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Contest for Taranto Old Town renewal opens

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The Municipality of Taranto has launched an open international competition to regenerate its historic Old Town

Backed by the Office of the Prime Minister of Italy and the Italian National Institute of Town Planning – the contest seeks ‘integrated and consistent’ strategies to revitalise the ancient settlement’s oldest quarter.

Known locally as Citta Vecchia – the Old Town was first established as a Greek acropolis on a prominent island within Taranto Harbour but today features many derelict buildings.

According to the brief: ‘The international ideas competition is intended as a way to create a future vision for Taranto Old Town and a means to kick-start the engine of regeneration through an action plan.’

‘The competition seeks to activate hidden energies and talents, unknown and underused resources; find innovative ways to interpret resources and draw out memories, creativity, inspiration, ideas and methodologies.’

The document continued: ‘Proposals should help reinforce the importance of the Old Town for public functions on an urban and wider territorial scale and underline its role as a cultural attractor for a large area, helping to position Taranto within the regional and national cultural tourist system.’

Located in Italy’s southern Puglia region, the coastal city of Taranto is home to a major commercial port, a large naval base and many heavy industries.

Founded by Sparta in 706 BC, the settlement – known as Spartan City – is today ranked as the most polluted city in Italy and Western Europe.

The Old Town’s layout has remained largely unchanged since it was rebuilt by the Byzantines in 937AD following its destruction by Saracen forces.

Accessed by the Ponte Girevole and Ponte di Porta Napoli bridges – the 26 hectare island features an Armenian quarter and several historic palaces and churches.

Large areas of workers’ housing and the Jewish quarter were demolished in the 1930s by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to make way for new apartment blocks.

Many residences in the Island’s north eastern segment remain either dilapidated or derelict. Prominent Old Town landmarks include the fifteenth century Aragon Castle built to protect Taranto from coastal attacks.

Proposals should respect local characteristics and improve the relationship between the city, the sea and the wider context.

Teams must be led by an architect or engineer and must include an urban regeneration expert. Specialists in sociology, economics, architectural history, archaeology, smart planning and urban ecology may also be included.

Up to twenty teams will be invited to participate in the anonymous competition following an initial open applications round. The winner will receive £50,000 and be invited to negotiate for the design contract.

A second place prize of £25,000 and third place prize worth €12,500 are also available. The deadline for applications is 20 July.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

UK firms may register with UKTI for advice and support

Contact details

via Calabria 46
00187 Rome

Email: opentaranto@invitalia.it

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