Forms of Energy #8

KO - CO2 An integrated program for urban regeneration in Terlizzi, Puglia.

Every civilization is defined largely by its ability to control energy flows and reserves. Human history can be seen as an ongoing discovery of the possible manifestations and mechanisms of energy conversion. Starting about ten thousand years ago with the first agricultural techniques that would determine and enhance the earth's productive capacity to answer to our vital energy needs – food - up until the discovery of how to release energy from the nucleus of the atom in the late 1930s to the recent understanding of photosynthesis.
From the food we eat to the heat that warms us to the light that illuminates our world to the means of transport by which we move, the forms of energy that we use determine the shape of the society in which we live in terms of both time and space. In our (post) industrial society based on massive extraction of fossil fuels, it is a nonrenewable energy source, whose conversion implies environmental costs with destabilizing effects on the global biosphere. In this sense, it is hard to doubt that our civilization is only a transitional phase because, unlike preceding civilizations, it cannot last for thousands of years because even if they were used in the most efficient way possible, fossil fuel energy supplies are limited and their costs are increasing along with environmental costs. This will force our descendants to return to harnessing solar energy or developing new energy sources.
Regione Puglia - Comune di Terlizzi; Piano urbanistico attuativo, Programma Integrato di Rigenerazione Urbana di iniziativa del Laterificio Pugliese S.p.A.; project: Pica Ciamarra Associati
Regione Puglia - Comune di Terlizzi; Piano urbanistico attuativo, Programma Integrato di Rigenerazione Urbana di iniziativa del Laterificio Pugliese S.p.A.; project: Pica Ciamarra Associati
This is why every little urban experiment aimed at creating different social forms (different way of heating, turning on lights, moving and so on) should be examined carefully with all possible admiration for those who are trying to create an alternative. In this sense, the Terlizzi project by the Pica Ciamarra office is certainly a positive point for the Puglia region, which has become the most significant political laboratory in Italy in recent years researching an alternative to the oil-based culture; an alternative in which forms of living are at the heart of the problem. It is here that the centralized energy model can be overturned, imagining buildings, neighborhoods and cities that are more efficient, able to self-produce locally from renewable and clean energy sources, recycling and reusing water to support vegetation, along with pedestrian and bicycle mobility to promote integration and social welfare.
Starting with these goals, the project regards the conversion of a decommissioned industrial area into a new residential district where housing is integrated with industry, laboratories, offices, low-cost housing as well as large areas for urban services and facilities.
The presence of a railway right on the edge of the area contiguous with the historical center was an ideal opportunity to build a raised plaza (covering a stretch of the railroad tracks and the new station) and, again along the railway, to locate a market and a park acoustically shielded from the railroad by a large photovoltaic wall, landmark for the neighborhood's energy choice in favor of renewable energy. The solar wall, in turn, is reflected in a lake having the potential capacity to naturally purify the neighborhood's water.
The goal of this system of services, supplemented by a bike-pedestrian path that bridges the railroad tracks re-connecting the old town and new neighborhood, is the creation of a new urban center attracting exchange and movement between the existing urban fabric and the new part of the city.
Beyond this service spine, ending with a tower crowned by micro wind turbines, is the built fabric itself, consisting in courtyard houses of varying heights, characterized by large solar greenhouses as well as by overall attention to bioclimatic principles maximizing the buildings' livability and energy performance (orientation, shadows, green roofs, vertical gardens, radiant panels, insulating glass, solar shading, solar chimneys, rainwater recovery; simple structures in sizes compatible with the interior spaces; recyclable, local, lightweight, breathable materials with low CO2 emissions; natural brick, wood, stone walls; wood, bamboo, rubber flooring; natural colors, non-toxic paints; cork, wool, coir, wood, felt wool insulation etc.) and the differentiation of dwelling types to support different users, in order to enrich the social fabric. Photovoltaic systems and heat pumps powered by geothermal energy should meet the needs for the buildings' electrical power and thermal cooling.
Regarding mobility, apart from service, safety and emergency access, the district is entirely closed to traffic with parking spaces located below the buildings with entrance ramps at strategic points outside the system. For waste management, there is a separate collection system with ecological islands screened by greenery and transported by an underground pneumatic network. In general, what is interesting is the attempt to integrate the many aspects of urban sustainability by setting a lofty goal: the creation of a neighborhood that can produce more energy than it consumes - a positive energy neighborhood - not only because it is produced locally from renewable and clean sources, but because it produces surplus energy that can be redistributed back into the network. Beyond the effective achievement of such an important goal, we must certainly set our sights high enough perhaps even to obtain a bit less. But this is the frontier on our horizon.

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