Skip to main content

Ortadini: gardener citizens in Matera

Award category
Regaining a sense of belonging
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
Ortadini: gardener citizens in Matera
Full project title
Noi Ortadini: citizens taking care of urban green spaces by gardening in marginal neighborhoods

Collectively taking care of urban green areas benefits citizens not only with more livable, beautiful and 're-greened' cities, it also encourages a sustainable lifestyle and makes happier communities, encouranging sense of belonging and participation. Noi Ortadini have been witnessing this for 1 year and a half, by restoring the urban biodiversity of a neighborhood in Matera, with circular economy practices and social inclusion at the intergenerational, multicultural and many other levels.

What was the geographical scope of your project?
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
It addresses urban-rural linkages
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to other types of transformations ('soft investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
Social media
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

Our project is to regenerate an abandoned green area in a neighbourhood of Matera called Serra Venerdì.

We intend regeneration as both environmental and social, as the dwellers of Serra Venerdì have always been considered as villains and often marginalized by other richer and 'more cultured' citizens of Matera. Therefore with our project, we want to create a redemption opportunity for this neighbourhood, by valuing and highlighting its specificities, such as

  1. wide green spaces, beautiful view on a lake near Matera and on the mountains far away: a landscape value
  2. mutual aid and multigenerational contact, because of the way the houses are architecturally distributed (creating many common spaces and gardens), plus the fact that some old people have been planting some vegetables, along with children playing and young people socializing open air
  3. the lack of traffic, as no big street flanks the area

More concretely, our project is to keep carrying on with the constant work that we have been doing for one year and a half of cleaning up, planting trees and vegetables, organizing around one event per month with activities such as plogging, live music, language exchange clubs and practical do-it-yourself laboratories.

We feel that we fully share the values of the NEB:

  1. sustainability, because we encourage it by restoring urban biodiversity, encouraging a sustainable lifestyle and adopting circular economy (e.g. using waste from local beer, biologic food and wood production)
  2. aesthetics, because we aim at turning an abandoned space into one of the most beautiful in town
  3. inclusion, as we make our green area more accessible in many ways, creating sense of belonging
Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

In terms of sustainability, so far we have covered a number of sustainability aspects, starting from fostering a more sustainable lifestyle, specifically as follows:

  • during most of our events, we have hosted and encouraged open debates on daily actions that can help fight climate change, avoid pollution and live more healthily
  • the members of our association are encouraged (and encourage others too) to reach Serra Venerdì on foot or by bike
  • we designed and offered as a membership gift a calendar made from recycled paper, displaying the seasonal fruits and vegetables month by month

Moreover, we adopt circularity by using manure and compost coming from a biological Masseria (farmhouse) near Matera, plus the waste from beer production and our own compost to nourish the soil and make it fertile, naturally.

We also try to restore biodiversity by planting trees: so far we have planted 22 trees plus 1048 tree seeds with the help of expert agronomists, University Professors and a list of local cultivars provided by Public Administration, in order to reforest with high awareness.

We have the long-term view of regenerating the area where we operate with natural rhythm, step by step, seed by seed, matching the environmental awareness with responsibilization of the local dwellers like us towards caring about the environment and gaining more awareness of the geographical context where we live.

Also, our group now counts 38 members and has gathered the interest and support of the neighbourhood, including people of all ages, who not only care more about the green space now: they also want to give continuity to the project.

This sense of belonging, continuity and long-term vision is necessary to ensure the sustainability of our actions.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

One of the objectives of our actions so far has been turning the green area where we operate from an abandoned area into one of the most beautiful urban community gardens in town.

For many years it has been used to dump the waste coming from building companies, and sometimes from home livelihoods.


In the last year and a half we have been:

  • cleaning and tidying up
  • involving the neighbourhood's community and other active citizens from Matera and other Italian and European citizens in imagining and co-designing the area through participatory workshops
  • the University of Basilicata to make proposals for a project based as much as possible on the social needs emerged

Such needs also include shadowed spots, more benches, tables and social spaces for picnics, accessible paths among the trees, events and workshops related to nature and culture for all ages.

Therefore, the products and services that we want to offer thanks to New European Bauhaus are strongly based on the experience that we want those products and services to deliver: an experience of exchange, sociability, inclusion, relaxation, artistic expression, enjoyment of the landscape and natural resources.


Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

As a newly born association for social advancement, Noi Ortadini aims to promote social inclusion, engagement, participation and empowerment through a wide range of activities. Some of our stakeholders and beneficiaries are:

  • elder people
  • young people at risk of exclusion (e.g. those who committed crimes and are involved in social services) 
  • disabled people 
  • international volunteers and students
  • immigrants
  • local dwellers who have had problems with law or who are excluded due to the prejudice that affects the neighborhood Serra Venerdì

In order to benefit these groups, we are establishing a network of people and organizations who come and help in horticulture, do-it-yourself workshops and participatory planning laboratories. Among the various activities, we have developed a calendar of learning activities, in which each member of the association can share their skills and knowledge with others. We struve to develop a community based on the principles of welcoming, hospitality and sharing.


Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

Starting from an abandoned place and a set of challenges, we have activated ourselves and a whole community in taking care of a common space. The dimensions of inclusion, sustainability and aesthetics have been integrated from the outset in our collective action. Indeed, we want to turn this place into a beautiful one, not only in terms of aesthetic objects and arrangement, but also in terms of beautiful and enriching cultural activities like poetry, music, poster art, games etc., involving as many people as possible in bringing their inspiration and ideas. We strive to involve people with fewer opportunities to give them a chance to experience an inclusive and stimulating environment. And we intend sustainability both as environmental and social, conveying the idea of co-designing a space that will be there for a long time and passing it on to future generations, fostering the well being of the present and future dwellers with the restoration of biodiversity and many other practices. We have received external confirmations that we have been able to mix these three dimensions into what they often define as "a beautiful project"!

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

Although we haven't still gathered structured and quantitative feedback, we did gather qualitative one which suggested that we are in the right track to:

  • give young people of Matera a valid reason to be proud of their city and stay here to study and work, avoiding brain drain and encouraging entrepreneurship and sense of initiative;
  • contribute to the valid reasons to come back and live in Matera, Basilicata and Southern Italy, which overall suffers from strong depopulation;
  • be a virtuous example that encourages inhabitants from Serra Venerdì to take more and more care about the neighborhood and valorize social relations in open spaces, regaining sense of belonging thanks to the good sides and collaborative cultural and social actions that we carry out
  • convey the values of sustainability and sense of belonging to nature, perceiving the ecosystem as something we do belong to
  • make us all feel part of a common vision and mission: making Matera and Serra Venerdì more sustainable and inclusive
  • inspire other similar projects in Basilicata 
Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

We have carried out 3 participatory laboratories to co-design the green space:

  1. With the local inhabitants to start imagining, co-designing and understanding our needs
  2. With the University, to launch a call for the design of a more structured urban regeneration project 
  3. With the local administration (municipality) to choose the endemic trees to plant and evaluate the feasibility of our ideas and projects

More generally, everytime an organization, person or group of people visits us, we ask them to share ideas, suggestions and opinions that can enlarge our views for the green space. 

Some of the organizations we cooperated with so far are:

  • Coalizione Civica, a collective of citizens proposing public-private-people partnerships
  • Cooperativa sociale l'abbraccio, involving young orphans
  • Basilicata Link, welcoming European volunteers
  • Tolbà, working with migrant people
  • StartApp, involving young people who committed small crimes into social actions

...and many others!


By involving both local dwellers and visitors, we generated an a exchange of ideas and good practices, other than making it be perceived as a true collective action where everyone is involved in the process.

By involving the local administration and university, we gained recognition and praise for them and established a respectful and trustworthy dialogue which paved the way to a possible partnership. 

The organizations which took part in co-designing and carrying out activities with us said that our space and project acts as a perfect 'crossroad' for organizations that want to carry out open air activities and contribute to addressing social issues.

Last but not least, members of Noi Ortadini often repeat how empowered they feel thanks to this project which is able to take the best out of our attitudes, skills, professionalities.

