Sustainable Urban Regeneration Lab Launched

In collaboration with Hines, Intesa Sanpaolo, MilanoSesto and Prelios, Bocconi SUR Lab will study the environmental, social and economic impacts of urban regeneration intervention in a global context

(MILAN) - If there is one sector that has not gone into crisis with Covid-19, it is sustainable urban regeneration. Large real estate operators have not announced any reduction in investments that promise to combine economic development and ecological transition. In Milan, the only Italian city among the global cities capable of attracting large international investments, there are already plans worth €13bln on a gross area of ​​4.3mln sqm, including urban and property transformations (source: Rapporto 2019 e 2020 sul mercato immobiliare di Milano – Scenari Immobiliari).

Bocconi University has launched the Sustainable Urban Regeneration (SUR) Lab, which aims to study, analyze and promote the development of sustainable urban regeneration, with the contribution of four partners active in the sector: Hines, Intesa Sanpaolo, MilanoSesto and Prelios.

“By sustainable urban regeneration,” explains SUR Lab Director Edoardo Croci, “we mean interventions that do not involve land consumption, ensure high standards of energy efficiency, contribute to circularity and utilize nature-based solutions. This approach makes it possible to generate individual and social value and to increase not only infrastructural capital, but also human, social and environmental capital.”

The funds for the ecological transition provided for in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan are also concentrated in cities, mainly in urban regeneration, built heritage restoration and sustainable mobility. In Europe, the recent Driving Urban Transition initiative sees urban areas as the focus of measures to combat climate change, increase resilience and redistribute functions by proximity and circularity of basic processes.

The new structure, led by Edoardo Croci, Professor of Practice at Bocconi, gathers interdisciplinary skills (economists, urban planners, geographers) and moves along the lines of research, teaching and dissemination.

The research program will follow an ambitious five-year plan, with the first year dedicated to new work and life models after the pandemic. The new reality could, in fact, strengthen some trends already in place toward an increase of green and public spaces, a reduction of travel through the sharing of residential and professional services, and collaboration between public and private sectors.

SUR Lab was born from Bocconi's consolidated research activity on urban sustainability issues, funded by the European Commission: MAtchUP: Maximizing the Upscaling and replication potential of high level urban transformation strategies, Expanding PadovaFIT! Home Solutions and URBAN GreenUP: New Strategy for Re-Naturing Cities through Nature-Based Solutions.

Teaching will be delivered via a MOOC available starting in 2022, currently under construction, and in an elective course "Economics of sustainable urban regeneration" for students in Master of Science programs.

The third aspect, dissemination, will be based on the website which, starting next year, will include an atlas, i.e. a repository of best practices of sustainable urban regeneration. This material is being collected with the help of donors active in many international markets and will include workshops and conferences on the subject.

SUR Lab represents Bocconi as a partner of the European initiative New European Bauhaus, aimed at relaunching European cities as places of cultural creation, beauty and development opportunities, in line with the principles of the European green deal.

“As Hines, we are excited about the SUR Lab project that we have promoted with Bocconi University, along with Intesa Sanpaolo, MilanoSesto and Prelios, to encourage the sharing of expertise and knowledge on urban regeneration processes, which are increasingly strategic for a sustainable future,” says Mario Abbadessa, Senior Managing Director & Country Head of Hines Italy. “Inclusion, mobility, digitization, services for individuals, wellbeing in living spaces and the workplace are all essential when thinking about urban development and the creation of new communities. SUR Lab will introduce a new paradigm of analysis, data collection and development of best practices on the redevelopment of cities sustainably and at an international level. We are proud that such an innovative initiative is starting right here in Italy, with an excellent academic partner that truly aims to nurture young talents and also train them for new professions in the real estate industry. For Hines, already contributing to redesigning the urban fabric of cities today means bringing its know-how and ESG vision into the transformation projects for our territory, as evidenced by our MilanoSesto projects and in the former San Siro Trotto area​​ in Milan.”

“A key factor in relaunching growth in the post-pandemic period is investment in sustainable infrastructures. In particular this includes interventions for the regeneration of urban and suburban areas, where more than half the world population resides, with a contribution of over 80% to the global GDP,” comments Carlo Messina, Managing Director and CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo. “We must seize the extraordinary opportunity that is presenting itself to us today due to the unique features of our country and invest in projects aimed at improving the quality of life in our cities and enhancing mobility, thus shortening physical and therefore social distances. To affirm our capabilities and excellence, we need an investment platform for sustainable infrastructure and urban regeneration where we can capitalize on partnerships and experiences, based on strategic projects carried out in our country in recent years. Intesa Sanpaolo has become an international point of reference, thanks to sustainable infrastructure funding placed at the service of the country's growth and the MilanoSesto project is an example of this.”

“As Prelios, we have decided to support SUR Lab together with outstanding partners including Hines, Intesa Sanpaolo and MilanoSesto. It is a real laboratory of cutting-edge ideas, capable of intercepting the evolutions of the real estate market that are converging toward one main value axis: ESG criteria,” says Fabrizio Palenzona, President of the Prelios Group. “For both investors and professionals in the sector and end users of the ‘real estate product,’ these are aspects that now guide all activities and characterize their interventions. They are a determining factor for the success of any real estate project, whether new or regeneration, as is the case with MilanoSesto. For us at Prelios it is also extremely stimulating and strategic to be able to dialogue with the new generations of Bocconi students, not only with a view to bringing on board talents, but to share their vision, perspectives and ideas, both as users and also as future creators of the cities of tomorrow.”

“Along with Hines, Prelios and Intesa Sanpaolo, we are carrying out one of the most important urban regeneration interventions in Europe,” says Giuseppe Bonomi, CEO of MilanoSesto SpA. “An area of almost 1.5mln sqm which, until a quarter of a century ago, housed the main production plant of the Falck steelworks in Sesto San Giovanni. Incidentally, this is the largest land reclamation in Europe carried out entirely by private companies. In terms of territorial dimensions, investment volume and quality of the subjects involved, this is clearly one of the most extraordinary opportunities at an international level to work ‘in the field’ to concretely implement the transition toward environmental and social sustainability in the field of urban regeneration. The partnership with Bocconi for SUR Lab is one of the tools for fully seizing this opportunity.”

About Hines

Hines is a privately owned global real estate investment firm founded in 1957 with a presence in 255 cities in 27 countries. Hines oversees investment assets under management totaling approximately $83.6 billion¹. In addition, Hines provides third-party property-level services to more than 367 properties totaling 138.3 million square feet. Historically, Hines has developed, redeveloped or acquired approximately 1,486 properties, totaling over 492 million square feet. The firm currently has more than 171 developments underway around the world. With extensive experience in investments across the risk spectrum and all property types, and a foundational commitment to ESG, Hines is one of the largest and most-respected real estate organizations in the world. Visit for more information. ¹Includes both the global Hines organization as well as RIA AUM as of June 30, 2021.