Thanks to a project begun in 2018, Piazza De Gasperi has changed from being an anonymous car park in a run-down area to a symbol of successful regeneration and a model for other urban projects.
This process was the result of an initiative launched by the local inhabitants in Padua who, having grown tired of the urban decay and lack of safety in the area around Piazza de Gasperi, Via Trieste and Corso del Popolo, asked the municipal authorities to intervene and set up a participatory project.
This resulted in the founding of an association (Padova Design District), made up of local residents as well as the owners of shops and businesses that had dwindled over time. The idea was to include everyone in the area in the process. The association promoted a series of events, from book presentations, exhibitions and wood sculpture competitions to a dance course, aperitifs and parties. All the events were open to everyone as they were an opportunity to inform and involve more people and encourage them to take part in the round tables that were held every fortnight for a year and a half.
The redesign of a car park located behind a dilapidated building was at the heart of the project, as the municipal authorities wanted to show that a car park could become something else, such as a space for temporary markets, an open-air theatre, a play area or an exhibition space. Now, instead of a car park, the area has become a sort of coloured square in which space has been redistributed to create open-air zones for bars and restaurants as well as pedestrian and cycle paths. 33 trees have also been planted where previously there were none at all.
At the centre of the car park, there is a basketball court that is used at all times of the day. These new uses required new lighting and an LED system was chosen, based on pole-mounted UFO luminaires, which are currently set at 40% and 70% to guarantee a ground lighting level of 15 Lux, as required by safety standards. The luminaires are fitted with a control system (LMS) that enables these settings to be adjusted to suit the requirements of future events that may be staged in the square.
The project also achieves energy savings of up to 80% in line with regional energy saving and light pollution directives (Arpav Light Pollution Observatory). It has improved street circulation and safety thanks to greater resident and user accessibility and has also enhanced overall environmental conditions.
The square is busy at all hours, and new businesses have been opened, including an antique shop, an artist’s studio and the head offices of a publishing company. The project’s success has been recognised, too, by the international magazine “Paysage” who awarded it their second prize from a field of 150 projects from all over the world.
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