OrtiAlti as urban regeneration devices: An action-research study on rooftop farming in Turin

Emanuela Saporito


This paper discusses the role rooftop food gardens can play as urban regeneration devices, by combining environmental and social benefits and leveraging food production as a mediating function. In particular, this study focuses on the case of OrtiAlti, an action-research project based in Turin, set up to revitalize abandoned or under-utilized urban buildings through rooftop community gardens. The research is aimed at understanding the extent to which rooftop farming can contribute to urban regeneration processes if framed as a social innovation practice of place-making and urban resilience. OrtiAlti is indeed a metaphor, a way to demystify the old categories of spatial planning. It represents a new ontology that redefines the conflicting relationship between public and private sectors in the use of resources, such as land, that recognizes certain categories of urban spaces and activities as multi-dimensional, and that includes new economic and social actors as subjects able to produce values of collective interest for the community.

Key words: Rooftop farming, Urban regeneration, social innovation, participation

Data of the article

First received : 4 January 2017| Last revision received : 14 April 2017
Accepted : 6 June 2017 | Published online : 20 June 2017
URN: nbn:de:hebis: 34-2017051252532

Full Text:



Ackerman, K. (2011). The potential for urban agriculture in NewYorkCity: Growing capacity, food security, and green infrastructure. New York, NY: Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Ackerman, K., Conrad, M., Culligan, P., Plunz, R., Sutto, M., & Whittinghill, L. (2014). Sustainable food systems for future cities: The potential of urban agriculture. The Economic and Social Review, (45)2, 189–206.

Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1978). Organizational Learning: A theory of action perspective. Reading: Addison-Wesley.

Aubry, C., Ramamonjisoa, J., Dabat, M. H., Rakotoarisoa, J., Rakotondraibe, J. & L. Rabeharisoa (2008). L’agriculture à Antananarivo (Madagascar): Une approche interdisciplinaire. Natures, Sciences, Sociétés, 16(29): 3-35.

Balducci, A. (2012). Planning as the re-organization of hopes. Disp, The Planning Review, 48(4), 4-5.

Bianchetti, C. (2015). Crumbling territories: Rules, rights and values. In C. Bianchetti, E. C. Lanza, A. E. Kercuku, A. Sampieri, A. Voghera (Eds.), Territories in Crisis: Architecture and Urbanism Facing Changes in Europe. Berlin: Jovis.

Bohn, K. & Viljoen, A. (2013). Urban agriculture: Designing the productive city. In CITIES trancity*valiz (Ed.), Farming the city: Food as a tool for today’s urbanism (pp. 45-49). Amsterdam: Trancity valiz.

Ciaffi D., & Saporito, E. (2017). Shared administration of smart cities. In Riva Sanseverino, E. Riva Sanseverino, R., Vaccaro, V. (Eds.), Smart cities atlas: Western and Eastern intelligent communities. Cham: Springer Tracts in Civil Engineering,

Ciaffi, D., De Filippi, F., Saporito, E., & Marra, G. (Eds.) (2016). Cibo, cittadini e spazi urbani. Verso un’amministrazione condivisa dell’Urban Food Policy di Torino. Roma: Labsus.

Commission of the European Communities. (2007). Adapting to climate change in Europe –options for EU action (Green Paper COM/2007/0354). Retrieved from http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:52007DC0354

Davoudi, S. & Porter, L. (2012). Applying the resilience perspective to planning: Critical thoughts from theory to practice. Planning Theory and Practice, 13(2), 299-333.

De Filippi, F. (2016). La campagna va in città. L’agricoltura come opportunità di rigenerazione urbana. In D. Ciaffi, F. De Filippi, E. Saporito, & G. Marra (Eds.), Cibo, cittadini e spazi urbani. Verso un’amministrazione condivisa dell’Urban Food Policy di Torino. Roma: Labsus.

Delor, M. (2011). Current state of building-integrated agriculture, its energy benefits and comparison with green roofs. Sheffield: University of Sheffield.

Despommier, D. (2011). Vertical farming: Feeding the world in the 21st century. New York, NY: Picador.

Dubbeling M. (2014). Urban agriculture as a climate change and a disaster risk reduction strategy. UA Magazine, 27(March), 1-56.

Dunnett N. & Kingsbury N. (2004). Planting green roofs and living walls. Sheffield: Timber Press.

Durhman, A., Rowe, D.B., Ebert-May, D., & Rugh, C. L. (2004, June). Evaluation of species on extensive green roofs. Paper presented at the Second Annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards and Trade Show, Portland, Oregon.

Grard, B. J. P.,Bel, N., Marchal, N., Madre, F., Castell, J. F., Cambier, P., Houot, S., Manouchehri, N., Besancon, S., Michel, J. C., Chenu, C., Frascaria-Lacoste, N., Aubry, C. (2015). Recycling urban waste as possible use for rooftop vegetable garden. Future of Food: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Society, 3(1), 21-34.

European Commission. (2013). Building a Green Infrastructure for Europe. Belgium: European Union.

Houghton, K., Choi, J. Z., Lugmayr, A. (2015). Urban acupuncture. Journal of Urban Technology 22(3), 1-2.

