Paris-based Vincent Callebaut Architects has developed a masterplan to transform Rome’s military district into a self-sufficient urban ecosystem called the ‘città della scienza’, or the ‘city of science’, which encourages the promotion of sustainable design, low carbon transportation and renewable energies. The masterplan offers contemporary large public spaces and a dynamic social mix, presenting high values in terms of urban connectivity between the district’s different identities and cultural destinations.
Covering a massive 86 000 sqm, Callebaut’s proposal is blanketed by edible plants that are intelligent, self producing and organic, as such, roofs and balconies become the new grounds of this green city, while the orchards and food gardens become the primary structures that dominate the site.
According to Callebaut, six fundamental principles guide this design proposal-
1. correlation with the context and the industrial history: crossing the area, a grid of permeable public spaces grafts all the paths from piazza melozzo da forlì, from piazza mancini, from the via flaminia, and from the MAXXI square. inside, the tree-lined avenues are kept, like fingerprints, the pre-existing industrial buildings envelopes transformed into magnificent lofts. most of the residences and commercial spaces are aligned along the edge of the site to give form and consistency to the great original block.
2. articulation of various public spaces, building types and architectural languages: the system of public spaces, despite its variety, forms a unitary structure characterizing strongly the project from the point of view of beauty and quality of life. the variation of building types, scales and architectural languages presents an obvious additional aesthetic quality. the entire site is pedestrian! regarding to the mobility, the private accesses to the underground car parks (on maximum two levels under residential buildings) are systematically located on the edges of the area. public car parks are located under the square facing to viale del vignola and under the building of the città della scienza.
3. flexible and multi-functional urban spaces: the functions, as reflected in the master plan, bind the transformations induced by the diagonal pathway: retail stores, ateliers for artists and craftsmen, small art galleries, bars and restaurants, neighborhood services, all the needs of the city’s events and exhibitions of science are thought in order to not disturb the privacy and the intimacy that must characterize the residential spaces.
4. cityscape full of trees (‘trees of shadow and harmony’ – l. sciascia): the intensive planting of mature trees is designed not only for their intrinsic beauty, but also for the positive environmental effects (reduction in co2, particulate removal, microclimates in public spaces). all the roofs and balconies of each new buildings become communitarian orchards and/or food and aromatic gardens to design a flourishing and fertile master plan.
5. bio-sustainability of urban plants and buildings: the landscape architecture (land arch) aims at reaching the following green features : the recovery of rainwater for irrigation of public and private green areas, photovoltaic electricity production, the domestic hot water production by solar tubes, the control of microclimates in public spaces (daylight and shadow), the municipal solid waste recycling on site by biomass, the energy-efficient buildings (treatment of facades with respect to guidance), and finally the lighting appliances with integrated micro-wind turbines.
6. social mix of dwelling units: the masterplan proposes a large choice of apartments scales in different building types taking into account the expected diversification of housing demand.