Former paper works becomes art centre CityLab 971


First abandoned, then home for displaced Roma.

The abandoned former paper factory on Rome’s Via Salaria, for many years a temporary home for gypsies expelled from their camps in the city, is being turned into an artistic and events centre.

Now the company Urban Value, which has already carried out five other renewal projects such as those in Via Guido Reni, Piazza Bainsizza and Piazza Ragusa, has applied its experience to Via Salaria 971.

After some 40 months of reconstruction work, CityLab 971 is about to become a versatile and innovative cultural and social centre, cosmopolitan, dynamic and multilingual, says Urban Value CEO Simone Mazzarelli.

Three projects have already signed up, and more are in the pipeline. Orto 2.0 is preparing a vegetable plot where customers can pick their own produce on the spot – very much “kilometre zero”. Agorà is the monumental artistic installation by artists Kill the Pig and Emmeu, well known on the international abstract art circuit. TAM, an “experience museum” combining art with new technologies, the LABS ateliers for artists in residence, and the Sharing Space combining the functions of academy and gallery are all ready for opening.

There will also be a literary café in the bookshop Ithaca, while the factory’s courtyards will host further exhibits and initiatives, launched on 15 June by a free open-air concert by popular indie-rock band Lo Stato Sociale.

“City hall has once again managed to save abandoned spaces with a project for urban renewal,” stated the mayor Virginia Raggi. “This will be a workshop to bring a part of the city, once a symbol of decline, back to life,” she told media.

The 20,000 sqm former paper works, close to the Motorizzazione vehicle registration centre, was owned by the State Mint. Negotiations are under way for the city to buy the property. When it closed, the factory was designated in 2009 as a temporary home for 348 travellers, including 180 children, expelled from their former camps, first in Via Casilino and later from others.

But conditions were grim, with few windows and no running water. It is also adjacent to the infamous TMB waste treatment plant, whose noxious fumes enraged desperate residents nearby until it burned out last December. Raggi has promised it will remain closed. Finally in 2016 another solution was found for the travellers, and the site remained empty and a prey for vandals until this new initiative took root.

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Address Via Salaria, 971, 00138 Roma RM, Italy

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Former paper works becomes art centre CityLab 971

Via Salaria, 971, 00138 Roma RM, Italy