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The InnoRenew CoE successfully implementing new research and infrastructure projects in Izola

Work at the InnoRenew CoE has recently been marked by activities related to the construction of two new buildings that will be located in Izola, more precisely, in Livade. The two buildings will be both a new home for the InnoRenew CoE employees and an important acquisition for the local environment and the state. In addition, the InnoRenew CoE and partners acquired nearly 4 million euros of new European funds to establish a program of active aging in Dom upokojencev Izola – Casa del pensionato Isola, a retirement home in Izola.

The InnoRenew CoE is a research institute established in 2016 as the main objective and result of a successfully obtained Horizon 2020 Teaming project, which is part of the European Union’s Framework Programme fo Research and Innovation. In accordance with provisions of this program, the InnoRenew CoE is an academic and business independent institution.

The Republic of Slovenia and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport have committed to co-finance and support implementation of the research institute buildings. The new buildings will be placed where the University of Primorska campus was originally planned.

InnoRenew CoE’s new building. Image: InnoRenew CoE

The InnoRenew CoE began to prepare the project for construction of its buildings, adapted to the Municipality of Izola spatial plan, in 2017, when, at the suggestion of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and with the decision of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, the University of Primorska waived building rights on one part of the land in Livade.

In February 2018, the InnoRenew CoE signed a tripartite contract with the Municipality of Izola and the University of Primorska regarding the transfer of building rights on one part of the land in Livade. In September 2018, the institute received the building permit. Currently, they are in the process of selecting the contractor for construction.

The InnoRenew CoE is getting ready and preparing all necessary details in order to start construction of the research infrastructure. The plan foresees two buildings: one for cabinets, offices and laboratories and one for a composites manufacturing laboratory.

Image: InnoRenew CoE

Image: InnoRenew CoE

Eva Prelovšek Niemelä, the architect of this important InnoRenew CoE infrastructure project, confirms that the buildings were planned as an interdisciplinary project for the InnoRenew CoE researchers to develop innovative building design and technology and host and demonstrate state-of-the-art science. Planning of the buildings is in line with findings about the influence of the built environment on human health, which is also one of the key research topics at the InnoRenew CoE.

“In the past, there were several attempts to design buildings that would prevent diseases or help to cure them,” says Eva Prelovšek Niemelä. “Recent scientific evidence is beginning to show how materials, buildings and their design can be used to protect and enhance the health and well-being of occupants. Therefore, it is the right time to bring these discoveries into architecture to test them and to set completely new goals for architectural planning of the future.”

Image: InnoRenew CoE

Image: InnoRenew CoE

The new buildings also address one of the biggest challenges of our time – climate change. By reducing car traffic, developing new materials from renewable resources, testing their use in practice, reducing waste and planning and popularizing healthy environments with reduced toxic emissions, the InnoRenew CoE buildings can contribute to lowering CO2 emissions in the air.

Aarne Niemelä, architect at the InnoRenew CoE, is sure that the InnoRenew CoE will also contribute to this reduction with the planned open park containing Mediterranean plants, which will make an attractive space for pedestrians.

“We hope that with this small-scale urban intervention we can make at least a small contribution to reduce car traffic and motivate people to arrive on foot or by bike,” says Aarne Niemelä.

With the park, the new construction will simultaneously connect with the local environment and enrich it. Furthermore, its impact will be even wider as the modern scientific institute will be the first building in Slovenia designed under the principles of REED – restorative environmental and ergonomic design. Its laboratories and research equipment will strengthen international recognition of both the InnoRenew CoE and Slovenia, and it will attract experts from around the world. Bringing experts to Slovenia is one of the institute’s goals. In just two years, the InnoRenew CoE has attracted 48 employees, more than half of whom come from abroad.

Image: InnoRenew CoE

In addition to preparing everything for construction, the InnoRenew CoE employees are also creating new projects that will contribute to sustainable development of the environment in the Municipality of Izola as well as Slovenia, Europe and the world.
The institute’s interdisciplinary team of designers and researchers is following the scientific principles of innovative architecture while planning sustainable structures and exterior arrangements for the new buildings. With new scientific and research projects, the InnoRenew CoE researchers have successfully acquired additional European funds that encourage the development of new investments in construction and strengthen the recognition and image of Slovenian science.

First successes in this regard have been achieved. Four Slovenian organisations are partners in a new high-profile Horizon 2020 project, “Pilots for Healthy and Active Ageing”, that will test new technologies to help older adults remain healthy, happy and independent later in life. The InnoRenew CoE, the National Institute of Public Health, Pensioners’ Home Izola, and SenLab d.o.o. joined 37 partners from 12 countries, led by Hewlett Packard, Italy, to prepare the project concept, which was approved in February of this year. The total project value is over €21 million, with nearly €19 million provided by the European Commission to support this project. Nearly €4 million is budgeted for Slovenian partners. In Slovenia, the partners will contribute to a wide range of project tasks with a focus on testing solutions to support healthy and active ageing at the Pensioners’ Home in Izola. The InnoRenew CoE will lead these activities and host an open call for other companies to test and demonstrate their solutions.

The InnoRenew CoE prepared a video about construction of the new buildings and important aspects of sustainable development in architecture.