Carlo Ratti proposes world’s largest urban solar farm | Expo 2030

Rome is bidding to host the World Expo in 2030, putting forward an impressive proposal by Carlo Ratti Associati to create the world’s largest urban solar farm.

Featuring hundreds of square-shaped energy trees, the impressive master plan is orchestrated through a collaboration between Carlo Ratti Associati, architect Italo Rota, and urbanist Richard Burdett, who are enlisting the help of engineers ARUP and Systematica, and landscape designer LAND. 

The expansive solar farm explores the concept of ‘energy-sharing’, with the idea that all nations would contribute and help power the exhibition site with renewable energy. It would provide “the basis for a 21st-century urban commons”, according to Carlo Ratti, and pioneer a new vision for future urban development. 

From above, the ‘energy tree’ infrastructure’ gives the entire Expo site a signature mosaic look

“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.”

If selected, Expo 2030 Roma will take place in Rome’s Tor Vergeta district, which is home to an eponymous university, a densely inhabited residential area, and the Vela sports complex by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. 

Pavilions will be used for different functions, giving shape to a new innovation district and aiding sustainable, long-term development

Aiming to not only reinvigorate the neighbourhood, but to also decarbonise it, the 150,000 square-metre solar farm will be composed of hundreds of unique ‘energy trees’ that open and close their panels throughout the day, harvesting energy whilst also providing shade for visitors.

Divided into three distinct areas – the City, the Boulevard, and the Park – the masterplan is laid out from west to east, taking visitors on an explorative journey which transitions from an urban environment to a more natural landscape. 

“The Boulevard, the central pedestrian axis, is a pathway through all of the national pavilions. Finally, the Park in the east is covered with lush vegetation and accentuated by thematic buildings, including Pale Blue Dot, a pavilion dedicated to disseminating knowledge about the natural world.”

Located in the east, the Park district will be covered in lush vegetation

The intention is for the all the event pavilions to be used for different functions after the event, continuing Expo 2030 Roma’s commitment to help neighbourhood revitalisation. “The City in the west functions as the Expo Village, and will become an extension of the University of Tor Vergata’s campus after the event,” explains Carlo Ratti. 

The revitalisation efforts are further exemplified in the repurposing of a large sports complex by Santiago Calatrava. “Abandoned for 15 years, the structure, locally known as “Le Vele”, is to become one of the flagship pavilions of Expo 2030 Roma, hosting public events and showcasing the transformation of Tor Vergata.”

“Next to it, the main entrance of the exhibition site serves as the primary access point with a set of new transportation and mobility connections. Among them, a long green corridor links Expo 2030 Roma to the adjacent archeological sites on the Appian Way and Rome’s other historical buildings and monuments,” Carlo Ratti adds.

Neighbourhood revitalisation is exemplified through the bid to repurpose the Vela sports complex by Santiago Calatrava

Visuals are by Carlo Ratti Associati for Expo 2030 Roma.

The theme for the World Expo 2030 is named ‘People and Territories, Together: Urban Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation’.

Along with Italy (Rome), three other countries have submitted proposals, including the Republic of Korea (Busan), Ukraine (Odesa), and Saudi Arabia (Riyadh). The host country will be decided by members of Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) organisation in November 2023.

Take a look at other innovative architectural projects by Carlo Ratti Associati.

Read more of the latest sustainability news, including Enki’s Eco Edit of all the latest news, product launches, and things to see and do.


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