Hui, S. C. M. (2011, March). Green roof urban farming for buildings in high-density urban cities. Paper presented at World green roof conference, Hainan, China.

Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale. (2009). L’adattamento ai cambiamenti climatici: strategie e piani in Europa (Rapporti 94/2009).

Lanzara, G. (1993). Capacità Negativa. Capacità progettuale e modelli d’intervento nelle organizzazioni. Bologna: Ed.il Mulino.

Lerner J. (2014). Urban Acupuncture. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Lyson T. A. (2004). Civic agriculture: Reconnecting farm, food and community. Medford, MA: Tufts University Press.

Lovell, S. T. (2010). Multifunctional urban agriculture for sustainable land use planning in the United States. Sustainability, 2(8), 2499-2522.

Mela, A. (2016). Città: centro di governo del territorio. In D. Ciaffi, F. De Filippi, E. Saporito, & G. Marra (Eds.), Cibo, cittadini e spazi urbani. Verso un’amministrazione condivisa dell’Urban Food Policy di Torino. Roma: Labsus.

Mess, C. & Stone, E. (2012). Zoned out: The potential of urban agriculture planning to turn against its roots. Cities and the Environment, 5(1).

Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J., Mulgan, G. (2010). The open book of social innovation. The Young Foundation.

Oberndorfer, E., Lundholm, J., Bass, B., Coffman, R., Doshi, H. (2007). Green Roofs as Urban ecosystems: Ecological structures, functions, and services. BioScience 57(10), 823-833.

Orsini, F., Gasperi, D., Marchetti,L., Piovene, C., Draghetti, S., Ramazzotti, S., Bazzocchi,G. ., and Gianquinto,G (2014). Exploring the production capacity of rooftop gardens (RTGs) in urban agriculture: The potential impact on food and nutrition security, biodiversity and other ecosystem services in the city of Bologna. Food Security Journal, 6(6), 781-792.

Pasqui, G. (2014). Prefazione. In Inti, I., Cantaluppi, G., & Persichino, M. (Eds.), Temporiuso. Manuale per il riuso temporaneo di spazi in abbandono, in Italia. Milan: AltraEconomia Edizioni.

Phills, J. A. Deiglmeier, K., & Miller, D. T. (2008). Rediscovering Social Innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 6(4), 34-43.

Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Science, 4, 155-169.

Robiglio, M. (2015). The unexpected ingredient of urban adaptive reuse. Washington DC: The German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Rockefeller Foundation. (2009). Building climate change resilience (White Paper). Retrieved from https://www.acccrn.net/sites/default/files/publication/attach/10_RF_WhitePaper_Resilience.pdf.

Saporito, E. (2016). Consensus building versus irreconcilable conflicts: Reframing participatory planning. Springer Briefs in Applied Science and Technology.

Sanyé-Mengual, E. (2015). Sustainability assessment of urban rooftop farming using an interdisciplinary approach (Doctoral Thesis). Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Saporito, E. (2015, April 21). Vuoti a Rendere. Labsus. Retrieved from http://www.labsus.org/2015/04/vuoti-a-rendere-edifici-abbandonati/

Specht, K., Siebert, R., Hartmann, I., Freisinger, U. B., Sawicka, M., Werner, A., & Dierich, A. (2014). Urban agriculture of the future: An overview of sustainability aspects of food production in and on buildings. Agriculture and Human Values, 31(1), 33-51.

Secchi, B. (2013). La città dei ricchi e la città dei poveri. Milan: Laterza.

Santo, R., Palmer, A., & Kim, B. (2016). Vacant Lots to Vibrant Plots: A review of the benefits and limitations of urban agriculture. Center for a Livable Future, John Hopkins University.

Theodosious, T. G. (2003). Summer period analysis of the performance of a planted roof as a passive cooling technique. Energy and Buildings, 35(9), 909–917.

Thomaier, S. Specht, K. Henckel, D., Dierich, A., Siebert, R., Freisinger, U. B., & Sawicka, Magdalena. (2015). Farming in and on urban buildings: Present practice and specific novelties of Zero-Acreage Farming (ZFarming). Renewable Agriculture Food Systems, 30(1), 43–54.

Tornaghi, C. (2014). Critical Geography of Urban Agriculture. Progress in Human Geography, 38(4), 551–567.

Weber, C. L. & Matthews, H. C. (2008). Food Miles and the Relevant Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States. Environmental Science Technology, 42(10), 3508–3513.

Whatley, E., Fortune, T., & Williams, A. E. (2015). Enabling occupational participation and social inclusion for people recovering from mental ill-health through community gardening. Aust Occup Ther J., 62(6).

World Bank. (2010). Cities and climate change: An urgent agenda. In Urban Development Series Knowledge Papers. Retrieved from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTUWM/Resources/340232-1205330656272/CitiesandClimateChange.pdf

UN Habitat. (2016). Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures. World City Report. Retrieved from http://wcr.unhabitat.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2016/05/WCR-%20Full-Report-2016.pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Comments on this article

View all comments



 Google Scholar H5 index 3 

Sponsoring Organisations

Logo Agrarekologie Uni Kassel