Centocelle, Italy

Centocelle Archaeological Park (Rome, IT)

The Rome CHL, named “Collaboratory” is hosted by an urban area corresponding to the so-called “Rome South East District”. The area includes parts of several neighborhoods and its borders are expandable and subject to change. Currently, the neighborhoods are the following: Centocelle; Alessandrino; Torre Spaccata. The site of the Collaboratory is characterized by high levels of social and economic vulnerability within the City of Rome. The VI District and in particular the area of Torre Spaccata presents the lowest Human Development Index within the City and the lowest income levels.

The Rome Collaboratory will eventually select few heritage sites but for the moment has decided to adopt a distributed approach and across heritage sites in the areas belonging to the Co-district. The heritage site consists of: historical heritage; archeological remains; environmental heritage; built heritage. It has already created community gardens and taken legal responsibility in at least three sites adjacent to actual heritage sites.

One of the most important heritage site of the co-district is the Public Archaeological Park of Centocelle, which is rich of archaeological finds of public and religious architecture of Republican Era, such as the ancient “Osteria di Centocelle” (an ancient buiding with a round-based hall covered by a dome of tuff and brick), two roman villas (Villa della Piscina and Villa ad Duas Lauros), the “Mussolini Tunnel”, a structure that was built under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini in order to become the first Rome subway, and the landing strip from which the well-known aviators and inventors the Wright brothers experienced their first flight in Italy. The site was also relevant in modern times as the first airport in Italy was opened here in 1909.

The Tower of San Giovanni is another important historic site situated between the neighborhood Torre Spaccata and Centocelle and it goes back to the 20th century. The neighborhood Alessandrino, instead, is crossed by the Roman aqueduct. Considering the open definition of heritage used in the project, the community hub, Fusolab, represents an important heritage for the community: it was, in fact, and abandoned building which, thanks the intervention of this Association, has become the heart of the life of the neighborhood. It offers several services and courses as well as coworking spaces. Beside the importance of these goods according to their historical values, they all have a strong social value. The city inhabitants living or working in the area, in fact, identifies herself with these spaces; they play a key role in the process of identity building both as an individual and as part of the community.

Alongside historical and archeological heritage, the co-district is rich in cultural and creative heritage. There is a public library, the Rugantino library, surrounded by a green area and posed in front of a privately-owned wide park, the “Pratone” and there are green spaces within public spaces such as squares and schools that are very important as social infrastructure and places where the inhabitants self-organize cultural meetings and creative exhibitions.

AIMS of the CHL

The Rome Collaboratory heritage site has a very high value for a variety of actors: heritage communities, local regional and national level, supra-national level. The local community, supported and enabled by the action-research carried out by the LUISS LabGov team takes care of the heritage of the Co-District with constant monitoring activities, heritage-led actions, cooperative placemaking activities, heritage walks and building narratives (unique stories of individuals and groups or emblematic places that nurture the very essence of heritage communities).

Figure 1. Heritage-led action of cooperative placemaking within the Public Archeological Park of Centocelle.

The Community for the public park of Centocelle also values heritage sites of the Rome collaborator by using urban green spaces as environmental social infrastructures that build connections within the tangible and intangible heritage sites within the co-district. As a preliminary actions to reach this goal, the Community formally adopted two green areas, one close to the Park the “Giardino Isola Felice” and one in front of the Biblioteca Rugantino and installed, with the support and facilitation of the LUISS LabGov team, two community gardens within the areas.

Figure 2 Installation of the community garden within the adopted green area adopted by the CPPC in front of the Rugantino Public Library, 5 May 2018.

The co-district heritage is highly significant for the heritage communities and the supra-national level. The first challenge that the Rome CHL will face is the increase of visibility of the cultural heritage. The first action to reach this goal is the submission by the Community, supported by LUISS researchers, of an application to be recognized as an Heritage Community pursuant to the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the value of cultural heritage for society, signed by Italy on 27 February 2013. The Convention develops the idea of a “common European heritage”, within which that cultural heritage shared by Europeans interacts with democratic, political and social ideals, to generate the ideal of a common European responsibility for cultural heritage. In that sense, the Rome CHL, the Collaboratory, involves a diverse heritage community composed by the Community for the Public Park of Centocelle, interested city inhabitants, commercial shop owners and local entrepreneurs, knowledge actors that foster the protection and promotion of Centocelle’s cultural heritage. This heritage community could develop an heritage public service where the community would not only be a recipient of the service, but an actual co-producer.

Starting from September 2018, the work of the LUISS LabGov team to accompany the recognition of the community as a FARO heritage community continued with the organization of a heritage walk during the European Heritage Days. The aim of the heritage was to discover and tell the unknown cultural heritage of the neighborhoods to participants like the members of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF), who have taken part to the bike tour.

Alongside the work on the cultural heritage and the support with the application for the recognition as a FARO Heritage Community, the LUISS LabGov team is working on the sustainability scheme of the Rome CHL, which entail both legal and economic challenges. The objective is to support the CHL to develop a sustainable business model, in which the main source of funding is internal to the CHL. Therefore, the CHL will develop activities which are able to create revenues and sustain themselves. At this aim in the months of October and November, three co-design laboratories have been organized by the LUISS team to start-up the formal constitution of a Community Cooperative, which will be the first community cooperative at the urban level in a metropolitan Italian city.


Figure 3 Heritage Walk, Torre di San Giovanni (Torre Spaccata), 22 September 2018.

Figure 4 Heritage Walk, Acquedotto Alessandrino (Alessandrino), 22 September 2018.