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Fondazione Innovazione Urbana

Officina – Bologna Attiva


A coworking space, a study room and various proximity services for students, career guidance, mutualism and cultural and community activities.


The project is called Bologna Attiva – Officina metropolitana per il nuovo lavoro, il mutualismo e l’economia collaborativa (Bologna Attiva – Metropolitan Workshop for new work, mutualism and the collaborative economy) – and is a human, urban and social regeneration project based on an unprecedented collaboration, which sees public, private and community entities working together to create a space for work, study, cultural activities and open dialogue between the community, professionals and students, experimenting with innovative practices for reusing part of an area that represents an important opportunity for the territory and its citizens to transform the city and meet new needs. 

We caught up with Chiara Faini, cultural projects coordinator at Fondazione Innovazione Urbana, Giuseppe Seminario, community manager, and Elisabetta Caruso, neighbourhood agent for the Porto-Saragozza neighbourhood.



Your work is part of a broad perspective of urban policies. What foundations have you created and what is the objective? 

Bologna Attiva has as its objective the development within the former Scalo Ravone (and the DumBO district) of a new city pole capable of bringing together knowledge, innovation, well-being and culture.

Although the project was conceived with a view to the temporary use of the district’s spaces, Bologna Attiva fits fully into the long-term perspective of Bologna City of Knowledge, which lays the foundations for the creation of an integrated city ecosystem in which science, knowledge and innovation become drivers of city change as well as drivers of development, talent attraction, inclusion and urban transformation capable of guiding the city towards digital, economic and environmental transition processes.

The northwest quadrant of the city will become the object of major urban and environmental regeneration projects, which will be implemented thanks to PNRR funds. Specifically, on the former Scalo Ravone the objective is the creation of a new pole dedicated to social and cultural innovation, designed to enhance and further expand the current experiences of DumBO and Bologna Attiva.

It is within this framework that, starting in June 2021, Bologna Attiva has activated innovative processes of urban and social regeneration, prototyping of services and tools dedicated to new work and new forms of entrepreneurship within its spaces, with a view to social and cultural innovation, mutualism and collaborative economy: a generative and regenerative structure of collaboration, cooperation and experimentation between businesses, associations, creative people, students and citizens.


What has been the path to today and what do you expect from the future? 

Bologna Attiva is a project developed by the Foundation for Innovation in collaboration with Open Event and thanks to the fundamental support of the Municipality of Bologna and the University of Bologna. The project obtained funding under the Regional Programme for Productive Activities, thanks to which, in the summer of 2021, work began on the redevelopment of the Officina warehouse, which now houses a coworking space, a study room, and various proximity services for students, career guidance, mutualism, and cultural and community activities.  In the immediate future, the challenge is to continue to develop the community network that now inhabits these spaces by carrying out, in parallel, redevelopment work on the spaces of Temporanea (the project’s second shed) and the exteriors of both Temporanea and Officina.


What activities have you carried out and how have the realities created new synergies and shared projects? 

Bologna Attiva’s intervention has so far been realised on one of the district’s warehouses, Officina, and the activation of Temporanea and the adjacent outdoor areas is planned. After an initial public presentation in June 2021, the project started with various activities. This already started with the Bologna si Attiva call for proposals, which selected and supported the realisation of various socio-educational, workshop and cultural activities aimed at children, adolescents and families in the neighbourhood in September 2021. This first experiment was implemented through a second public notice that selected a group of Third Sector organisations to manage the Community Space, through a programme characterised by a strong civic and proximity vocation and built-in synergy with the district’s other activities. 

The activation of the workspaces in October last year, with the presence of various local realities and start-ups, was followed by an accompaniment process in which the workers were involved in building the community and programming of Bologna Attiva. This direct involvement led to the creation of exhibitions such as SuperOFF, an exhibition produced by Publics ICC, and services dedicated to training and job empowerment, such as the Sportello lavoro creativo @ Bologna Attiva.

The cultural programming, despite the space’s young age, has been varied and has seen the realisation of events linked to workers in the creative world, exhibitions and installations, talks and conferences, and finally training and workshops. In December 2021, on the other hand, the Borges Study Room @ Bologna Attiva was opened, in synergy with the Borges Library and thanks to the collaboration with the Municipality of Bologna and the University of Bologna, a service aimed at the area’s student population offering individual study stations, for group work and distance learning, which will continue throughout 2022 and currently hosts around 350 students every month. A further element of innovation is the fact that the study room spaces host a consultation station for the city’s Library Pole Catalogue co-managed with the Borges Library.


What feedback have you received to date? 

The feedback we have received is varied and fundamental. Those of the resident realities are positive because they have grasped the potential of the project, its connective and relational nature, and the advantages of being part of a wide and varied District such as DumBO and in a multifunctional space such as the Workshop. We also launched a survey, in collaboration with the university association Culturit, to investigate opinions and knowledge of the Bologna Attiva project among students. From the first answers, the evening openings – the study room is open until midnight on Wednesdays and Thursdays and we aim to expand the hours of use – and the presence of a box for group study are the most appreciated services.


What are the critical issues in this area and how do your activities intercept communities? 

The presence of communities in the area within Officina, entered thanks to the public notice Spazio di comunità @ Bologna Attiva, has given the project a greater civic breadth, opening up the District very strongly to the residents of the Quadrilatero Scalo – Malvasia area, one of the most critical in the neighbourhood. This intervention is developed in direct synergy and continuity with various projects that the Foundation has launched in collaboration with the administration and that provide services and support in particular to the youngest and oldest age groups, in fact, those most present in this area, which has the highest rates of fragility in the entire Porto – Saragozza district.

The objective of all these pathways is to offer new opportunities for civic and cultural growth for the area’s residents, and this is possible thanks to the valuable collaboration between the associations that work in this area daily, some of which are also within the District, in the Community Space. A fundamental role in this process is played by the Foundation’s Neighbourhood Agent who, through the work of investigating and actively listening to the needs and instances of the area, weaves relationships and synergies aimed at identifying shared and innovative solutions that are also developed through Bologna Attiva.

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