May 10, 2024
2 min
4 min

In Bologna, Working With Memory And Sustainability: Refurbishment Of The Former Electricity Station In The Giardini Margherita.

Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi

Late summer will see the completion of the upgrade to the former electricity station inside the Giardini Margherita monumental park: a crucial point in the city where the refurbished building will host the creative and cultural hub for Re-Use With Love, a volunteer group in Bologna, based on the culture of reuse, that promotes fundraising campaigns and projects for inclusivity and social support.

"Ten years ago it became clear that to grow, we needed a different space" says Veronica Veronesi, the President of Re-Use With Love. "Our solidarity boutique at Via Savenella, the first to open in Italy, is our sorting centre where many of our activities still operate, but was beginning to put restrictions on us, both creatively and operationally. After consulting various interlocutors, the Mayor of Bologna (who at that time was the Council Member for Culture and Heritage) suggested, with the previous mayor Virginio Merola, that we should submit a tender for the allocation of an abandoned property owned by the Municipality, in order to regenerate it and then manage it independently."

Leopolda Sassol, Vice-President of the Association, continues: "Having won the tender, we immediately took ownership of the project by sharing it with a visionary architect who has always loved our city, Mario Cucinella. Like us, he had no doubts about its value, and offered us his unconditional support. When the works are completed it will be a space where we can activate collaborations with all those who, like us, support the idea of a participatory, convivial and supportive city, re-examined in the spirit of the innovative experiences of which Bologna has always been a symbol". The refurbishment work began last October, based on the project designed by MCA - Mario Cucinella Architects. Theworking drawings were then developed by the architect Emanuele Dionigi, founder of Studio Controluce, who also supervised the construction on site.

Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi

"Our work on the former ENEL transformer building” says Mario Cucinella “is an example of memory and sustainability: a challenge that brings together the historic, the modern, and the industrial. This mixis one of the magical formulae that make up the beauty of our communities. With this project the hope is to create a new memory for the many citizens who visit the Margherita Gardens: somewhere children will remember as a place where they met a friend and played together”.

The project addresses the need for restoration and conservative maintenance works to refurbish the building, along with internal and external works so that it can be used for cultural, recreational, and promotional activities for the city. In architectural and structural terms, the basement under the main building will be modified; a new mezzanine level will connect to the floor below it via an internal steel staircase.

The design of the outdoor spaces surrounding the building provides for the creation of a wooden platform with a ramp that will serve as a new entrance to the building and will also be a permanent feature accessible to all, revitalising a currently marginal area of the city that has no lighting, and making it a new hub of social life within the park. Access to this new nucleus will be via a new paved pedestrian pathway, which connects to the public footpath on Viale Stenio Polischi, within the Giardini Margherita Park.

Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi

Particular care has been given to the design of the environmental strategies by introducing measures that will reduce energy consumption, for example by improving the efficiency of the building enclosure and opening up large glazed surfaces to ensure proper natural light and ventilation.

As a result of the love these women have for their city - more than 150 volunteers are now working with Re-Use With Love - the project to refurbish the former electricity station has attracted public and private support from many supporters, beginning with the Municipality - during the mandates of the former Mayor Virginio Merola and the current Mayor Matteo Lepore - alongside sponsors motivated by their sensitivity towards the territory of Bologna and the culture of action that this initiative represents: banking foundations (Carisbo, Banca d’Italia), banking institutions (Banca di Bologna, Emilbanca, Banca Mediolanum), major entrepreneurial groups (BolognaFiere, Gruppo Hera), and local actors (Filicori Zecchini, Verni Adv, Pizzoli, Iperceramica, Comet, Mefa, Matteuzzi, Conad, Faac, Original Parquet, and Rotary Carducci).

Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Visual by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Pianta P0 - Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Pianta P-1 - Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Planimetria by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Prospetto nord by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Prospetto sud by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Sezione longitudinale by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Sezione trasversale est by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi
Sezione trasversale ovest by Arch. Emanuele Dionigi

In 2010, a group of women began collecting used clothes to give them a new lease of life. This led to the creation of markets to raise funding for projects and initiatives to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people, especially children, young people, and the elderly.

Social, environmental, and economic sustainability are at the heart of the activities of the Association, which was established in Bologna in 2014. Since its inception, RWL has collected and distributed more than 850,000 euros allocating these funds to solidarity projects and serving 10,000 households without charge - via its solidarity boutique, the first in Italy. Today, the volunteers number more than 150.