Project journal
Edit 23 November 2021
by DANIELA Patti, UIA Expert

PUJ - Journal 2: Prato Urban Jungle implementations

Photo: Prato Urban Jungle (c) greenApes
Photo: Prato Urban Jungle (c) greenApes

The second edition of Prato Urban Jungle (PUJ) journal describes and analyses the progress of the project in the last six months, from May 2021 to October 2021. During this period the progress of the project is in line with what was planned although the consortium has asked a year extension due to the impact of Covid-19 at the beginning of the project.

Executive Summary

The content of this second edition is based on a series of interviews that took place on October 2021 with members of the PUJ consortium, among others, the Municipality of Prato, Treedom, Legambiente Toscana and gGreenApes. From these exchanges, I would notably like to highlight in the first three sections the areas that are particularly interesting at this development stage of PUJ.  

Section 2 - “Background and context” providing a general framework in which the project is embedded.  

Section 3 - “Partnership” providing an overview of the responsibilities and activities carried out by project partners.  

Section 4 - “Updates on pilot sites” addresses the progress of the work in the directly interested three, and the additional fourth, pilot sites.  

Section 5 - “Digitalization in PUJ” highlights two digital platforms: gGreenApes and Prato Forest City. The former rewards the citizen who performs virtuous and sustainable behavior. While, the latter is the governance platform that permits the management of green areas and the creation of an urban jungle. 

Section 6 - “Raising awareness” focuses on environmental communication and education, and the connection in all its expression, leveraging on already active relationships among citizens.  

Section 7 - “Main implementation challenges” outlines the main implementation-related challenges faced by the project in the last six months.  

Section 8 - “Key learning points and next steps” launches the activities upcoming in the following months of the project.  

The subsequent journal will pay further attention to the advancements of the implementation process. Enjoy this second journey into the Prato Urban Jungle world!  

Background and Context

In 2018, the Municipality of Prato adopted a new master plan that dictates the rules of use of the territory of the entire municipality on the types of intervention on an existing building (from renovation to expansion) or on the land use (e.g. agricultural or building). Among the thematics tackled by the master plan, the environmental one finds its expression in the urban forestry strategy where the analysis of urban green benefits by Stefano Mancuso and Pnat is supported by the Forestry Action Plan by Boeri Architects.  

The analysis carried out on 29,151 public trees made it possible to estimate and evaluate their value in order to guide planning choices: buildings, road areas or waterproofed surfaces without trees are responsible for raising local temperatures. The so-called "green infrastructures" enhance energy saving, the increase in the value of buildings, the reduction of pollution, the improvement of air quality, the increase in biodiversity, the reduction of runoff phenomena and much more benefits.  

The Urban Forestry Action Plan foresees six strategies as key guidelines :

  1. River and Gore Park,
  2. Green Infrastructure Mitigation,
  3. Capillary Green,
  4. Peri-urban Agricultural Gulfs and Large Parks,
  5. Urban Demineralization
  6. Agricultural Belt Park

The plan thereby aims to increase of the wooded areas of the city, in particular in areas with a high rate of urbanization, in order to restore spaces and corridors of life, through processes of urban re-naturalization. A large wood that unites existing and newly planned parks, agricultural areas and private green spaces in a single system. A forecast of planting of 190,000 trees, approximately one for each inhabitant. An effective environmental compensation tool that finds its implementation in the regulatory body of the master plan. 

As part of this strategy, the Prato Urban Jungle (PUJ) project aims to renovate the districts of Prato in a sustainable and socially inclusive way by developing urban jungles, i.e. redesigned areas with a high density of greenery, immersed in the urban structure, which multiply the capacity natural plant to break down pollutants, restore the use of soil and space in the community and transform marginal and decaying areas into active green hubs within the city. 


Municipality of Prato 

Project management and coordination;

Political and administrative accompanying of pilot sites  

Interaction and support of the digital platforms  developed by greenApes and Treedom 


Development of the Air machine in the Macrolotto Zero site and design of the recreational park

Boeri Architects 

Design of the facades for the Estra pilot site design of the jungle at San Giusto Neighborhood


Development of the monitoring platform  


Support of the Estra pilot site and involvement of employees in virtuous behaviours 

Legambiente Toscana 

Development of two toolkits and carrying out of workshops 


Development of the app, stakeholder involvement and monitoring  


Development of the platform, stakeholder engagement and communication 

Recent Activities

I remind readers that the solutions proposed by PUJ focus on three pilot sites are: Soccorso neighborhood, Consiag – ESTRA Headquarter; San Giusto neighborhood, EPP buildings in Via Turchia; and Macrolotto Zero neighborhood, covered market. At a later stage, a fourth pilot site, to be implemented with municipal funds, was added: commercial area, Via delle Pleiadi.  

In the Soccorso neighborhood, Consiag – ESTRA Headquarter, partners, in particular ESTRA, Boeri Architects and the Municipality of Prato went through a long and difficult negotiation. Initially, according to the proposal by Boeri Architects, only a part of the building (a third) had to be modernized with nature-based solutions. However, Consiag has asked to extend the intervention to the entire building. Thus, the two main parties, Consiag and Boeri Architects reached a private agreement, which will entrust Boeri Architects to carry out the renovation of the whole building.  

In the San Giusto neighborhood, EPP buildings in Via Turchia the nature-based solutions intervention related to PUJ will be preceded by the energy efficiency of the buildings. Even though this intervention will cause a slight delay in finalizing the project, it meets the resident’s needs. In spite of everything, it is planned that the whole intervention will be completed by the end of the next year. Also in this situation there have been some changes from the project application. For instance, the Junglathon-LAB days held last September were supposed to be only the initial phase of a co-design phase, which could have lasted for the entire duration of the intervention. Even though, they have been useful to gather a better insight of the area and to better understand the needs of the residents, it has been decided that they will not continue. Instead, condominium meeting or assemblies will be organized to mediate on the conflicts or inconveniences caused by the renovation and construction works.  

In the Macrolotto Zero neighborhood the renovation of the building that will host the covered market was already completed by the end of the last year. Before starting the work and the implementation of the nature-based solution and the “air factory” related to PUJ project, the Municipality of Prato decided to run a trial period. The covered market opened up, at the end of January beginning of February, to local farmers and vendors associates at the farmers’ association “Terre di Prato”. Initially, it has been registered a significant interest in the space and it was widely frequented by the citizens of Prato, but not only, during the two opening days and during the events in the weekends. However, after summer, when the opening days and the activities restarted taking place, it has been registered less interest and fewer people were keep going there. This could be led by a high price of the products (fresh, locals and bio), and an established non-tradition of markets in Prato. Therefore, local farmers and vendors requested to end the trial in advance because it was not profitable anymore, even though, temporarily, they were not paying any rental. Soon the PUJ interventions inside the covered market will start, and the municipality would probably have to think a different governance and business model for the covered market.