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50 Years of Cooperation

Politecnica’s experience starts in 1972, when nine young engineers and architects teaching and working in Modena area agree on a common intuition: it is necessary to abandon the old concept of professional studio in favour of a stronger multidisciplinary approach, to face increasingly complex project challenges. On this shared idea, they establish C.I.A., Cooperativa Ingegneri e Architetti.

Let’s the founders talk...
Giorgio Pacchioni, Gabriele Giacobazzi, Richard Samson


Giorgio Pacchioni who founded the Cooperative

A founding member of the Engineers and Architects Cooperative, he proposed and firmly supported the original decision to form a cooperative. Born in 1936 in Pavullo nel Frignano near Modena, he graduates in Engineering at the University of Bologna. He makes a significant contribution not only to the establishment of the company, but also to its growth. Even in the most critical moments, he was able to set an example by cooperating and accompanying the other members towards increasingly ambitious goals. Just as in teaching, he was a moral example for all those who were close to him.

About Politecnica, he says... Today I look back with pride and wonder at the cooperative I created 50 years ago: a large independent company with a strong international presence and a long-term project. It all started with a determination to do integrated design. Then we projected the company into the future, focusing on the alliance between generation.
Of the challenges ahead... The defence of the environment, a central theme in recent years, requires the multidisciplinary horizon and integrated approach which form Politecnica's raison d'être.
A message to the new generations? Practice your profession with an active and critical view, work with the client in a never-ending dialogue, with courage and intelligence.

Gabriele Giacobazzi who led the evolution from CIA to Politecnica

President of C.I.A. and Politecnica for over thirty years, Gabriele has guided the evolution of the cooperative. He has been able to keep the cooperative's founding values alive and active, promoting the balanced development of the firm in the face of profound changes in society and technology. Born in 1949 in Prignano on the Secchia river, near Modena, he graduates in Civil Construction Engineering in Bologna. Researcher and university professor, he works as a designer and consultant in the fields of infrastructure, construction, town planning and real estate. He plays leading roles in trade and sector associations, consortia, companies, working groups, building and assessment commissions.

About Politecnica, he says... I have lived 35 years of my life in Politecnica. A long journey, many people with whom I shared exciting professional experiences. With Politecnica, I have been able to do project-based enterprise: an entrepreneurial activity that practices economic democracy, in which responsibilities, decisions and choices are shared.
Of the challenges ahead... Doing integrated design is still a cultural challenge: it implies a constant overcoming of the natural tendency to defend one's own professional sphere.
A message to the new generations? Designing requires a great capacity for identification. It is crucial to put yourself in people's shoes, to think and imagine like them. The project is momentum. It is the desire to change the world for the better. You don't do it out of routine, you need to keep the urge to say new things.

Richard Sansom who broadened horizons

The development of Politecnica on an international scale is largely due to Richard Sansom; born in 1950, he graduates in Civil and Hydraulic Engineering in Florence. In 1981, after having designed a few years abroad, Richard establishes IF srl - Idroforma, with engineer Massimo Nunzi and engineer Roberto Naldi. The meeting between Idroforma and C.I.A. is a lucky one: an intense collaboration is soon established, leading to the merger of the two companies in 1994. Richard was a member of Politecnica until 2018. Over the years he has worked on the design and supervision of dams and irrigation systems, roads and railway lines all over the world: Jamaica, Somalia, Mauritania, Egypt, Ecuador, Gambia, Belize, Malta, Libya and Sierra Leone.

About Politecnica, he says... The pride of being part of an engineering company ranking among the top 20 in Italy, with an advanced level of technological evolution and a plethora of complex projects. It is not only the technical and professional achievements that fill me with satisfaction, but also the awareness of having contributed to a secure job prospect for many people.
Of the challenges ahead... Today, more than ever, integrated design is the only answer to environmental risks and the need to reduce consumption. This response is enhanced by new tools and technologies currently guarantying the project sustainability.
A message to the new generations? Keep studying, always accept new challenges with a keen and participating eye on society.

The key moments of Politecnica

  1. The collective project that is now Politecnica is born in Modena.
  2. C.I.A., Cooperativa Ingegneri e Architetti, is founded.
    presidency of Paolo Martini
    presidency of Renzo Ballabeni
    presidency of Gabriele Giacobazzi
  3. New partners and new alliances, large and complex projects.
  4. incorporation of Tecnoexport
    alliance with Idroforma
  5. The evolution is completed: from a regional company to a solid national group.
  6. Incorporation of I.F. Idroforma (Florence) and Tecnoprogetti (Bologna): C.I.A. becomes Politecnica Ingegneria ed Architettura
    opening of the new Bologna operating office
  7. Internationality, technological evolution, certifications.
  8. certification processes begin
    new offices in Catania, Malta and Kosovo
  9. Ready for a complex national and international market.
  10. chairmanship of Francesca Federzoni
    opening of Milan operating office
    new office in Istanbul
    new offices in Copenhagen and Bucharest
    relocation of new Milan operating office
  11. Responding to the new challenges of inclusion, equity, sustainability.
  12. Gender Equality IDEM Certification
    new offices in Belize and St. Vincent and the Grenadines

A collective solidarity project

The decision to set up a cooperative is future-oriented, in the intention of doing business without renouncing principles of solidarity and fairness. At the heart of this is a generous intergenerational perspective, a long-term view.

In fact, over the years, a new generation of architects, engineers, physics graduates, but also technical experts, surveyors and designers enters C.I.A. bringing fresh skills and a new cultural perspective.

Among these newcomers is Gabriele Giacobazzi, the engineer who will lead the evolution of C.I.A. into Politecnica.

Autonomous, collaborative and increasingly international

Faced with many offers for acquisition, C.I.A. confirms its initial choice of autonomy and independence, starting collaborations with professional studios in Florence, Bologna, Rome and Milan. Through larger and more complex assignments it starts its international development phase.

New professional skills, competencies and tools flowing into the cooperative will be used to design for an increasingly evolved clientele: life cycle assessment, risk management, value engineering.

The new name of a project looking ahead

In 1994, under the new name Politecnica Ingegneria ed Architettura, the cooperative marks its transition from a regional design studio to a stable and innovative national company, with intense activities abroad. Since 2011 the chairmanship has been entrusted to Francesca Federzoni, an Engineer who has been at Politecnica since 1995.

A future of inclusiveness

Inclusive design is central to Politecnica, now more than ever. This means developing buildings and spaces that generate opportunities, capable of adapting to the uses and functions assigned to them by users. Similarly, gender inclusion matters: in 2021 Politecnica obtained IDEM Gender Equality Certification and has already set the goal of achieving numerical parity of people in the organisation by 2030 (today women make up 47% and enjoy full equal pay).