Inaugural ceremony of Borgo Digani, the Drive 0 Italian pilot building

Borgo Digani, the Drive 0 pilot building located in Argelato (Italy), has been officially inaugurated on December 1, 2023. The Borgo is now a multi-service and reception complex promoted and implemented by the Fondazione Carisbo with a total investment of around 4 million euros. The new centre is named after Father Gabriele Digani, director of the Opera di Padre Marella and a partner of the Foundation.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by: Patrizia Pasini, President of the Fondazione Carisbo; H.Em. His Eminence Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna; Stefano Bonaccini, President of the Emilia-Romagna Region; Claudia Muzic, Mayor of the Municipality of Argelato; Sara Accorsi, Delegate for Metropolitan Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Housing Policies, Policies for the Bolognese Plain; Simona Tondelli, Vice-Chancellor of the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna (Drive 0 partner); Paolo Bordon, General Manager of the Bologna Local Health Unit.

The rural courtyard of Argelato and the development of the reuse project for social purposes

Owned by the Carisbo Foundation, the building complex called “Corte Palazzo”  is located in the municipality of Argelato and constitutes a classic example of a nineteenth-century rural courtyard, of landscape, historical, and testimonial importance, composed of two main buildings: the Villa and the Barn, as well as an accessory building and a tree-lined courtyard that surrounds the buildings.

In close collaboration with the Metropolitan City of Bologna , the Municipality of Argelato , the Social Sector of the Reno Galliera Union, and with the support of the Pianura Est Personnel Services Company , the Foundation has promoted a project to recover the buildings without speculative purposes, but capable of providing a response to the plurality of present needs and of creating an innovative multidisciplinary experience for the specific local reality, in a context of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

The reference territory is that of the Eastern Plains district made up of 15 municipalities in which approximately 150,000 inhabitants reside, an area with a significant need for accommodation facilities dedicated to physical/mental disabilities and interventions aimed at combating the risk of isolation for elderly and disabled people in the municipality of Argelato. The objective is to convey messages of solidarity, subsidiarity, and mutual enrichment to co-create a more inclusive community and ensure that Borgo Digani becomes a concrete model of generative welfare and circular subsidiarity, for the benefit of the local community.


The executive project: the Villa and the Barn

The multi-service and reception complex of Borgo Digani intends to create a model of generative welfare and circular subsidiarity for the benefit of the local community, lending itself to being a place of reception and cohabitation, in response to the needs of people with psycho-physical disabilities and the care of the Services territorial and ASL. An example of the territory as a self-sufficient structure, open to all and inclusive.

The Villa is a reception place for people with psychophysical disabilities, a community home authorised to host psychiatric users who require assistance and who, for health reasons, can no longer live in their apartments independently and/or with their family members. On the ground floor 7 users will be accommodated and on the first floor 8 users in charge of the Mental Health Services and/or Adult Disability Services of the area, distributed on both floors in 4 rooms with bathroom and common services (kitchen, dining, and day and laundry). The presence of the educational team will be active from 7 am to 9 pm and subsequently, the presence of an operator, who will stay overnight in the Villa, will guarantee supervision. The attic floor will be used as a team meeting and relaxation area.

The ground floor of the Barn is at the center of a social agriculture project for the development of an agritourism business , open to the public and a place of training and work inclusion for adults with disabilities and/or fragility, trainees and users of the Social and Occupational Centre. or in charge of the Social Services and/or Local Health Authority. The catering activity is closely linked to that carried out in the outdoor spaces, i.e. the educational farm, the management of the social gardens, and the point of sale of products grown at zero km. Furthermore, workshops will be organized on bread-making and the production of fresh pasta, on the transformation of garden products, and natural cooking courses, all available to the public, corporate experiences and the associative world. The work team includes 1 professional chef and 5 qualified educators, the 2 rooms will accommodate approximately 50 seats, in addition to the kitchen and functional spaces for catering activities. On the first floor, a 90-seat auditorium is a place dedicated to conferences and institutional meetings, training courses, corporate events, activities relating to the Socio-Occupational Center, and creative laboratory meetings, for stimulation and rehabilitation (music therapy, arts therapy, theater movement), open to the whole territory and dedicated to adults, including elderly people, with degenerative diseases. In the guesthouse and hostel area, there will be 12 beds dedicated to international residential volunteering, sustainable tourism, residential weeks within the summer center, and the Agri Summer Camp for minors aged 5 to 12.


