The Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries Senior Lecturer, Alessandro Melis, fronts the University of Portsmouth’s partnership with Heliopolis 21 to inaugurate the Fonte Mazzola Park of Culture and multipurpose centre in Peccioli, Italy.
The Fonte Mazzola Park of Culture was inaugurated on the 4th October and includes an outdoor theatre, a conference space, a municipal library, a seminar room (music school) and several annexed facilities.
The project is the regeneration of a popular tourist area within an attractive territory, which has led to the Fonte Mazzola Park of Culture having impact beyond academia; specifically on local communities in terms of economy, society, culture, public policy, services, health, environment and quality of life.
The Park of Culture consistently meets the research themes on sustainability at the University of Portsmouth and the regeneration goals of the United Nations on sustainable development.
The opening of the Park was celebrated with a conference on politics and media culture, with Italian writers and journalists invited to speak, and the event broadcast on television and communicated in several newspapers.
The Park of Culture is located in a culturally protected historical landscape, a few kilometers from San Gimignano in the heart of Tuscany. The originality of the project engages with a complex and relevant problem within the field of architectural practice and theory, namely to maintain the uniqueness of the geographical context within a well known area with the world’s highest density of heritage sites designated by UNESCO.
The Park, even before its regeneration, was an international tourist cultural attraction. It hosts world-class events such as a concert festival directed by Andrea Bocelli, an extensive theatrical season and annual art exhibitions, which include guests and visitors from over twenty nations. The regeneration project will significantly contribute to the development of the area, whilst adding to the intellectual agenda of architectural practice in theoretical, methodological and substantive ways.
The contributions include the development of a less compartmentalised architectural practice that must take into account different specialised competencies, from landscape design to conservation, and innovation in the use of construction and finishing materials.
Secondly, the project contributes to technological innovation, thanks to the use of, ‘cross-laminated timber’ and a metal and ceramic ventilated façade, used for the first time in a conservation project.
Finally, the intervention contributes to the research of the socio-cultural and international character of the Park of Culture, which is indicated among the key elements for ‘impact’ described by the UK REF.