Project URGE and Circular Economy, technical and scientific support for the Municipality of Prato

Title URGE – ‘circUlaR buildinG citiEs

Location Prato

Duration 2019-2022

Partners Municipality of  Utrecht, Monaco, Copenhagen, Kavala, Granada, Riga, Oeste e Nigrad.

Framework Urbact – Driving change for better cities III Programme 2014 -2020+

Funding European Union – Regional Development Fund



URGE, standing for ‘circUlaR buildinG citiEs’ is an Action Planning network on circular economy in the construction sector – a major consumer of raw materials. As there is a gap in circular economy principles’ implementation in this sector, URGE brings together nine cities and their stakeholders to inspire and learn from each other in developing their integrated urban policy. This supports integration of circularity in the construction tasks, thus contributing to sustainable cities.

For over 15 years, the URBACT programme has been the European Territorial Cooperation programme aiming to foster sustainable integrated urban development in cities across Europe. It is an instrument of the Cohesion Policy, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the 28 Member States, Norway & Switzerland.

URBACT’s mission is to enable cities to work together and develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges, by networking, learning from one another’s experiences, drawing lessons and identifying good practices to improve urban policies.

The URBACT III programme is organised around four main objectives:

  • Capacity for Policy Delivery: to improve the capacity of cities to manage sustainable urban policies and practices in an integrated and participative way.
  • Policy Design: to improve the design of sustainable urban policies and practices in cities.
  • Policy Implementation: to improve the implementation of integrated and sustainable urban strategies and actions in cities.
  • Building and Sharing Knowledge: to ensure that practitioners and decision-makers at all levels have access to knowledge and share know-how on all aspects of sustainable urban development in order to improve urban development policies.


General Objective

Thanks to the URGE project, the Municipality of Prato will develop best practises to reduce the environmental and economic impact of the demolition of buildings, also by mapping and tracing the flow of materials.


Our contribution

ARCO provides scientific and technical support on Circular Economy to the Municipality of Prato​. Together they are working on three main projects:

“PIU’ PRATO”: an urban innovation project of more than 8 million Euros. The project aims to redevelop the so called Macrolotto 0. The project aims to regenerate the area in order to make it more attractive, socially and economically lively, thanks to a series of actions that aim to give value to public space. All these actions are designed to recover abandoned buildings, create new green spaces, promote sustainable mobility, provide a media library and new co-working spaces. In general, the area will be a meeting place and hub of social activities, serving the neighbourhood and the city as a whole. The project includes the redevelopment of a former factory, with the creation of spaces dedicated to social and commercial activities: a metropolitan market, workshops space for a variety of training courses, a so called House of the Associations, that will host an healthcare information center dedicated to women and a hub for cultural mediators.

Prato Urban Jungle: the project aims to re-naturalise neighbourhoods, in a sustainable and socially inclusive way through the development of green areas. The idea is to implement a new approach in urban planning with a strong ocus on co-design and stakeholder engagement.

PRIUS : the project aims to re-qualify an area of 1.25 square kilometers located near the historic city center, which over the years has been subject to degradation and marginalization. The project includes the renovation of two public buildings, Palazzo Pacchiani and Bastion delle Forche, that will house part of the offices of the Municipality and the renovation of the night shelter for homeless people.

New cicle lanes and other pathways for sustainable mobility, together with new urban furninture and spaces for leisure activities, will include the area in the social fabric of the city.

Sustainable dismantling of Prato former hospital: The old hospital of Prato, “Misericordia e Dolce”, was abandoned in 2014. The hospital area included a complex network of old and new buildings. The older one date back to the 13th century and newer were added in the ’60s. The latest modification, an enlargement of 43,00 square meters destroyed a green lung of almost 4 hectares.  In 2013, the Municipality approved the project for the construction of a new hospital, which in turn created a vast area of underused buildings in the city. In 2016, the Municipality of Prato launched an international architectural competition for the redevelopment of the area. Dealing with several administrative obstacles, the site for the selective demolition of the former Misericordia e Dolce hospital was finally delivered in August 2020.
The method used to tear down buildings, technically called strip out, provides for the selective demolition or the preventive removal and safe disposal of all the materials.

Read more on our Circular Innovation & Sustainable Commodities Unit