Redeveloping this post-industrial area will revitalize city with housing while restoring local heritage, watershed and biodiversity

On October 19, 2023, the global architectural firm Henning Larsen unveiled their plan to restore, reconnect, and revitalize part of the city of Bolzano, Italy’s historic Industrial Zone.

Prioritizing adaptive reuse, urban mining, and timber construction, the proposed redevelopment will transform the post-industrial area into “Ponte Roma Quartier“, an inviting, multi-generational, mixed-use neighborhood that provides a solution to the city’s housing crisis.

This is wise, since housing has become one of the most reliable components of successful urban revitalization strategies, as documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity.

Envisioning the Ponte Roma Quartier, we set out to create not just a new neighborhood, but a vibrant community that breathes new life into Bolzano and gives the young generation a compelling reason to call the city home. Prioritizing adaptive reuse and urban mining ensure the industrial heritage of the area will be celebrated and Bolzano’s playful and colorful urban fabric will be preserved,” says Henning Larsen’s Global Design Principal, Louis Becker.

Located in the South Tyrol region of the Italian Alps, bridging the gap between disconnected neighborhoods, Ponte Roma Quartier will restore a vital connection to Bolzano’s urban center, preserve the industrial heritage and improve biodiversity.

Henning Larsen’s urban concept is a set around a central park which permeates through the district. The historical Bolzano’s walkable charm will be reflected and enhanced with improved pedestrian routes and cycling infrastructure.

Maintaining Bolzano’s playful and colorful urban fabric, charming alleys, intimate public plazas and modest towers mirror the city’s character.

Scenic mountain views are optimized with varied building volumes, home to new affordable residences, student accommodation, cafes and restaurants, offices, co-working spaces, a fabrication laboratory, and a nursery.

Courtyard and rooftops are designed for accessibility and ample sunlight. Rooftops will offer panoramic viewpoints and recreational spaces, enhancing the cityscape.

Committed to creating a solution to Bolzano’s housing shortage, developers SIGNA, Habitat and a group of local entrepreneurs will ensure 1000 new homes are created, including affordable housing and accommodation for 500 students just a few minutes by bike from the University of Bolzano in the historic center.

The urban design plugs into the existing transport network, building connections with the city, and prioritizing accessible transit within the district.

Two expansive open-concept industrial buildings will be transformed into public spaces featuring cafes, shops, eateries, common areas, and a climbing gym.

Nearby buildings will be resourcefully repurposed, reclaimed materials like bricks and cobblestones will find new life as flooring, while robust beams will be crafted into urban farming greenhouses. Other materials, including metal, will be reimagined as porches, terraces, and decorative accents.

Increased biodiversity is central to the design, enriching the urban landscape with natural spaces that contribute to the well-being of residents and the environment.

Green rooftops, parks, a comfortable microclimate, and urban farming initiatives will foster an environment that acts as a ‘sponge city’ efficiently collecting and recycling rainwater.

30% of rooftops will feature solar panels designed to supply more than 50% of the districts needs, ushering in a greater reliance on renewable energy sources.

All images courtesy of Henning Larsen.

See Henning Larsen website.

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