Bellinzona city center is to receive a radical face lift. Following the relocation of the SBB workshops, a model eco neighborhood complete with innovation park is to be constructed on the vacated site. The city, SBB and canton of Ticino have now showcased the selected “Porta del Ticino” project.

A new model district is to be constructed right at the heart of Bellinzona. An expert jury for the city has now decided on the “Porta del Ticino” (Gateway to Ticino) project from a total of five submitted plans. This chosen project places themes such as sustainability, intergenerationality and slow mobility into the spotlight. In particular, an innovation park is also part of the plan, Bellinzona writes in a press release.

Furthermore, there will also be space for 2,500 people to live in this new neighborhood, the Ticino newspaper “La Regione” writes. The urban regeneration project, described as both “epochal” and “far-reaching” by the city in its press release, has now been presented to the general public by the project partners, namely the city of Bellinzona itself, SBB and the canton of Ticino. All plans are on display in Piazza del Sole until November 7, 2020.

According to the city of Bellinzona, the project impressed on account of “its courageous urban development and landscape design approach, which proposes to leave the central area of the project space undeveloped in order to provide the entire population with an open green space in addition to opening up the new district as a natural and attractive addition to the city as a whole”.

Covering an area of 120,000 square meters, the proposed site for this new district is currently still occupied by the historic SBB workshops. Following relocation, the workshop activities will be based in Arbedo-Castione from 2026 onwards. Thereafter, work can get underway to realize the model district project. The vision for this is likely to only become a reality in a minimum of 20 years, as reported by the online newspaper Additional development steps are earmarked for completion in 30 to 40 years’ time.

As a video portraying the development project available on YouTube also shows, the district is to be built around the 101-year-old “cathedral” that forms the heart of the SBB workshops, which have been listed for protection as an historic monument. Here, around 500 old and new locomotives are serviced and maintained each year up to the present day. The workshops are one of the most important industrial buildings across the canton of Ticino as a whole.

This urban regeneration project was devised by a team comprising the Zurich-based sa_partners, TAM associati from Venice, Italy, and the Milan-based landscape architect Franco Giorgetta.

Susanne Zenker, Member of the Board at SBB Real Estate, recalls in an interview with “La Regione” how the workshops were “always closed to the external world”. In future, however, the area will be “opened up to the population and transformed into an attractive space”. With regard to the convergence of private and public stakeholders, which has primarily been focused on the field of technology, the new area will represent something akin to “a calling card for the Bellinzona of tomorrow”.

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