The Mafia-built Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway in Italy is a symbol of corruption and failure, which is why OFF Architecture proposed an idea for a solar-powered community that would stand for a brighter and more sustainable future. Working in collaboration with Philippe Rizzotti, Samuel Nageotte and Ramboll UK, the architects want to convert the old viaduct into an environmentally conscious development that would provide health centers as well as residential and leisure facilities.

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OFF was faced with two very different approaches to the viaduct’s redevelopment. Either adapt the structure so that it melds with the local aesthetic of Calabria, or push for a more ambitious design that sparks ideas for the future and encourages more positive infrastructural developments. As you can see from the pictures, they opted for the second option, which is both bold and ambitious in its design.

Related: Carpark Hidden Inside a Green-Roofed Bridge Respects the Mountains in Italy

The project is of a very different nature to the highway itself, also known as A3 Autostrada, which has so far cost the country $471 million, allegedly because of corrupt contractors. It’s considered by some to be a “mafia-built highway,” and to this day is still incomplete in places. An EU anti-fraud investigation confirmed “widespread irregularities,” but the money that has to be paid back will most likely come from the pockets of Italian citizens through taxes and other government collections.

Despite the controversy, OFF Architecture aims to demonstrate with Vertical Village that the highway could be used for more inspiring purposes, instead of just laying in ruin. The Calabria region, where this particular stretch of highway is located, has one of the most stable climates in the world, along with a rich natural environment, which make it a prime location to establish conscientious, mixed-use projects that actually benefit the locals.

OFF Architecture

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Images by OFF Architecture