cool city lab

Cool City is a multidisciplinary research / action project that proposes an urban experimentation aimed at achieving the following objectives:





The study focuses on the metropolitan area of ​​Naples and aims at the recovery of dispersed and no longer used water, in order to mitigate the rise in temperature at city level. In fact, Cool City aims at the recovery and re-functionalization of the abundant spring waters that have characterized the hydrogeological history of the Neapolitan city and that today are channeled into sewers or spills connected to the sea. To this regard, Cool City brings together expertise in the fields of urban design, air pollution, hydraulic systems, air conditioning systems, environmental engineering and biology.

– Metropolitan area of Naples

The climate changes. And the cities?

Historical and consolidated cities react slowly and with great difficulty to changes in society and new lifestyles. At the same time, we find ourselves forced to find rapid and economic solutions to combat climate change in order to limit the environmental impact of CO2 emissions.

New cities planning takes into account the current climatic transformations, evaluating interventions by focusing on the environmental factor and proposing appropriate solutions to new and variable needs. However, how does one intervene to adapt the most stratified urban realities to the phenomena in progress? How can one adapt the historical centers of European cities to the changed climatic characteristics? How can one operate effectively and in compliance with the preexistences?

Cool City Lab proposes a debate on these issues, opening a discussion that involves heterogeneous disciplines so as to analyze the various nuances of climate change and bring attention on the territory of Naples as a place of experimentation.

Cool City Lab consists of lectures, discussions in round tables, guided tours and tutorials, collection of data and experiences aimed at the editorial production of the Water Atlas of Naples, a mapping of the dense network of waterways forgotten over time: rivers, streams, springs, abandoned stretches of ancient aqueducts where the water continues to flow.

In the current historical phase, characterized by climate change and exponential population growth, a careful evaluation of the resources available and those necessary to avoid dangerously serious problems is increasingly urgent. These considerations, essential for most of the planet, find reasons to exist especially in a highly urbanized reality like that of the metropolitan city of Naples, lacking in both green and blue areas and, for this reason, struck by the peaks of the “heat islands” in the summer months. Cities can represent the fulcrum of a climate action for the mitigation of temperatures. However, it is only through processes of knowledge and active involvement of citizenship that we can work to promote sustainable environmental policies in an effective manner.

Cool City undertakes a virtuous and ambitious bottom-up path that kick-starts adaptation and resilience plans, stimulate local policies and citizenship to a complete discussion on the benefits that a comfortable habitat can favor in human life.

Cool City Lab proposes a multidisciplinary reasoning on the use of territorial water resources in order to guarantee a sustainable environmental comfort, mitigate the consequences of climate change in cities and protect biodiversity. Cool City proposes itself as a tool to spread the notion of water as a common good in order to safeguard the right of current and future generations to enjoy an intact environmental heritage. Cool City envisions a use of water that avoids waste and increases the livability of the environment.

– Epigraph in via Chiatamone dated 1731

Born between the Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, in a volcanic area active for at least 47 Ka BP, the Neapolitan bay has been inhabited since the Paleolithic, when tectonic phenomena shaped a morphology congenial to animal and plant life. At its founding, Neapolis could accommodate between 15.000 and 20.000 inhabitants and their needs were met by numerous springs that flowed within the wall perimeter. While right outside it, rivers and lakes allowed abundant harvests.

– Campania Felice by Camillo Pellegrino

Naples represents a hybrid typology city that combines both north European and Mediterranean characteristics. Several cultural and formal layers, since the Greek- Roman time to the postmodern neo-kitch, are recognizable in the city: The antique centre with its “ippodameo” masterplan based on “cardi” and “decumani”, the medieval city with its districts (borghi) and castles, the several urban expansions, the neo-classical edifices (first classical style expression after the discovery of Pompeii), the fascist visions such as the “ Mostra d’Oltremare”, the uncontrolled urban speculation after world war II, and the Kenzo Tange urban masterplan extension.

The built environment and the historical Neapolitan culture together represent a concrete model of chaos theory applied to urban systems. Therefore, Naples is one of the most provocative sites for research concerning contemporary urbanization. Every square centimeter of the city is frenzly inhabited. About three million of people move, consume, and live on one of the biggest metropolitan territories in Italy. Naples is dense. A peculiar density made by different urban agglomerates yet still possible to describe according to a single homogenous identity. A world of colors, sounds, spatial and social produced by sudden transformations and constant mutations of cultural fluxes. The city continues to hold a strong identity, while historically capable of absorbing very different influences. Studying and designing Naples is a way to participate in the challenge of a sustainable urbanization, common to many mega-urban-structures like Naples, Honk Kong, Cairo, Mexico City, and Los Angeles. A research and didactical laboratory of experimentation that confronts itself with the contemporary urban materiality: the relationship among infrastructures and built environment, the importance of public spaces, the role of nature, the undefined separation between public and private, deterioration processes of abandoned areas, the potentiality of interstitial spaces, conflicts, tensions, auto-organizational expansions, residues, occupations, the non-institutional character of some urban development processes.

Cool City Lab provides:

Inspections: Conca di Agnano / Volla-Fiume Sebeto / Fonte del Chiatamone

• Roberto Germano (theoretical physicist) / Paola Mercogliano (climatologist) / Gianluca Minin (geologist) / Nick De Pace (landscape architect)

Guided tours: at the National Library of Naples / city caves – CelaNapoli – Augusteo Aqueduct – Underground Naples

Elaboration of proposals with the support of field research: interviews / video-photographic documentation / data collection of the volumes of city water networks / comparative analysis of historical maps of the city.

                        – Fresh water seller

In this sense, Cool City intends to meet the United Nations sustainability goals (SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals). The Galli law (updated D.L.vo 11th May 1999 n. 152) defines all surface and underground waters as a public good to be used according to solidarity criteria and whose safeguard is of common interest. Cool City proposes itself as a tool to spread the notion of water as a common good in order to safeguard the right of current and future generations to enjoy an intact environmental heritage. Cool City envisions a use of water that avoids waste and increases the livability of the environment thereby ensuring biodiversity.