Rome hopes to attract the bright lights of Expo 2030, the Universal Exhibition that, since the building of the Tour Eiffel when Paris welcomed it, has been an opportunity of development and growth for the host city. And to convince the Bureau International des Exposition, the committee that awards the event, the city is ready to launch a series of record projects, the latest of which — just announced in the past few days — would become the largest solar plant ever built within a city. The large “green” energy plant, to be built in the Tor Vergata area, one of the neighborhoods Rome has chosen to host the Expo events, is but one of the many projects that by 2030 would transform the capital of Italy, improving its sustainability and mobility.
From new tram lines, the completion of strategic urban railway lines, and the extension of the subway’s C line, the numerous projects aim to develop a network of sustainable mobility to reduce urban traffic and cut travel times in one of the largest cities in the world.
Carlo Ratti’s dream: a unique solar park.
The latest project that Rome added on its wishlist is signed by top urban architect Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable Lab in Boston. Carlo Ratti Associati, the Italian architect Italo Rota and the urbanist Richard Burdett made public their masterplan for Roma 2030, which is marked by the Expo Solar Park, a 150,000 squared meters solar farm with a peak production capacity of 36 megawatts. It would be the largest of its kind every built within a city.
According to the project presented by Carlo Ratti, the park would be created in Tor Vergata, chosen by the city of Rome as the main site of the Expo, and be formed by hundreds of “energetic trees,” tree-like structures that, just like a plant, will open and colse their solar panels, producing energy and providing shade for visitors during the day. This energy production complex will be connected with “Ecosystem 0.0,” a pavilion that will be the highest building of the Expo and will produce fresh air via evaporation.
“Expo 2030 Roma aims to break new ground for World’s Fairs and other large-scale events,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. “Our master plan experiments with collective city-making processes, new energy-sharing strategies, and inclusive urban transformations that go well beyond the temporal and spatial confines of the event.”
An urban transformation that begins with infrastructure.
The revolution of Tor Vergata, an overlooked area of Rome that dreams to be revived, is just the final phase of the transformation process that the capital of Italy would like to launch taking advantage of the Expo investments.
Infrastructure for urban mobility is the key to this process. Which is why Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri aims to combine a mix of cash sources ranging from the holy year celebration Giubileo 2025 and Expo 2030 to the national recovery fund PNRR, a mix of Italian and European Union funds, in order to revive some projects and begin new ones.
Among these, one of the most significant is certainly the extension of the underground’s C line, the vast project being carried out by the Webuild group, for which the Italian government has earmarked 2.2 billion euros over the next ten years. The line, which starts from the outskirts of the capital, today reaches the Colosseum and is expected to continue its path towards Piazza Venezia and from there cross the historical center of the city towards the Prati neighborhood, via the Clodio and Farnesina areas, to finally reach Grottarossa.
“It is a strategic project for the capital and the country,” Mayor Gualtieri said in Paris presenting Rome’s Expo 2030 dossier to the BIE, “and it is indispensable to improve public transport as sustainable mobility.”
This improvement will be ensured by the realization of other construction projects such as the closing of the railway ring, the surface railway line around the city that requires only the last segment to be completed. This completion, which includes investments by Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian company that manages the country’s railway network, will contribute to create an integrated network with high speed train lines and the railway connecting the city to Fiumicino Airport. All strategic projects for the capital of Italy that dreams of presenting itself to the world during the Expo with a new image, that of a modern and sustainable metropolis.