Dezeen Magazine

Campo Urbano masterplan for Rome by Arney Fender Katsalidis

Arney Fender Katsalidis to transform Tuscolana railway site into low-carbon 15-minute city

Architect Arney Fender Katsalidis will transform a disused railway site in Rome into a low-carbon neighbourhood as part of the Reinventing Cities programme, which encourages cities to strive towards net-zero urban developments.

The Campo Urbano proposal will see 24,000 square metres of former railway infrastructure around Rome's Tuscolana station turned into a mixed-use development.

The car-free project will be self-sufficient in energy, will make use of biomaterials and will feature reversible buildings that can be taken apart at the end of their useful lives.

Aerial render of Campo Urbano development by Arney Fender Katsalidis
The Campo Urbano development will regenerate an area of disused railway lines in Tuscolana, Rome

Arney Fender Katsalidis (AFK) is working on the project as part of a consortium led by Italian developer Fresia RE.

It is one of 49 projects that will be built as part of the Reinventing Cities competition organised by the global C40 Cities network to help urban areas meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

C40 Cities launched the competition four years ago "to drive carbon-neutral and resilient urban regeneration".

Projects to be built in 19 cities

In total, 49 projects in 19 different cities will be realised as part of the competition, which called for proposals to develop underutilised spaces into "beacons of sustainability and resiliency".

Winners were chosen on the basis of the ambition of their strategies for reducing whole-lifecycle emissions including both embodied carbon – emissions generated during the production of materials and construction – and operational carbon, which covers emissions caused by the building's use.

Rendering of green space within the Campo Urbano development showing people relaxing among crops
The development will include an "Energy Park" that provides both green space and a source of biomass

"The competition said you have to strive for zero carbon," said Hélène Chartier, head of zero-carbon development at C40 Cities. 'They had to make a carbon assessment including a lifecycle analysis of their projects. Some are better than others."

The Rome masterplan is designed around the increasingly popular concept of the 15-minute city, where all the essentials for day-to-day life are within a 15-minute walk or cycle.

It will include residential, office space, retail, a student hotel and an "Energy Park" that provides both green spaces for recreation and a source of biomass for energy production.

Campo Urbano to eventually be carbon-negative 

As with all Reinventing Cities projects, a central aim is to achieve the lowest possible carbon footprint across its lifecycle. AFK claims the Campo Urbano project will become carbon negative over a 60-year timeframe.

"In compliance with the LEED Zero standard, Campo Urbano reaches and exceeds the zero-carbon level when the construction and management of the entire development over a time span of 60 years is taken into account," the studio said.

To achieve the LEED Zero energy rating, Campo Urbano will meet its own energy needs through a mix of rooftop photovoltaics and biomass power. For the latter, compost from homes, woody crops from the Energy Park and sustainably obtained wood will be used to generate heating, cooling and electricity through pyro-gasification.

This technique sees waste heated to a high temperature in a low-oxygen environment to produce synthetic gas.

Rendering of Campo Urbano at dusk showing green walls, public art installations and plazas
The development will be entirely powered by a circular, renewable system

Campo Urbano will also apply green construction principles to reduce embodied carbon. It will make wide use of low-carbon materials such as timber, including in an 8,000-square-metre glulam building, and will take a "retrofit-first" approach that means renovating existing structures where possible.

"The project is a huge step away from generic 'tabula rasa' urban development in favour of urban repair, which means carefully bringing the site's existing structures back into use and incrementally weaving in new civic spaces and uses within the existing fabric of the city," AFK associate director Tommaso Franzolini told Dezeen.

The full extent of the proposed public realm will be car-free. "We achieved this through a detailed study of future car-parking demand curves and the subsequent optimisation of the parking infrastructure dimensions," Franzolini explained.

"This has, in turn, enabled us to consolidate public and private car parking requirements, Park&Ride, Kiss&Ride, drop-offs and sharing mobility platforms within a compact underground mobility hub on two levels directly connected with both the main residential building and the train station," he added.

Buildings "designed for deconstruction"

New buildings will be designed for deconstruction, using mechanical rather than chemical connections that allow for disassembly, and homogenous materials that are easily recycled.

There is a power purchase agreement in place for renewable electric energy to cover the substantial energy requirements for electric-vehicle charging, and a green infrastructure plan, which aims to create jobs to support the area's economic recovery, is part of the proposal.

Campo Urbano will also partly rely on carbon credits earned by investing in carbon sequestration projects to offset emissions and help it get as close as possible to net-zero.

Aerial rendering of the Campo Urbano development sitting between railway tracks and dense Roman neighbourhoods
The scheme aims to improve circulation and create social opportunities for nearby neighbourhoods as well

This will make it the first carbon-negative and car-free urban district in Rome, according to the studio.

"The masterplan aims to align with selected United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and C40's global design priorities while responding to local conditions and what matters to the local community," said Franzolini.

"The result is the first carbon-negative and car-free urban district in Rome which includes the largest urban energy park in Europe — a piece of green infrastructure that integrates the clean energy resources of the site and offers new opportunities for green jobs — as well as a network of diverse buildings designed with the latest modular and timber technologies in mind."

The Reinventing Cities competition for the Tuscalona site was held by city authority Roma Capitale and site owner FS Sistemi Urbani in collaboration with C40 Cities.

It awarded just over half of Tuscolana's 45,000-square-metre disused railway site to the Campo Urbano consortium.

C40 Cities is "a network of the world's megacities committed to addressing climate change". It now has 97 member cities, representing over 700 million people altogether and making up a quarter of the global economy.

Members, which include London, Shanghai, São Paulo and Lagos, pledge to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, halving carbon emissions by 2030 and eliminating them altogether by 2050.

In an interview with Dezeen, C40 Cities' Chartier said that cities are "leading the way" in the effort to reach net-zero, adding that national governments had done "very, very little" to deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement.

AFK is a global firm whose previous work includes Brookfield Place East, the tallest building in Calgary, Canada. It is working on Campo Urbano via its London office.