SPAZIO13 is the conversion of a former disused school into a creative hub in a suburb of Libertà (IT)
Underused buildings | Activating
Source: Bari municipality
Source: Bari municipality
Keywords: Culture and Heritage | Public spaces | Social Innovation | Youth | Urban Renewal


SPAZIO13 is a community experience of social innovation and reuse of a decommissioned public building, having triggered the involvement of residents and stakeholders in the transformation process affecting the neighbourhood. This urban regeneration process includes an extensive network of 15 youth associations. In addition to the public multicultural nursery school set up by the city, the property of 1,000 square metres is composed of three areas: 1) Informal Education (architectural/engineering design, photography, startup businesses, digital communication); 2) Making (fabLab 3D printing, carpentry, audio/video production, recording music, photo printing); and 3) Events and social spaces (co-working, public library, public events and conversations).


SPAZIO13 offers a virtuous and subsidiary solution of community conversion of an abandoned public space strongly integrated with urban regeneration through social innovation levers and the leadership of a local youth network. A good practice of conversion, participation and innovation focused on communities, residents and local economies. SPAZIO13 is a learning space and its concept was started by a collective research action conducted on the neighbourhood identity by 15 associations of young architects, urban planners, designers, photographers, communication experts and European policies experts with residents, families and young residents. Through its participatory methodology approach to conversion of public space, SPAZIO13 is an antidote to gentrification in city suburbs. Its cultural offering, stratified into different sections (education, production and collaboration), provides interdisciplinary and multi-target methods for dialogue with the neighbourhood, highly integrated with the local networks and strongly oriented objectives of economic rebirth.


Activating: match-making

SPAZIO13 was inspired by the will of the city to convert the former school in the target neighbourhood of its regeneration strategy. A local group was selected after a national tender. SPAZIO13 is a collaborative project that is based on the participation of civil society and local networks preliminarily involved in the co-design phase of conversion. The city of Bari established a partnership with the local group. Subsequently, the partnership involved the local university, representatives of the local economy, cultural stakeholders and residents' associations to define the best proposal. The start of the conversion has been marked by two important experiences: a photo contest opened to all residents to attest to the school’s identity before the change with a hashtag on Instagram (#nontiscordardimelo) and Huffington Post as a media partner, an experience of collective self-building to adapt the spaces at the new functions. The space was furnished through an open call to residents to donate disused furniture and fittings in exchange for participation in the courses. Neighbourhood focus groups were held to define priorities and activities.


Some results of SPAZIO13 have already been achieved, and other objectives are being realized. The results achieved and expected are:

  1. Promote the conversion of the former school through a collective self-build path and co-design workshops with associations and residents: SPAZIO13 has involved 15 NGOs and 80 young people (16-35 age group) in the co-design of 1 000 square metres,
  2. Activate an urban laboratory of education, production and social innovation serving communities: SPAZIO13 is involving 630 young people in informal educational courses and trainings and hosts five start-ups in co-working.
  3. Promote a collaborative network at the neighbourhood level composed by associations, professionals, institutional, economic and research that can play an active role in the regeneration process: SPAZIO13 has managed the involvement of 1 110 people, including residents and local stakeholders (universities, schools, local economy representations, cooperatives, youth associations etc.) in public events and discussions. In terms of social impact, SPAZIO13 proposes an overall increase of awareness on participatory planning (+25%), an empowerment of new skills (+ 15%), an increase of knowledge about the neighbourhood regeneration plan involving 10 000 inhabitants, other 25 NGOs and more than 10 local schools.


City information

Population size: 251-500 th
Population development dynamics within the city administrative limits (at the time of the project): Stable
Population development dynamics of the functional urban area (at the time of the project): No data/not applicable
Website of the city:

Project information

Project territorial scale: Neighbourhood
Project geographical area: Periphery of the city
Project/building proportions: Over 1000 sqm; Project Area: No data/not applicable
Project main actors: Local (district) Government; Cultural, creative organisation, non-commercial private sector; Resident association, group, citizens
Project dominant property ownership: Public
Project development stage (at the time of description): Nearly finished
Project duration: 2 to 5 years
Project starting date: 2011-2014

Project references (web pages, social media or press publications);

Contact Person

Vitandrea Marzano, Mayor's Staff