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

In relation with the global environmental challenges, we fight climate change by raising awareness, sensitizing and adopting game-based methods to enact practices that help avoid food waste, wrong waste management, biodiversity loss, lack of urban green social spaces. For example, we use manure and compost coming from a biological Masseria (farmhouse) near Matera, plus the waste from beer production and our own compost to nourish the soil and make it fertile, naturally; and we also try to restore biodiversity by planting endemic trees. As for the social challenges, we fight social prejudices, exclusion, inaccessibility and brain drain. In general, we contribute to create urban environments that foster the well being of local communities and make them/us more knowledgeable about important issues such as climate change and sustainable urban planning.

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

Our group was born first from action and then it was transformed into an organisation and a long-term "project". Our approach is quite grassroots: we prefer slow pace to fast growth, and we demonstrate things with facts before speaking and promoting. Plus, we are not yet another project in which a space is regenerated by expert people external to a space and neighbourhood, who often happen to have a communication gap and involvement of the local community, and who often do not go forward after the closure of the project. On the contrary, we are outside the logic of the only-project-making organisations, as we aim at giving as much continuity as possible to our actions, and this is also demonstrated by the fact that at least every Saturday (often also other days of the week) for a year and a half now we have seen each other on site to carry out activities of urban regeneration and social inclusion. We are and want to be less project-based and more action-based. Plus, we empower the local dwellers and accompany them with tools and methods, and with the desire to collaborate and continue developing this "regeneraction".

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

The potential for transferring the learning obtained through the experience has already been partly expressed through the involvement of a group of citizens of another district of the city of Matera, with whom we are undertaking a path of information and training with respect to the management of a green space and with whom we are undertaking a path with the municipal administration through which we can build a regulation that allows a shared management between civil society and public administration. This is an important point, because thanks to our action other informal groups, associations and institutions of any kind in the future will be able to participate in the management of shared common goods much more easily thanks to the existence of a regulation that precisely regulates such contracts.

The potential of our action also lies in the example that we give every day to the young people of the city of Matera who come to visit our space, telling our story and inspiring them to take action for their dreams and ideals.

In this last period we are working on the establishment of workshops that can allow anyone to make progress on some projects through the design, the creation of a strategy, and proper communication.


Is an evaluation report or any relevant documentation available?
If you would like to upload additional documentation, please upload it or write it below

The uploaded file "Tavole e Relazione" contains an analysis in italian of the specificities of the area, made by a young member of our group.

"Noi Ortadini - Story and Objectives" contains our story, month by month.

"Noi Ortadini - presentation" is a file that we used to present our group at an event about GreenComp.

By ticking this box, you declare that you are not in in one or more of the exclusion situations foreseen under Article 136 of the Financial Regulation.
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that you assume sole liability in the event of a claim relating to the activities carried out in the framework of the contest, that the proposed project has not been proposed for the New European Bauhaus Prizes 2022 in any other category or strand and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.
By submitting your application, you guarantee that you are the author or have the rights to proceed with the application and to authorise the use of the project, concept, idea, and that you have obtained any necessary consents, licenses or assignments from third parties and included copyright notices when necessary.
By submitting your application, you understand that all the applications that meet the eligibility requirements will be shared for the purposes of the selection processes, and notably published on the secured platform and for the purposes of the promotion of these on the New European Bauhaus website and/or other European Commission communication channels. In this sense, the applications would be widely available. Applicants should ensure that they present their ideas, concepts, projects, in such a way that they could be shared without giving rise to intellectual property related concerns. If your submission is selected as one of the finalists, it will additionally be shared for the purpose of the public vote that will take place. The European Union is granted a licence to use and share your application with the general public and the official external experts for the purposes of the selection process, including the voting. The European Union has the right to use the images and visual materials and the description provided in the application for communication purposes related to the contest and beyond. Rights granted comprise the right to store, reproduce, display, publish and communicate or distribute copies in electronic or digital format, including, but not only, through the internet. Unless you have disclosed your name, the European Commission has no obligation to share your name when using or disseminating your contribution to the public. The European Union cannot be held responsible in case any submitted idea, project, concept is found to infringe third parties rights. The European Union shall be neither responsible for the use that third parties may do of the applications or related content.


In order to submit your project, please make sure you have filled in all the mandatory fields marked with *, in both the “Basic information” and “Description of the project” tabs.


The country you have selected is not a Member State of the EU.

Please select the country your project was either implemented in the EU for strand A in or is being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU for strand B.