Re-designing cities with nature-based solutions in Turin
27 June 2022
ProGIreg cities Cluj-Napoca, Dortmund, Zagreb and Piraeus gathered in Turin to envision how great cities can be when nature-based solutions are used as building blocks. Representatives from Alba, Mannheim, Barcelona, Larissa and Lisbon joined to exchange knowledge.
The event saw all municipal pioneers envisioning how their city could look harnessing proGIreg’s eight nature-based solutions. The nature-based solutions have a myriad of benefits, such as:
· Green corridors create natural networks connecting the city within - and to the surrounding nature
· Green roofs- and walls transform existing structures, helping with insulation and filtering pollutants
· Community-based urban farms- and gardens support local food production and social inclusion
· Regenerated soil cleans polluted land
· Old landfills can be used for outdoor activities and for spaces to create clean energy
· Aquaponics allow for sustainable food production
· Creating habitats for pollinators helps support biodiversity
· Local environmental compensation processes with nature-based solutions help support climate-change mitigation
This was followed by a workshop session to determine how to make that dream a reality. The cities brainstormed in groups on existing ‘enablers’; what untapped potential exists within the cities to help speedy nature-based solutions deployment. Nature-based solutions projects do not need to reinvent the wheel – there are plenty of existing resources that can be utilised! Collaborating with existing environmental entities active in cities can help support citizen engagement and help harness structures and knowledge already in place.
Photo: Workshop in Turin, proGIreg
The workshop participants got to roam the proGIreg Living Lab in the Mirafiori district, exploring the unique green roof atop Fondazione Mirafiori’s (a local association supporting proGireg activities) offices that is utilised for events. The green roof’s innovative design has seen it merged to a nearby hill, meaning one can just simply walk up to the roof from the park in front of the building. A small aquaponics factory growing leafy greens for sale in the vicinity proved there is untapped market potential for nature-based solutions - the innovative system allows for the sustainable circulation of water, with the fish providing fertilizers. Watch this video of the visit to learn more about aquaponics.
Spazio WOW used to be an abandoned lot, but urban farms and gardens were introduced to the site, and activities through the Farfalle in ToUr association, working with users of municipal mental health services to monitor pollinators with the support of proGIreg. Fondazione Mirafiori and the municipality are also working with the people living in the area illegally to see where support and connections can be made. The municipality has built green corridors with pollinator friendly plants, and urban farming corners in marginalised neighbourhoods, in the Living Lab to ensure everyone has access to green spaces. The municipality has also dedicated a site to regenerating soil with compost from inhabitants, which helps fertilise depleted soil that can then be re-used for plants and commercial activities. A green wall was built in a local school, which has provided the teachers avenues for discussion on the benefits of nature, and also a welcome aesthetic addition to the school structure. Another Green wall has been implemented in around a homeless shelter providing much needed shade and cooling to the building.
Photo: Green wall in homeless shelter
Last but not least, the Orti Generali association, who the city collaborates to implement proGIreg’s activities is a pioneer of community-based urban gardens. They manage a large area which has allotments for rent, with reduced rates available to those with lower incomes, e.g. in exchange for work on site. The site is managed by automatic irrigation system connected to the onsite weather station to ensure water is used consciously. The community gardens are open to all, with active users from the neighbourhood. The association has organised events such as cooking- and circular economy classes. Special consideration has been taken to involve vulnerable populations and local schools.
Photo: Orti Generali Community Gardens, proGIreg
Turin has with its inclusive approach shown that it is possible to answer community needs with the help of nature-based solutions, as long as they are chosen and planned in consultation with the end users. Also seemingly small-scale interventions can contribute to a large-scale transformation in a city creating green networks. Building a community of practice around nature-based solutions is a crucial part of their success, and proGIreg aims to foster this by bridging relationships with different actors that can last beyond the project.
Watch the videos below to learn from the participating cities key take-aways from the workshop.
Learn more about Turin's great work here.