Florence | Manifattura Tabacchi

Developer as an Early Tenant

In the Manifattura Tabacchi regeneration project, the intuition of the property and development company has been to follow the evolution of the construction site side by side with the city, “prototyping the future of the area together with citizens”

The first important decision in this direction has been taken by the management company, MTDM, with the choice to locate their own offices inside the area at the beginning of construction works (2017), becoming de facto the first tenant: living, working and observing the everyday’s interactions between the space and the citizens allows to better understand what is more important for different publics and, most of all, to both capture and trigger desires and wishes for the final uses.

Inclusive engagement, access & rights to cities


MTDM, Manifattura tabacchi management and Development company.


The acquisition of Manifattura Tabacchi (MT) in Florence by Aermont and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti marked the beginning of the rediscovery of a site with an important history. Manifattura was once a place of animated life, giving work to thousands of men and women, representing a symbol of women emancipation and playing a fundamental role in the socio-economic life of Florence. The closure of the site for 17 years left a sort of “vacuum” in the city: only the old generations that used to work there or that had relationships with people working there had memories of Manifattura as a living place. The “gap” between the old and the new generations and the fact that the site has been inaccessible for a long time contributed to surround Manifattura with an “aura of mystery”, linked to its past as an industrial site, but also to the high architectural and cultural value of the building.

In the MT regeneration project the high risk for a foreign investor to “close the doors” of the site, developing the regeneration project on its own, in a completely disconnected way from the feelings of the city and from the expectations of the local communities, needed to be avoided.


The choice of locating the development company within the spaces under regeneration happened by design, as an approach. In fact, the same approach of locating the most strategic players, in charge of the regeneration project and of the meanwhile uses inside Manifattura has been extended later on to MIM (managing meanwhile uses programme) and to the architectural firm (Q-bic) responsible for the ideation, design and construction of some of the relevant buildings of Manifattura. This decision proved to be unusual, as the management offices are often located outside the building sites during regeneration projects. This decision has been further extended to the overall “meanwhile strategy”, acknowledging that for a regeneration project to be successful, it must develop side by side with the city, therefore ensuring that the site is made open and accessible well before the regeneration process is over.

Under this perspective, since the very beginning, the property has been looking for something ‘’more’’ than a traditional communication agency: an on-site, local organization supporting temporary animation and activation of the place was needed.