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Co-generation Plant

A Cathedral to Energy

Andrea Oliva architetto

Co-generation Plant
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -

The question of brownfield sites is central to the current debate on the contemporary city. Often the result of a changing industrial scene and the advent of an age heralded by Rifkin as ushering in the “end of work”, these urban wastelands form an integral part of our western cityscapes, a feature we have become accustomed to. They are part of the darker side of our cities; swathes of land suspended between desolation and expectation - expectation of regeneration that can only come about, however, within the framework of a regional revitalization plan where these areas are the focus for local community upgrade. The co-generation plant by Andrea Oliva in Fidenza, in the province of Parma, Italy, falls within this category. More than 70 years ago this abandoned site hosted one of Italy’s largest chemical plants. Located to the north of the railway yard for logistic reasons, the district developed into a sort of second city. Once abandoned, it left a huge contaminated wasteland in need of fundamental remediation to be of any new use. A national plan got underway in 1981 led to several important environmental reclamation interventions. As a result, the Fidenza authorities added 10 ha of land for collective and productive reuse. The area - one of whose distinguishing features is its excellent accessibility - has been given a new lease of life as a prime location for tertiary sector, technical research and production activities for which the region is a national leader. An obvious follow-on to the new environment-friendly development was a co-generation plant to supply energy to both the newly established businesses, but also to part of the old town. The co-generation plant is on two levels: one below grade, keeping out of sight the network of pipes delivering heat to the surrounding area and beyond the boundary of the railway track into the old town; and an above ground level housing the co-generation plant proper. Oliva proved his architectural...

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