Città della Scienza

A breeding ground for a high-tech future

Built in the 1980s on brownfields at Bagnoli (Naples, Italy), the Città della Scienza is a vast crossroads of interactive and virtual knowledge. Its distinctive feature: a desire to integrate different players and resources in the same region into a shared development model. A report on a ‘city’ that is looking to the future, follows.

Interactive exhibition. Interactive exhibition.
© la Città
View of the entire Città, a multi-purpose and busy science centre located in a harbour-side industrial landscape. View of the entire Città, a multi-purpose and busy science centre located in a harbour-side industrial landscape.
© la Città

The Città della Scienza is more than a science centre. Its managers want to involve those who come to discover advances in research and technology. They want to make them aware of the key role played by the public in this development and in the choices they have to make in these areas. They also propose to bring together various players (researchers, teachers, managers and the public) to work towards the same ambition: to revitalise the regional economy using several sources of development.

Covering 12 000 square metres of a former industrial area, overlooking the bay, this showcase of Neapolitan innovation is made up of three parts: a ‘living science museum’ for education, a business technological innovation centre included in the European network of Business Innovation Centres (BIC) and an advanced multimedia training centre.

Captivating the youngest…

Thanks to an educational section, pupils can immerse themselves in science subjects in a variety of ways (mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, life sciences), but also in other fields, such as music. They take part in interactive exhibitions and in different workshops. Whether they are at nursery school or secondary school, the groups interact through a wide range of activities which reveal both the magic of science and its everyday consequences. The act of ‘participating’ is of fundamental importance here. ‘With the growing presence of multimedia and the internet in our society, it is easy to fall into a certain passivity,’ explains Luigi Amodio, Director of the Città della Scienza. ‘It is very important for children to have an active role in their scientific education.’

The ‘Theatre of Sounds’, for example, allows young children to improvise with sounds and music without using notes or codification. As for adolescents, they can try out more specialised experiments to give them a better understanding of innovative research. For example, a virtual molecular biology experiment teaches them to determine a specific DNA sequence in a bioinformatic database, and to use multimedia software to simulate the most commonly used research techniques.

The wide variety of activities at the Città demonstrates that science is everywhere... even in pizzas. Children can observe the lifecycle of their ingredients (flour, olive oil, mozzarella, tomatoes).

…to give them better guidance

Concerned about providing southern Italy with creative talents and innovative technicians, the multimedia centre provides information and training — which ranges from simple advice to an introduction to IT and software. Finally, in this dynamic Città, the Business Innovation Centre acts as a catalyst for the future.

Accommodating innovative businesses, this area covering 4 000 square metres provides them with advice and services: start-up assistance, finance, market research and marketing in the region, sustainable development, aid from the European Commission, etc. One of the BIC’s strong points is its ‘incubator’, which accommodates companies mainly involved in the information and communication technology sector and enables them to anticipate the computer infrastructures they will need by means of a stock of the latest multimedia equipment. The science centre is intended to be an accelerator for social change; the Città was recently awarded the 2006 Descartes Prize for Communication.