The design of public spaces surrounding our homes can have a huge impact on quality of life, societal cohesion, and a sense of belonging in our neighbourhoods. ARCA Puglia Centrale (Italy) collaborated with designers, artists, and residents to turn public ‘spaces’ into ‘places’. The URBAN WALL project combined urban redevelopment and public art to transform existing, underused, and neglected spaces near ARCA Puglia Centrale homes into sustainable, attractive, and collective places for rest and meeting.
What is the URBAN WALL project all about?
The URBAN WALL project involved urban regeneration of public spaces in three districts of Bari: Libertà, San Paolo, and Japigia. The areas all overlook residential complexes built by ARCA Puglia Centrale between the 1930s and 1970s. The project focused on existing spaces of passage and exchange, such as bus stops, news-stands, and services stations, aiming to create a sense of belonging. Thanks to the project, the areas were made more sustainable and more attractive. Three specially designed artistic works were displayed in the newly renovated areas through the installation of an innovative Digital Mosaic Smart Wall with bio-resin tiles.
Combining urban regeneration and public art
In the Libertà district, the urban space was redesigned while respecting historical characteristics. Two limestone flower beds were redeveloped, safeguarding existing trees. A circular fountain equipped with limestone benches was added between the flowerbeds, in the centre of which you can find the artwork. The idea of the foundation, in the shape of a cone opening upwards, encourages passersby to go around the fountain to follow the development of the artwork.
In the San Paolo and Japigia districts, the areas are delimited on two sides by the blind facades of ARCA Puglia Centrale buildings. The Digital Mosaics were installed on these facades. In these districts, the regeneration involved creating a small elliptical square of limestone curbs. Stone benches were placed around the ellipse to allow people to sit and look and the artworks.
Newly planted trees create shade and strengthen the identity of the space as a collective place for rest and meeting. Stone fountains, low-emission LED street lamps, bike racks, drinking water fountains, waste bins, and bus shelters complete the urban furnishing of the public spaces. The bus shelters are equipped with information panels and mobile phone chargers, created by the Bari Mobility and Bus Transport Company (AMTAB).
Installing the artworks
International artists Moneyless and Sam3 designed the artworks. The Digital Mosaic technique reproduces the images on bio-resin tiles at a definition of 300 dpi. Each square is equipped with an Internet of Things (IoT) information system through the placement of a QR code that can be easily scanned by users using smart devices.
During the Bioarchitecture and Sustainability Week 2023, organised by the Agency for Energy and Sustainable Development, ARCA Puglia Centrale won the Daniela Di Croce Sustainability Award. The award celebrates construction principles of bioarchitecture, energy saving, the integration of nature-based solutions in urban areas, the use of non-polluting materials and techniques, social and economic sustainability, and innovation.