The Network of Neighborhood Houses of Bologna



Type of experience

participatory planning


new social movements and associativism social inclusion civic responsibility


SDG 11 SDG 16

The Network of Neighborhood Houses in Bologna comprises 33 community spaces managed by civic entities, operating under collaborative space management principles as defined by Bologna's Regulation on shared administration.


Strengthening links between citizens of different ages


Citizens of Bologna, from all ages


Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy, with about 400,000 inhabitants and 150 different nationalities. Its metropolitan area is home to more than 1,000,000 people.



The Network of Neighborhood Houses consists of 33 community spaces spread across Bologna, managed by civic entities such as associations and third-sector organizations. These public places operate under the principles of collaborative space management. To foster the development and strengthening of this Network, the Municipality of Bologna, in collaboration with local Neighborhoods and the Foundation for Urban Innovation, initiated a supportive process in 2022. This effort builds on the transformation of elderly social centers into Neighborhood Houses that began in 2019.



In the initial phase, a comprehensive mapping of the Neighborhood Houses, their services, and their community relationships was conducted to identify appropriate support actions. A collective workshop was also held to reinforce the community of Neighborhood Houses and to begin creating a unified system of values and identity. To establish a visual identity for the Network, a public call for graphic design proposals was issued. Throughout 2023, efforts continued to integrate new services, strengthen governance, refine individual Houses’ values, and enhance relationships with local civic networks and associations.


The Manifesto of the Neighborhood Houses of Bologna was developed, reflecting the shared values of all Houses and strengthening their collective identity and territorial presence.


Each Neighborhood House serves as a hub of possibilities, open to diverse social interactions and the experimentation of new proximity services. Together, they form a civic infrastructure that supports citizen initiatives and participation, fostering intergenerational and intercultural exchanges to enhance social cohesion. The Network now represents a unified system that bolsters the role of Neighborhood Houses as community centers, addressing new social and proximity needs while preserving and innovating the cultural heritage of senior citizens' social centers. Moving forward, with the help of dedicated funding, the Neighborhood Houses will also serve as experimental sites for innovative solutions aimed at achieving climate neutrality for the city.



The Network's governance harnesses the strengths and uniqueness of each House to execute common projects through a multilevel, shared governance structure. This structure includes six Territorial Coordinations, one for each Neighborhood, comprising the Neighborhood President, the Network Office, presidents of the Neighborhood Houses, and a Proximity Agent from the Foundation for Urban Innovation.


This is further supported by the City Coordination, which ensures unified governance and promotes maximum collaboration between various municipal sectors and external organizations. The City Coordination is led by the Delegate for the Neighborhood Houses project and includes the current president of the Conference of Neighborhood Presidents, six spokespersons (one from each Territorial Coordination), representatives from the Municipality’s Neighborhood Area, and a representative from the Foundation for Urban Innovation.



Sources of information (in Italian):