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Contest launched for Bologna eco-academy

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An open international competition has been launched to transform an abandoned 5,000m² paper factory into a new green academy in Marzabotto, Italy

Backed by Italian recycling firm Dismeco, the contest seeks ideas for a new ‘high-level and ludic-experiential’ centre focusing on ecology and sustainable development.

Designed by acclaimed Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, the 1954 factory produced paper for Rizzoli Editore print publications but shut down in 2006 amid challenging market conditions and is now owned by Dismeco.

According to the brief: ‘Dismeco knows well that a better world is only possible with an increasingly widespread environmental awareness. That is why Dismeco, thinking about future generations, aims at creating in its building the first and most excellent school in the world dedicated to ecology and sustainability.

‘In one of the most innovative industrial areas, regarding recovery and disposal of waste, the “recycling” of an architecture will enable the creation of the first and most important school of ecology and sustainability aimed at transforming the building into a global epicentre for a more responsible society and a more sustainable future.’

The document continued: ‘Surrounded by an enchanting natural backdrop, the building creates a unique relation between architecture and landscape, the natural and the artificial being the most proper context for the creation of a school whose mission regards the values of sustainability and environmental eco-compatibility.’

The new facility will feature classrooms, conference areas, laboratories, exhibition galleries, apartments and a gym. A children’s museum – featuring an educational theme park – a science and recycling museum, a green business incubator, training centre and lifestyle academy will also be included.

Proposals must not demolish the iconic triangle-plan structure but may remove some interior walls and floors to reconfigure the space. Concepts should feature green spaces, passive energy systems and a strategy for rationalising water and electricity.

The project is part of the ‘Restart from Beauty’ initiative which aims to restore disused industrial spaces across the Bolonga region and promote new ethical entrepreneurship.

Around 800 civilians were massacred by the Nazis in Marzabotto in 1944 and the project is also intended to act as a memorial to those who lost their lives.

Organised by Young Architects Competitions, the contest requires all participating teams to feature at least one architect below 36 years of age.

Digital submissions must be in English and should include a single A1 board no larger than 10MB featuring graphical illustrations alongside a more detailed seven-page A3 brochure.

Judges include Dismeco chief executive Claudio Tedeschi, Valerie Mulvin of Dublin-based McCollough Mulvin Architects, OMA’s Ippolito Pestellini and Agostino Ghirardelli from Libeskind Studio.

The winning team will take home around £8,000 and a second place prize of approximately £3,000 and third place prize of £1,600 will also be awarded. Four honourable mentions worth €1,000 are furthermore available.

The deadline for registration and submissions is 11.59pm GMT on 1 August

How to apply

View the competition website for more information


Early bird registration from 16 May to 12 June: €50
Standard registration from 13 June to 10 July: €75
Late registration from 11 July to 1 August: €90

Contact details

Email: yac@yac-ltd.com

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