits the lie of the land, positioning the buildings and their different tiers in a balance between nature and built-up area.
Colle di Val d’Elsa, a town with 20.000 inhabitants in the province of Siena, well-known for being the birthplace of the architect Arnolfo di Cambio and Italian “capital” of the production of crystal, has started up an articulated and innovative urban redevelopment programme that goes by the name of “Fabbrica Colle”. It was started in 2004 to revive the medieval centre of Colle Alta and the 19th century area of Colle Bassa, extended in 2007 to the whole of the municipal territory, involving a multidisciplinary work group coordinated by architect Iginio Rossi.
The fulcrum of the complex programme is the plan by architect Jean Nouvel which is to reclaim the crystal-producing area, the Fabbrichina, dating back to the early 20th century and later abandoned, and to upgrade and valorise the whole city, consequently renovating other urban sites, amongst which the city centre car park, the lift connecting the two parts of the city and Piazza Arnolfo.
The ex-premises of the Fabbrichina will be restored, stripping them of the additions made over the course of time, and converted to service activities. Further downstream, Nouvel has designed a residential complex characterised by their contemporary and pathbreaking architecture. The operation is completed by the building of a trade centre and a visual arts centre.
The revival and transformation of the old Manifattura Tabacchi complex is an outstanding opportunity for urban upgrade at Cava de’ Tirreni and the chance to regain possession of an area that had become isolated, impassable, unknown. In line with the overall municipal strategy to boost production in this cigar-manufacturing town (an activity which is now being conducted in a new factory), the current owners have engaged SECI Real Estate to develop a project that will valorise a whole sector of the town. The original building will be fitted out as a high-quality hotel structure, free areas will be identified for collective use, while the area to the rear will be connected to the town by means of a mixed residential and commercial building, designed by Studio Archea with shops on the ground floor, whose particular design configuration will give the operation a wide range of visual effects.
To have regained areas that were previously inaccessible to the public represents a great resource for the historic centre which will thus enjoy a new sequence of pedestrian routes, open spaces, gardens, a small square and an adequate endowment of underground car parks, both public and private, that will benefit the city as a whole.