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Transforming social housing with innovative timber construction and circular design

The example of Italy

Italy, 3 March 2024 | Published in Energy, Future of the EU & Housing

From now on, expect more updates on how the social and affordable housing sector is introducing timber and innovating with wooden construction. This will happen thanks to our new EU-funded project Be-WoodEN which aims to promote the decarbonisation of buildings and improve circularity in the building sector overcoming barriers that prevent the widespread use of wood and bio-based materials.

The project is coordinated by the University of Genoa and will provide a series of capacity-building activities linked to the New European Bauhaus, putting a focus on how innovative wood construction and place-making can be further introduced to social housing. Public housing by ARTE Imperia and ACER Reggio Emilia in Italy are offering two pilots for demonstration. 

Our Junior Innovation and Project Officer, Margherita Marinelli is just back from a site of ARTE which manages social housing in Imperia, a small city close to the French border. The homes have a strong focus on elderly people, as Liguria is the region in Europe that has the largest ageing population. ARTE is pursuing a strategy that foresees agreements with private owners to use their buildings in exchange for renovation. This, however, still proves to be difficult as Imperia is a touristy town where short-term rentals are profitable in high season. The property was purchased by ARTE (1.300.000€) with the idea of creating 18 small apartments/studios to relocate elderly people who currently live in bigger flats that they are not able to afford to heat and maintain. Now, ARTE is launching a challenge for professionals to design the complex with wooden elements. The winners will be invited to the final event of the Be-WoodEN in Brussels but that is in two years time. Until then, watch this space for more updates.