The contribution of the European Union and the PNRR call for the protection and enhancement of rural architecture and landscape

As part of the PNRR M1C3 Investment 2.2 “Protection and enhancement of architecture and rural landscape” call funded by the European Union – NextGenerationEU, the Foundation has nominated the project aimed at the conservative restoration and functional recovery of the building complex. The Emilia-Romagna Region attributed the maximum amount recognized to private entities to the intervention, equal to 150,000 euros. The recovery intervention linked to compliance with particular conservative requirements for the valorisation of the properties (buildings and external courtyard) was thus rewarded, due to the high relevance from a historical and social profile already classified as a “building complex of historical-testimonial value”. Furthermore, the complex falls within the “areas of protection of complex landscape resources”, identified by the PSC of the Municipality of Argelato as areas for the protection and valorisation of valuable landscape elements, placing itself within the intermediate rural areas (zones C) identified by the Emilia-Romagna PSR 2014-2020.

The Villa of Borgo Digani was also one of the seven case studies which, with the Drive 0 project coordinated by the Dutch Huygen Installatie Adviseurs, received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. On the occasion of the start of the construction site, the Department of Architecture of the University of Bologna activated the Driving decarbonization of the EU building stock by enhancing a consumer centered and locally based circular renovation process Drive 0 project aimed at use, within the restructuring path, decarbonisation strategies and circular processes for renewing structures in favor of lower pollution and environmental impact. Together with the project partner Aliva, a company of the Ivas Group, an innovative technological “plug & play” thermal cladding system was created , respecting the typical shapes and finishes of rural buildings in the area. The Villa has also obtained the CasaClima R, a certification that combines high living comfort with high energy savings, for an NZEB (Near Zero Energy Building) building.

Some takeaways from the inauguration day

Patrizia Pasini , President of the Carisbo Foundation: «The executive phase of the project launched by the Foundation in 2019 by the then President Carlo Monti, for the recovery and re-functionalisation of the buildings and adjacent spaces of the property complex called “Corte Palazzo”, has come to completion. A project capable of combining both the work of safeguarding and conserving a historical, testimonial and landscape value, with reference to the memory of the peasant civilisation of the Bolognese Plain, and the mission of the Foundation for the protection of the dignity and social inclusion of people with various frailties and disabilities. The realization of this project was possible thanks to a path shared with the institutions and local authorities and with the collaboration of the partners and third-sector organisations involved. A model of relationships and innovation that allows greater effectiveness to the Foundation’s philanthropic activity and greater impact to the resources involved in this work of solidarity named after Father Gabriele Digani, an unforgettable witness of Christian charity.» .

Stefano Bonaccini , President of the Emilia-Romagna Region: «This project is significant for multiple reasons. It represents an innovative model of personal services and assistance, an important investment in favor of an entire community and, no less importantly, it has allowed the recovery of a historic complex without further land consumption. Therefore, it responds effectively to some of the most decisive challenges that our society is facing in recent years: tailor-made care for people’s lives and the no longer postponable need for sustainable environmental policies. These are exactly the policies that, as a Region, we have been developing in recent years.” .

Claudia Muzic , Mayor of the Municipality of Argelato: «It is with great emotion that I greet the start of the activities of Borgo Digani. The redevelopment of a beautiful farmhouse courtyard in Argelato, in itself an important fact for us, combined with the most important aspect that the Carisbo Foundation has placed at the center of this intervention: listening to the needs of the territory and collaboration with the institutions, to identify the design guidelines that best respond to the needs of those who live in these areas, but not only.» .

Sara Accorsi , Delegate for metropolitan welfare and fight against poverty, housing policies, and policies for the Bolognese Plain: «The inauguration of Borgo Digani represents a new flagship of the metropolitan area of ​​Bologna, and specifically of the area of ​​the Bolognese Plain. It is a regenerative and circular project in the sense that it arises from regeneration, brings social innovation and has the ambition of becoming a place of socio-economic and cultural multi-projects. As the administration of the metropolitan city, we can only joyfully welcome this commitment of the Carisbo Foundation, where the winning forces are the synergies between public and private, between profit and non-profit, between different skills and professionalism, to welcome vulnerable people and plan for them and with them quality lives.» .

Simona Tondelli , Vice Rector of Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna: «This project is an example of how innovation in research can create public value. It can provide analytical and interpretative tools, to structure the most solid and scientifically based knowledge, and propose technologically innovative solutions, attentive to user needs. By supporting the transfer of this knowledge to all public and private actors, the University contributes to the valorisation and qualification of our territories.» .

Paolo Bordon , General Director of the Local Health Authority of Bologna: «In a context in which the resources dedicated to the socio-health sector are limited, the synergy between institutions and the social fabric becomes a fundamental recipe for capitalising community resources, channeling them into a project of general interest. This project therefore represents a virtuous example of how the public, private and third sectors manage to generate value for the most fragile subjects of the community, and with them for the entire community.» .


More about the Borgo Digani – Drive 0 Italian demo

Original source (article in Italian)