The USD 7 million project to create an Alternative Economy City was completed in September 2007 and is the first place in Europe dedicated to fair trade, ethical finance, renewable energy sources, open communication, responsible tourism and resources recycling and reuse.
Environmental compatibility, technological innovation and energy conservation in action
The USD 7 million project to create a “Città dell’Altra Economia” (Alternative Economy City) was undertaken between September 2005 and September 2007 with the intervention connecting the structurally restored and rehabilitated spaces of the city’s former Testaccio Slaughterhouse.
It is the first place in Europe dedicated to fair trade, ethical finance, renewable energy sources, open communication, responsible tourism and resources recycling and reuse. The spaces are organized within four modules. The first module is an administration and exhibition space for responsible tourism and ethical finance. The second and third modules house an organic farmer’s market, café and restaurant, research library and conference space for up to 80 people. The final module houses workshops and micro-factories dedicated to fair trade, recycling, reuse and renewable energy.
The intervention generates a new spirit of innovation while also recognizing the historical context and existing functional specificity of the original structures. The complex is developed inside the beautiful Weights Buildings (Pese) and in the reinvented spaces between the portico designed by Gioacchino Ersoch, and built between 1888 and 1891, and its sheds (1928) – which are extraordinary examples of iron and cast iron structures.
Restoration and new signs
The site includes, beyond exhibition and documentary areas, 12 separate activities on a 3,500 square meter covered surface, with a 200 linear meter façade that opens out onto an external pertinence area of more than 3 hectares. The new spaces are realized with an iron anti-seismic structure. Most of the structure was pre-assembled at the factory for ease of installation and to achieve static independence and reversibility of different parts.
The project optimizes thermal effects and natural lighting using insulated glass and low-energy, low-emission lighting, and continues the city’s architectural heritage where the use of structures is re-invented to accommodate contemporary Rome. The importance given to the building’s thermal behavior and to passive strategies requires accurate indoor environment control, starting from the analysis of the orientation conditions. Studies for the protection of the glazed façade from direct solar radiation also included the analysis of aerodynamic flows, where air flow is induced from the frontal openings, in the shade zone, and from the north-oriented roof openings to provide cooling and air exchange.
The complex is equipped with seven thermo-mechanical independent power houses that use CFC-free coolants, heat pumps with COP >3, and UTA with dynamical recovery >70%. The complex has a solar photovoltaic system of 166 silicon panels with an output of 180 Wp peak power and 40,000 kW annual production – reducing CO2 emissions by some 25,000 kg annually.
The project was recipient of the Premio Gubbio 2009 (ANCSA), Europa Nostra Award 2009 (Preservation and Restoration), Fassa International Award for Sustainable Architecture 2009 (Bortolo Special Mention), Romarchitettura Award 2007 (Building Renovation or Intervention), and the International Architecture Award 2006 (Innovative Architecture – Design and Sustainability).See more
The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction sought out the best sustainable construction projects in Europe – and awarded the winners about a quarter millions Swiss Francs at the Awards ceremony in Geneva. In his address, Swiss Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss said that sustainability, which has a long tradition in Switzerland, is necessary in all aspects of life, and that economic and ecological priorities are no contradiction.Media release – Prizes for sustainable construction projects in Europe »
The innovative proposal for the reuse of an abandoned facility - former slaughterhouse - is commended for invigorating new life in a historical setting. Specifically worthy of merit is the notion of site recycling that offers a collective function and works to regenerate connections with the city.
Considerable effort has been invested to achieve equilibrium. Social equity is supported at all stages of the construction, from planning and building process to assessing the long-term impact on the social fabric of the community. Not only are the immediate surroundings addressed in an advanced manner, but also the nature of production as well as of the production themselves.
Instead of pursuing a purely profit oriented direct, the project signals genuine respect for ethical values by promoting the use of biological products as well as fair trade. Also significant is that the collective initiative inspires active participation of public stakeholders in discussions with architects, planners, and politicians, an integrative incentive that is novel for the specific context and thus needs to be encouraged. The alteration to the existing structure is carefully undertaken to deliver a culturally rich program of activities.See more
The innovative proposal for the reuse of an abandoned facility – a former slaughterhouse – in Italy is merited for the effort to bring new life to a historical setting. Specifically noteworthy is the idea of site recycling, a measure that promises to generate new activities and connections within the city. Considerable effort has been made to respond to communal needs while remaining sensitive to the existing context.
Social equity and cooperation is encouraged at all stages of the project’s development. Instead of pursuing a purely profit-oriented goal, the team expresses respect for ethical values by promoting the use of organic and fair-trade products. Also significant is the collective initiative established between architects, planners, and politicians. Great care has been given to the integration of new functions within the vacant structure without altering its original form, promising a rich program of cultural activities.Download project entry poster (PDF, 1.47 MB) »See more
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