Eco-City Grafting

CENTOLA & Associati


Extending the Eco-Archaeological wedge of the Appia Antica
(S. Maria delle Mole, Ciampino, Capannelle)
European policies regarding urban requalification are finally focusing on overcoming the large residential neighbourhoods of the periphery by building small EcoTowns (England) or EcoPolis (France) for over 10,000 residents, associating the resolution of housing issues with the protection of the environment. In Italy, according to recent estimates, over 700,000 new social housing units are necessary, 26,000 of which are needed in the capital city.
The metropolitan area of Rome is still home to many pauses, precious natural wedges that enter into the heart of the historical city. The Appia Antica Park, in addition to being the largest archaeological area in the world, is also a phenomenal ecological corridor, located between the Castelli Romani Park and the Aurelian Walls. Beyond the Ring Road is the countryside; inside the Park of the Seven Aqueducts, the Caffarella Valley and the Tormarancia Estate. Its centre contains the 16 km Regina Viarum, the axis of the park, many natural water springs (Appia, Capannelle, Egeria, San Pietro), a few surviving portions of the sacred Almone River, typical ravines and vast natural areas to be preserved. It lies at the margins of illegal or illicit construction and accepted practices of real estate speculation.
 The re-design of the Almone River connects the two regional parks, completing a unitary ecosystem that is over 50 km long and covering 20,000 hectares, linking the ancient Lazio Volcano and the heart of Rome. By grafting a series of adaptable models of the EcoCity in strategic points along the urbanised margins, we can spread the virus of sustainability, attacking and transforming the typical sprawl of private villas, an airport trapped between apartments, incoherent condominiums and low-density craft-based activities. Santa Maria delle Mole, Ciampino and Capannelle represent the paradigmatic examples that have been selected to demonstrate that it is now possible to legitimately include portions of the developed city within areas of parkland, based on advanced criteria of sustainability. These prosthetics of the natural world colonise and recover over 750 hectares of urbanised land, extending the current 3,400 hectares of the Appia Park. These three areas have also been chosen because they lie along an existing rail line, with their own stations.
The grafts of the EcoCity, zero emission urban nuclei, integrate local techniques, prefabrication and energy optimisation with an indispensable balance between economy, ecology and social activities. They play a guiding role in the search for new models of social mixité and integrated urbanism: the planning and reduction of water use; differentiated waste management and recycling; the development of biodiversity and permaculture; the drastic reduction of the amount of energy consumed by new construction; the integration of techniques of natural ventilation in substitution of air conditioning systems; the production, at the urban and local scales, of sources of renewable energy, biomasses and biogas; unlimited and free access to the most advanced technologies of connection and communication.
The new urban models are delineated like Mediterranean EcoCities, open to the landscape and capable of actualising the millenary experience of adaptation and aggregation that is typical of Italian towns, applying the complex logic of the natural world and providing effective strategies for the requalification of vast and problematic areas of the country’s neglected peripheries.

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