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massimo iosa ghini: energy belt, bologna, italy
nov 02, 2009
massimo iosa ghini: energy belt, bologna, italy


the energy belt is a modern interpretation of the forms and archetypes of rural architecture in the plains

energy belt by iosa ghini associati is a people mover designed for the city of bologna, italy,
establishing a link between the city and its countryside. the piece of infrastructure which totals
5084 metres in length, is composed of a monorail with two terminals – one at the airport
and one at the main train station – with an intermediate stop at lazzaretto which creates an
overpass on the motorway. the stops are connected to each other via a route with a walkway
running along the track, serving as a passenger escape route in case of emergency.

the environmentally friendly energy belt is outfitted with photovoltaic panels on the
southwest side, maximizing energy performance, while the north glazed panels serve as
balustrades to give the entire line a sense of transparency and lightness. the perforated steel
envelope makes it possible to perceive and glimpse the support structure which is composed of
custom-made metal ribs, which gives the typically solid material a sense of lightness.
vegetation can be anchored into the micro-perforated structure, creating vertical gardens along
the walls enclosing the stations, providing natural insulation, protecting against the elements
and filtering airborne pollutants. the integration of plants lays the groundwork for well-being
inside the stations. surfaces do not become overheated and micro climate is improved,
cooling the interior in the summer and retaining heat in the winter. deciduous plants offer shade
in the summer, but let sunshine in during the winter, creating a natural windbreak to help
conserve heat.

the sloping roofs of the stations are designed to accommodate photovoltaic panels,
especially at the lazzaretto station. the surface of the perforated steel is connected to the structure,
making it possible to house the photovoltaic systems without disturbing the architecture
of the surrounding landscape and allowing them to work as energy generators.


the perforated steel gives way for plants to grow into the infrastructure

each station has been sized with the potential of doubling the line in the future.
the route connecting the station is underscored by a series of piers that support all the tracks
and the individual stops. piers mark a route which blends into the landscape between
the train station and airport. for the different heights and sizes of the piers, the architectural
section is uniform up to a height of 7 metres, at which point it widens and incorporates
the pedestrian walkway. in other areas, there are piers with heights of up to 25 metres –
the structure widening like a slender tree trunk, rooted in the ground, giving the entire
route a more lightweight appearance.


the bridge over the ring-road / motorway overpass

ring-road / motorway overpass is dubbed ‘the link’. its structural elements rely on natural
and simple forms, creating an architecture which marks the entrance into the city of bologna.
the design of the bridge addresses a combination of technical and perceptual-visual requirements.
one of the problems is its height difference in respect to the rest of the route which uses a monorail,
as the 100-metre-long bridge has two beams so that the line can be doubled in the future.
on a visual level, the bridge will serve as an architectural element and point of reference for the
traveller as part of the motorway landscape, conveying the idea of motion. the two problems are
solved by designing two portals whose form and fluid size conceal the height differences
and serve as the connection point for the monorail and a double-track bridge. these two pieces
of infrastructure, distinguish one’s arrival in bologna, just as the city gates mark the entrances
to the medieval centre.

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