Helix Event in Castlelfranco Veneto: Exploring Sustainable Urban Solutions

June 2024

On 6th and 7th June 2024, our Pilot site in Castelfranco Veneto, the Villa Revedin Bolasco and its garden, played host to the Helix event, “Unlocking the Power of Nature-Based Innovation,” organized by VARCITIES partners CrowdHelix and the Municipality of Castelfranco Veneto, with the support if E2ARC, Inlecom Commercial Pathways, Darttek, IES and University of Padova.

The event gathered experts, officials, and innovators to explore and discuss the transformative potential of nature-based solutions (NbS) for urban health and wellbeing.

The event kicked off with a warm welcome from Gianfranco Giovine, Councillor for Tourism, University Relations, Research, and Innovation, alongside Stefano Marcon, Mayor of Castelfranco Veneto. Our Pilot city highlighted the collaborative efforts with the University of Padova Unismart and EURAC to deliver VARCITIES’ Italian pilot. They announced an upcoming innovation and research event in October, “Vision Garden” to showcase projects, technologies and innovation – including VARCITIES – with the support of Universities and SMEs. Francesco Pirotti from the University of Padova emphasized the importance of practical applications of scientific research in maintaining the 500-year-old historical villa and gardens for public and scientific use.

They first day was dedicated to presentation and discussions around VARCITIES’ approach, its supported interventions and its exploitable results.

Denia Kolokotsa, VARCITIES coordinator from the Technical University of Crete introduced the project’s goals of enhancing urban health and wellbeing across Europe using nature-based solutions. She outlined the different phases of VARCITIES, from co-creation to implementation, and highlighted the involvement of seven pilot cities.

Eleni Goni of E2ARC presented the implementation of the 28 Visionary Solutions (VS) supported by VARCITIES in the seven pilot cities and the ongoing assessment of their replication potential. Francesco Pirotti specifically detailed Castelfranco’s VS and their innovative components, such as mapping comfort through a digital twin of the park and real-time data collection from environmental sensors.

Koldo Urrutia Azcona from IES Integrated Environmental Solutions showcased VARCITIES Health & Well-Being Platform, our digital twin platform, which provides a 3D immersive experience incorporating NbS and urban context. Neil Baldacchino of Darttek introduced the GoNature AR, an augmented reality experience to visualize air quality and noise data interactively.

INLECOM then moderated a session on the marketability of NbS. Moein Nodehi of Biotonomy discussed nature-based solutions for urban planning and design, while Antonio Carbone of DayOne highlighted the journey from research to market. Marina Trentin of Ambiente Italia and Marco Berni of Start Park emphasized the role of public authorities and co-designing urban green spaces for resilience and climate change adaptation. Francesca Framba from the Metropolitan City of Milan presented the Sponge City project, which addresses water runoff and heat islands through NbS, showcasing successful implementations and future plans.

The second day notably featured a panel discussion moderated by Nicola Scomparin from the Municipality of Castelfranco Veneto on urban health and NbS applications.

Luca Pozzobon from Castelfranco Veneto explained the importance of the Observatory of landscape in order to supervise the territory and promote its importance to the citizens. Maurizio Trento from the Personal Service Center “Domenico Sartor” underlined the importance of the sensory garden for the city aggregation and wellbeing of Castelfranco Veneto’s citizens, particularly for the people affected by Alzheimer’s. Tiziana Menegon from Local Health Unit n. 2 “Marca Trevigiana” introduced the Urban Health approach, essential for promoting health in the urban environments. Francesca Framba from the Metropolitan City of Milan illustrated the process of analyzing the needs of the metropolitan area thanks to European projects. Luca Lazzarini from Politecnico Milano, emphasized the need for multidisciplinary approaches, collaboration between universities and administrations, and the integration of ecological and psychological perspectives in urban health models.

The event concluded with a call for co-creation at multiple levels – urban, environmental, social, and administrative. Participants stressed the importance of overcoming bureaucratic obstacles to translate research into practice and disseminate good practices for broader use.

The session ended with a wrap-up by Valeria Pulieri of Crowdhelix, who presented the Healthy Cities Helix community, hosted on the Crowdhelix platform, where all stakeholders interested in the topics of nature-based solutions and citizen wellbeing can continue to discuss and collaborate to create further implementation opportunities based on the results of the project.

It’s possible to join the Healthy Cities Helix community following this link: https://crowdhelix.com/helixes/healthy-cities/info

Key Takeaways from the discussions:

  • Nature-based solutions are pertinent interventions for urban health and wellbeing.
  • Successful collaboration between municipalities, universities, and private partners.
  • Importance of integrating innovative solutions into administrative processes.
  • Recognition of VARCITIES’ impact and future potential.

Our event in Castelfranco Veneto marked a significant step forward in leveraging our results related to nature-based innovation to create healthier, more resilient urban environments beyond our seven pilots!