Starting off 2024 well, we are pleased to welcome a new Eurhonet member from Italy: ARCA Puglia Centrale, based in Bari. We spoke to ARCA Puglia Centrale’s CEO (Amministratore Unico), Pietro Augusto de Nicolo to find out more!
Pietro Augusto de NicoloCEO, ARCA Puglia Centrale
Welcome to Eurhonet! Let’s get to know your organisation…
“ARCA Puglia Centrale has existed since 1906. We manage a real estate portfolio (also partly built in 1910) of approximately 27,000 homes. Our role is to manage the public assets and above all, implement the regional housing policy. This involves building interventions based on quality and energy saving – both at a construction level and at an urban regeneration level.
The homes we manage have been developed with the different construction systems that have followed one another over the last century. The different design solutions are very interesting. This experience allows us to see reuse and redevelopment – both in terms of structure and energy – as central to our needs. In addition, we strive for newly constructed buildings to have a low environmental impact and to drive urban redevelopment and social inclusion.
The Agency is the main protagonist of the fundamental process of regeneration of the social fabric, especially in the suburbs, expanding our user base to new groups of people. Therefore, coordination on housing policies with the Puglia Region and all the municipalities involved is of primary importance.”
What is your professional background and why did you begin working in social housing?
“Before being appointed CEO (L’Amministratore Unico) of the Regional Agency for Home and Living, I gained an extensive knowledge of the governance of public administration both through my professional activity as a lawyer and through participation in various bodies of the same public administration. (Assessment Bodies [Organi di Valutazione], Boards of Directors of public companies, instrumental bodies of the Puglia Region [Organi strumentali della Regione Puglia] etc.).
The housing issue has taken on a new centrality in recent decades. The real estate market is responding with increasing difficulty to the needs of different social groups. My hope is to be able to contribute through innovative choices so that the Agency can bring together the interests and real aspirations of the community. To do this, we need to use our organisation as a tool to represent the community’s general interest and for the pursuit of common good.
Therefore, for me, social housing represents an opportunity and a challenge for improving integration.”
What are ARCA Puglia Centrale’s key priorities right now?
“ARCA Puglia Centrale pays strong attention to the environment and the challenges of energy transition. We invest in sustainable construction, energy requalification, creating opportunities for meeting and exchange, and the reconversion of common spaces. We aim to guarantee useability and promote social integration by involving tenants and safeguarding public resources as the engine of a solidarity economy.
I believe it is essential to enhance the human resources of the agency. This will help us to strengthen and optimise processes, overcome difficulties, and work in synergy with stakeholders to find the most suitable answers to meet the needs of our residents.”
Can you tell us about a recent project that you are proud of?
“We recently won the 2023 National Sustainability Award in the “Public Spaces” category during the Bioarchitecture and Sustainability Week.
The week is dedicated to sustainable and innovative solutions and organised by the Agency for Energy and Sustainable Development (AESS). Our URBAN WALL project combined urban regeneration with public art to transform underused and neglected public spaces overlooking ARCA Puglia Central complexes into sustainable, attractive, and collective places for rest and meeting.”
What are the main challenges for public and social housing in your region?
“A challenge is certainly putting people at the centre of the entire system. I believe that the participatory approach can help us achieve our mission: putting people and families back in the centre with a view to social cohesion and a firm fight against marginality.
The success of our efforts in public and social housing depends on meeting people’s needs and responding to their ways of interacting. If we achieve this, we improve not only the quality of living in the single home, but in the entire neighbourhood, the whole city. So, I see this not just as a challenge but as an opportunity for growth.”
What made you want to join Eurhonet?
“We signed up to Eurhonet out of a desire to create networks, which we believe are an essential tool for creating wealth. By building networks, individuals can access new opportunities, learn new skills, build their confidence, and gain support from others. This collaboration will certainly lead to us acquiring new information, meeting experts in the sector, improving our skills, and learning about new trends and developments in the sector.
Having already been part of Eurhonet in the past, we saw the need not to isolate ourselves on certain issues. We did not want to miss the opportunity to join members of the most cutting-edge network in this sector. Given the large number of tenants that we serve and the assets that we manage every day, we are also able to contribute our experiences to benefit other Eurhonet members.”
What is ARCA Puglia Centrale hoping to gain from the network?
“We hope to promote innovative best practices for our regional territory in collaboration with other Eurhonet members, as well as develop new opportunities by looking both at those who are one step ahead and at those who have similar problems to ours. We also hope to get support for participation in European tenders regarding sustainability and the reuse and redevelopment of public residential buildings.
We are very interested in sharing experiences with other countries. Our geographical position as the most southernmost member of the Eurhonet network brings with it different solutions compared to the other members. So, we will bring our unique experience for experimenting with new materials and the use of innovative and alternative design solutions.”