So this is maybe old news, but it's such a big deal, we just had to remind you - a couple of years ago in Italy the Solar Park South Design Competition took place. An international competition like no other with the aim "to stimulate revolutionary proposals for the reuse of the soon to be decommissioned highway."

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They were supposed to spend approximately 40 Million Euros to demolish the decommissioned portions of the old highway along with its concrete viaducts, dispose of the debris and restore the existing landscape. However, they recognized the potential in "reusing and redeveloping of certain by-passed sections as a means of boosting the production of renewable energy; experimenting with new eco-friendly technologies; favouring connections between villages and access to the valuable crops on mountain crests; and, finally, developing new forms of environmental and land art capable of stimulating responsible tourism."

In 2010 the Town Planning and Territorial Governance Department of Italy announced the first "Zero Emission" international, unique environmental challenge, the Solar Park South Online Design competition with aim to come up with an alternate use for those fabulous concrete bridges built back in the sixties by some of the world's most renowned architects. 

Participants - may it be architects, landscape architects, engineers, designers, artists, scientists, researchers and students - from all over the world were requested to provide "economically, energetically and culturally sustainable projects and innovative ideas for the reuse of an imposing 10-km highway stretch, between the municipalities of Scilla and Bagnara, soon to be decommissioned". 

The winner of this 'solar highway'-themed project was announced in 2011 was the PR+OFF from France, describing their vertical village project as follows: "The bridges allow a limited impact on the landscape. The local culture of bergamotte demonstrates the region's perfectly tempered weather (8°-30°C), and the volcanic area reveals a high energy potential. The climate and the site inspire vertical villages for the european snowbirds (housing/medical equipment/entertainment/shops) that are connected by walkways to the sea and highways to the cities. The system is autonomous regarding the main resources water and energy thanks to the rainwater and the geothermal power. This contemporary archeology (the bridge over the bridge) results in a process where urban falls meet the climbing nature. The combination between the infrastructure and the environment is efficient enough to establish a new responsible high quality way of living."

A project all countries could be inspired by to act the same, when a grandiose structure is to be taken down at sky-high costs, but could be repurpused to become something else entirely.

July 19, 2015 Living photo: Solar Wind/Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino, Luisa Saracino

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