Submitted by UIA admin on Mon, 12/19/2016 - 10:38
Challenge addressed

The flows of refugees have constantly increased and they are not expected to get reduced. In Bologna metropolitan area asylum seekers passed from 321 to 816 in 2015. This trend requires a new systemic and structural answer that involves also the third sector and the civil society, to make integration happen effectively. To achieve this goal a major cultural change is required. Reception centres must become new centralities, able to produce culture, solidarity, economic growth and social wellbeing. Refugees need to feel part of the host community where they can activate their own unique abilities, qualities and skills, to build their self-reliance and autonomy.

Main project challenges:

 – to overcome the emergency approach in the refugees reception model and find new sustainable solutions, integrated into the social and economic framework;

– to prevent the conflicts and the perception of migrants and refugees as an economic and social burden

– to  fight the urban and social decay, caused by the economic crisis

– to foster an open intercultural society, based on the generative welfare model and solidarity, by enhancing reciprocity between refugees and citizens and knowledge contamination

 – to deal with the demographic changes: aging population, low birth rate, migration of young people.

Solution proposed

The project intends to use an integrated approach and the tools of social innovation. This experimentation is based on best practices at local level, coming from a twenty year experience, concerning the whole partnership and the methodology (increase capability rather than pursuing subsidy policies).

Villa Salus aims to become a "think tank" of this new welfare model, offering training to social workers and becoming an European reference point for generative welfare studies.

The proposed solution can be summarized as follows:

1. creating a reception centre for refugees which is also a neighborhood centre, offering a pleasant and relaxing environment, educational gardens, artistic workshops, coworking, multiethnic restaurant and accommodation facilities; the centre provides a housing social mix in order to sustain social cohesion and avoid "ghetto effect"

2. turning threat into opportunity, supporting the refugees in their autonomy process and fostering micro-entrepreneurial development;

3. reusing abandoned areas as new lively spots for developing community based projects, trough a participatory design process;

4. creating employment support and self-entrepreneurial guidance, as a unique field-training experience. The refurbishment itself is conceived as training opportunity

5. enhancing a balanced demographic structure within the city, giving the possibility to the refugees to become economic actors

  • Comune di Bologna
  • Instituto per la ricerca sociale - Research Center
  • ASP Città di Bologna - Public Agency
  • Open Group Societé Cooperative Onlus - NGO
  • ICIE Instituto Cooperativo per l'Innovazione - NGO
  • Antoniano Onlus - NGO
  • Cooperative Sociale Camelot - NGO
  • Associazione Cantieri Meticci - NGO
  • Società Dolce - NGO
  • Eta Beta Coop - Private Company
  • CIOFS FP Emilia Romagna - Training Center
  • Microfinanza SRL - Business support organisation
  • CEFAL Emilia Romagna - Training Center
  • CSAPSA - Training Center
  • ACLI Provinciali Bologna - National Agency
  • Università di Bologna - University
  • Associazione MondoDonna Onlus - NGO
Expected results

Cultural change: the integration will become a real achievement, based on exchange and collaboration between citizens and migrants, able to reduce conflicts and foster a new intercultural model of co-living and mutual support, where migration will be seen as resource and not as a threat;

Physical change: the project will bring a urban regeneration of the area, removing the risks of squatting and social decay and improving the environmental quality;

Economic change: the refurbishment will become an economic growth booster and an opportunity of field-training that will provide employment support to refugees. Villa Salus will offer entrepreneurship start-ups opportunities; an opportunity for all citizens to develop trust and self-motivation to face difficulties, overcoming individualism and competitiveness, feeling part of a larger community.

This project will create a replicable model of integrated community centers where the third sector and the citizens have an active role in supporting the reception and integration of refugees.

Main milestones

January 2017: start-up of the participative planning. Press-conference and public meeting of the district council.

March 2017: "Concept" of Villa salus: Shared lay-out and guidelines are provided to the architect in charge of the design

April-May 2017: The final design is accomplished and the project approved by the city council.

November 2017: the detailed design, that includes the structural interventions and the technological plants, is ready, and the call of tender is published.

April 2018: Beginning of the construction phase. The public selection process is ended and the contract signed by the company.

March-April 2019: End of construction phase. The building is delivered to the Municipality. Project social activities can be settled down.

September 2019: Kick-off public event. Villa Salus is opened to public. Big celebration for the opening.

"When a city welcomes, it grows in culture, richness and humanity. Europe, through UIA, is with us along this journey."


Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna
The project in numbers
Asylum seekers, currently hosted in the Metropolitan City of Bologna (at 31.10.2016)
People arrived in 2016(monthly average: 1008, weekly average: 229; males: 8407, females: 1681)
Average unemployment rate in the Metropolitan City of Bologna in 2015
+ 30%
of families who turns to social services since 2005
Contact of the project
Inti Bertocchi
Project Scientific Coordinator
Peter Ramsden
UIA expert

Project News

SALUS SPACE and innovative practices of intercultural welfare

The month of May, dedicated to many events to promote the European Union institutions, policies and programmes, ended up in Bologna with the international conference "Beyond Integration. Innovative practices of hospitality and intercultural welfare ", organised by the City of Bologna in the framework of Salus Space project.