The birth of the Community for the Public Park of Centocelle: the importance of local communities in preserving cultural heritage.

Over the past three years, LabGov has been working on the city of Rome on the conditions that favors and hampers the development of a smart co-district in a metropolitan city. This hypothesis was pursued with a complex research strategy that started in 2015, is still ongoing and consisted in an application through adaptation of the Co-City protocol in the City of Rome. Info and materials are available here: The first step was that of identifying a zone of urban experimentalism. The result of the first year of applied work resulted in the identification of an area, the Co-district “Roma Sud Est” composed of areas belonging to the V and VI Districts of the City of Rome, in particular the following neighborhoods: Alessandrino, Centocelle and Torre Spaccata. The Co-district “Roma Sud Est” represents a complex urban area because it is characterized by low indicators of social and economic fragility within the City of Rome. The VI District and in particular the urban area of Torre Spaccata presents the lowest level of Human Development Index, highest rates of poverty and of inequalities of the city. According to data on social and economic vulnerability of Rome’s neighborhoods these areas are inhabited mainly by elderly persons (more than 28% of the residents in Torre Spaccata); the Municipalities V and VI are the poorest in the city: the average income is 18.940 in the V, 17,069 in the VI; they have the lowest level of education: the average is 10.3 and 9.7 years respectively. The Human Development Index in the VI is the lowest in the city (0.455), slightly higher in the V (0.571). [1]After a long work of mapping and knowledge of the area through the organization of several cheap talks and site visits, LabGov started to collaborate with the local community and together they experimented new forms of collaborative urban governance.

The 1st December 2017 is an important date for this community, which is working for the preservation of the Archaeological Public Park of Centocelle and for the entire district. It is, in fact, the day in which the “Community for the Public Park of Centocelle” (hereinafter: CPPC) was institutionalized as an NGO[2]. Before the constitution, a co-design session and several cheap talks on field have been organized by LabGovers, putting local communities and their needs at the center. A large number of inhabitants has participated at this process: together with innovation experts and service designers, they have analyzed the territory and their needs, but also how they could contribute to the regeneration of their neighborhoods. At the end of these labs, a group of citizens decided to self-organise and to set up an association for the purpose of preserving and regenerating the Public Park of Centocelle resource and its heritage, which was in a state of complete abandonment and deterioration.

Figure 1 Co-design Lab in Casa della Cultura Villa De Sanctis, 22nd september 2016. Source:

The CPPC is therefore the result of an intense work with the local community, based on the valorization and empowerment of its social capital.

According to the Statute of the CPPC, the work of the members will be based on the principles of civic collaboration and social responsibility towards the cultural heritage of the City of Rome. The CPPC is aimed, indeed at promoting and exploiting the historic, cultural and environmental heritage of the Archaeological Park of Centocelle, which is a complex resource: a cultural and environmental urban commons. It is for that reason that the CPPC has decided to initiate the procedures related to the recognition as Faro Community, taking inspiration by the principles of the Faro Convention signed at Lisbon on October 2015. As reported by the Council of Europe, a Faro Community “is a heritage community consisting of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations”. Hence, in order to transfer good practices also at the European level, the Association, among the different goals and activities set, is committed to organize regeneration activities in the Park, to promote walks and cultural activities such as workshop, meetings, aimed at involving the local community, increasing the participation and promoting a sustainable tourism and the creation of new cultural, social, polycentric and collaborative economies. For instance, the Community for the Public Park of Centocelle, in collaboration with others local NGOs like the Neighborhood Committee “Comitato di Quartiere di Torre Spaccata” and the NGO of bikers “Settimo Biciclettari” have organized several workshops about the archaeological and historic heritage of the area. The labs have taken place in several key places of the district and have been organized by important experts who have told the community the history of those places. Experimenting the culture as an entry point has been the main goal of these laboratories.

Moreover, CPPC is the community organizer of the “Civic Collaboration Day”, an all-day long itinerant journey throughout the co-district, during which several activities are organized: from walks to activities of community gardening, labs, kids’ games and concerts in order to cultivate the community and to live the neighborhoods in a different way. The third edition of the Civic Collaboration Day was held on May 5th 2018 in the so-called Co-District. During the day the CPPC, together with LabGov, LUISS University, ENEA and the Vth District of the City of Rome, have organized a heritage walk to promote a new way to live and discover the territory, thanks to the work done by the local community and new narratives of those places and who lives there, telling their histories, projects and experiences. Hundreds of persons have participated, walking or riding bikes, discovering the key places and taking part in several and different activities. The most exciting aspect of this day has been the wide participation and collaboration of local citizens in organizing the walk. Starting from the Park of Acquedotti in the neighborhood of Don Bosco, passing through Torre Spaccata, Centocelle and Tor Sapienza, the walk ended at FusoLab, in the Alessandrino neighborhood, which is a community hub that provides local services, organize cultural events and which works as a catalyst for the entire area and local community.

Figura 3 Heritage Walk during the Civic Collaboration Day, 5th May 2018. Source Facebook

In conclusion, it has been not only a walk, but the result of years of hard work of research and action carried out by experts, researchers and citizens to preserve and valorize the important heritage, of which they are the guardians.



[2]According to the reform of the so-called “third sector”, the law that regulates the social and not for profit sector approved in Italy on July 3rd 2017, “D.Lgs 3rd July 2017, n.117”