The drainage systems planned for the Chorus Life development will recover some 11.35 M gallons (42.98 M L) of rainwater per annum, sufficient to irrigate over five hectares of crops. This is just one of the benefits that this future district of Bergamo will create. During periods of extreme drought, such as the one that has affected Italy since early 2022, this is even more significant. This, and a host of other data, were highlighted in a study carried out by The European House – Ambrosetti on the Chorus Life project that was intended to measure the impact of the project on the quality of life of the place and the needs of its people. Developed by Costim and promoted by Polifin, the project is now nearing completion.
Chorus Life is the translation into reality of a visionary idea of businessman and Italian Order of Merit for Labor recipient Domenico Bosatelli, who passed away on June 13. Following a meeting with architect Joseph di Pasquale, his vision began to take shape, with a square, a sports arena, a hotel, a sports and leisure center, and a retail precinct, along with restaurants and bars, all seen as a new challenge in the name of innovation.
With its spaces open to the community and a high level of digitization, Chorus Life can already be seen as a testing ground for the city of the future. Although specifically tailored to Bergamo, it will potentially serve as a model that can be adapted and replicated in other locations, both in Italy and around the world. And the model it offers begins with its own origins as a redevelopment of 17.3 acres (7 h) of disused space in the northeast of the city that involved an investment of 361 million euros. The design and organization of its spaces, both public and private, are rigorously human-centric. Including residents and general pedestrian flows, up to 1.5 million people are expected to use the district every year, a figure that contributed to the design of five acres (2 h) of amenitized public parks and green oases nestled between the buildings. These aren’t just corridors from A to B but open-air theaters that will be brought to life every day by cultural events and activities.
Besides the public spaces now taking shape, some of which are in response to the lack of a particular service (such as the wellness area) and some of which are to increase the attractiveness of the district in general (such as the concert and convention arena), the homes here will be build-to-rent, a scheme that’s been growing in popularity throughout Europe since 2020. This involves a long-term real estate investment by the lessor, along with the provision of ongoing property management and maintenance services. According to The European House – Ambrosetti’s forecasts, which were presented by Valerio De Molli, managing partner and CEO, residents will be offered rental packages that include services (such as maintenance, utilities, and security), thereby saving them substantial amounts compared to rental properties elsewhere in the area. According to the report, based on the Lombardy region’s average net family income of 2,900 euros a month, Chorus Life could free up to 1.3% of income for families renting a two-room apartment, and 12.3% for families in a three-room apartment.
Even at this stage, it’s possible to calculate the effects of investments in the development on both the city of Bergamo and the Lombardy region. According to The European House – Ambrosetti, based on Costim and Italian Institute of Statistics data, 83% of suppliers are well-established companies based within 31 miles (50 km) of the construction site. Of these companies, 96% are in Lombardy, while 41% are located in Bergamo itself. The figures collected to date indicate a total turnover of 991 million euros, with returns equal to 2.5 times original investments. In other words, every euro invested generates an additional 1.5 euros. There also appear to be comparable benefits to employment, with over 2200 jobs created by the design and construction phases.
A negative figure – although one that’s needs to be seen against the reclamation operation carried out before construction began – relates to land consumption. (Lombardy is the region with the highest level of land consumption in Italy, while Bergamo is the second highest Lombard province for increases in net consumption.) This underscores the importance of the planned digital infrastructure, with a smart grid system designed to make the district more sustainable in terms of energy consumption. This system will deliver energy according to real needs, avoiding wastage and reducing the environmental impact of homes (smart homes) and the city itself (smart city).
Digital tools have played an important role from the start, including BIM and GSM systems. The latter, which grew out of Costim’s work with Gewiss, Siemens, and Microsoft, is a digital platform that coordinates all the functions of a smart city, therefore integrating physical infrastructure with IoT devices and services for users. As if it were a series of consecutive frames of a film that can be played backwards or forwards, GSM is able to generate a digital twin of Chorus Life, complete with all the information and models necessary to manage its operation, both retrospectively and predictively. This virtual model is then constantly updated.
Among its various technologies, the project uses energy management systems. Chorus Life will have a trigeneration system that simultaneously generates electricity, heating, and cooling according to how it’s programmed. This will make it possible to achieve energy self-sufficiency, with any surplus returned to the national grid. The report also mentions CO2 savings of 275 tons per year, the equivalent of planting 11 thousand trees. These reduced climate-changing emissions will be achieved in part through a road network designed for rapid traffic flows and dedicated parking spaces with charging stations for electric cars.
“The study further highlights the value and importance of Domenico Bosatelli’s vision, which he so strongly desired to see translated into reality,” says Francesco Percassi, president of the Costim group. “That is, his dream of building a city with a high standard of living through a paradigm shift in the way we build cities. Urban regeneration is not just about constructing buildings, it’s also a key to economic development in terms of GDP growth. New neighborhoods need to be designed around the needs of people. The study presented today will be an important tool for achieving that.”
Architects: Joseph Di Pasquale Architects
Main Contractor: Impresa Percassi
Client: Chorus Life S.p.A.
Completion: in progress
Gross Floor Area: 70.000 m2
Render courtesy of Joseph Di Pasquale Architects
Photo courtesy of The European House-Ambrosetti