Initiatives focused on the Port-City relation II

Initiatives focused on the Port-City relation II

Last spring we noticed several initiatives focused in the port-city relation. This autumn we also have several events that will bring interesting inputs to the debate from different perspectives.

In this post we will also mention two congresses that took place during the summer months. The proceedings of these events are already available and include interesting papers.

15th AIVP World Conference Cities and Ports ‘Crossovers’

One of the main events focused in the port-city relation will take place this week in Rotterdam. From the 5th to the 7th of October more than 400 delegates will meet to discuss different issues related with relation between the port and the city. The AIVP in collaboration with the Port Authority of Rotterdam have prepared a dense program with speakers coming from different contexts and backgrounds. There will be interesting synergies between the professional and the academic worlds.

Here is the official statement explaining the conference:

Port cities everywhere are facing up to new challenges, both locally and globally. Factors such as energy, climate, e-commerce and “uberisation” of the economy, major geopolitical developments, are all overwhelming 20th century organisations and structures that are proving unequipped to deal with contemporary issues. New synergies, gateways, bridges and other crossovers need to be devised and developed, to ensure that ports, cities, economic stakeholders and citizens are able to play their part in the modernisation of port communities. The aim is to build a city-port relationship that is responsive, resilient, and competitive, while also taking into account the needs of the local population and the environment.

It is possible to work together. A whole host of initiatives have already been adopted, with increasing success. Our 15th worldwide conference in Rotterdam aims to showcase them, working with you to build YOUR future.

Topics:
1. How can crossovers between cities and ports enhance the circular economy?
2. How can crossovers between cities and ports stimulate innovative business climate?
3. How can we use smart technologies for green logistics and industries in port and city?
4. How can joined urban and port planning facilitate the next economy – flexible frameworks of port and city?
5. How can crossovers allow the creation of resilient ports cities facing up to the challenges of climate change
6. How can port cities enhance social innovation, develop new skills and raise the profile and image of the port?

More information here

Port of Lisbon: the future is prepared today

During October a series of conferences and debates has been prepared to discuss several issues related with the port in the context of the Portuguese capital.

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The port day in Lisbon. Retrieved from http://www.portodelisboa.pt

Each week there will be a debate with presentation from various professionals, focused in different specific topics. The issues to be discussed will go from the port-city relation, to the role of the port in the metropolitan area or even the maritime tourism, a hot topic nowadays in Lisbon.

The conclusion of the program will probably take place during the celebrations of the day of the port, on October 31st.

We leave you here a brief glance of the program:

Friday the 6th : Maritime tourism – a new dynamic

Friday the 14th: Innovative solutions for the port-city relation

Friday the 21st: A port with two shores – Multimodal platform of Barreiro

Thursday the 27th: The port of Lisbon – The future is made today

More information here

ISOCARP YPP/YPTDP Workshop Glasgow

The Young Planning Professionals of the ISOCARP workshop will take place in Glasgow by the last week of October. In this meeting the participants, 20 young professionals, will have the chance to discuss the redevelopment of Clyde Waterfront in Glasgow. The  connection new infrastructure and the integration of above and below ground urban design will be the main challenge the participants will have to face.

One of the most interesting aspects of this workshop is the fact the work will be developed by an interdisciplinary team, formed by 10 architects/urban planners and 10 civil engineers.

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The relation between infrastructure and public space to be discussed in Glasgow. Photo retrieved from: http://isocarp.org/ypp-workshop-glasgow-uk-oct-2016-rethinking-clyde-waterfront/

3rd International Workshop “Cities from the Sea – Maritime identity and Urban Regeneration”

In the city of Naples, organized by the Federico II university the 3rd International Workshop “Cities from the Sea – Maritime identity and Urban Regeneration” will take place between the 26th of November and 3rd of December.

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Cities from the Sea. 3rd International Workshop Retrieved from http://www.cnr.it/

In this workshop the participants, 30 student and 6 tutors, will have the chance to discuss the present and the future of the waterfront and port of Naples. The focus of the meeting will be development of port-cities from different perspectives, from urban planning to community psychology. There will an opportunity to interact with the local stakeholders and attend to several conferences from experts from different fields.

The Call for applications, both for students and tutors, is currently open. The deadline is October 14th.

We leave you here some information from the official website.

Topics

  • Urban planning and design in seaside cities, collaborative strategies, community psychology
  • Urban regeneration, place branding and urban marketing for seaside cities
  • Case study and field work areas: Port of Naples and San Giovanni Coast + Nisida Islet, Coroglio and Bagnoli + Historic Waterfront of Naples
  • Interaction with international referees and real stakeholders

Program Remarks

  • Integrated economic/enviromental/social approach
  • Focus group on port cities and coastal urban areas
  • Working with “hungry and foolish” people
  • Real interdisciplinary collaboration among planning, architecture, psychology, economics, ecology, art, social sciences, etc.
  • Interaction with key actors of Napoli metropolitan coast on the land and on the sea
  • “On board” site visits and views from the sea of Napoli metropolitan coast

4th World Port Hackathon

The 4th World Port Hackathon took place on the 2nd and 3rd of September, in the RDM Campus in Rotterdam. During twenty-four hours, 100 hackers took on the challenges from the port of Rotterdam and the port of Singapore. Throughout the World Port Hackathon, the hackers experienced active participation from the port community and there were also many visitors during the Expo and the Grand Finale. (Text retrieved from the official website).

17th IPHS Conference

Last July , the 17th Conference of the International Planning History Society was held in the TU Delft. In this event there several sessions with interesting papers. We can highlight one of them, more related with the port-city topic, titled: Resilience, Path Dependency and Port Cities. Several senior researcher ins the field of waterfront and port-city relations participated in the conference, such as Carole Hein (organizer of the event), Han Meyer or Dirk Schubert.

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IPHS. Retrieved from https://planninghistory.org/

 

The proceedings are already available in the congress website here.

13th International Conference on Urban History

A second congress also in the field of urban history, that took place this summer was the 13th Conference of the EAUH – European Association for Urban History. The event, realized in Helsinki, developed sessions about many different topics, being two particularly relevant for the ongoing investigation. The first one was the M21 European Seaport Culture. In it, several researchers presented investigation concerning several study cases, some of them already analyzed here, such as Rotterdam, Genoa or Marseille. Considering the type of conference the approach was from a historic point of view, but it gave interning insights to specific issues, like for example the origin of the Hafengeburtstag in Hamburg.

The second session relevant to the port-city relation was the S23. Reinterpreting Global History: Second Cities, an Alternative Road to Global Integration in the Nineteenth and Twentieth century. The discussion about the concept of second city, very often connected with the one of port-city, was particularly interesting. The papers were particularly incisive, discussing some cases aforementioned.

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The Genoa experience

The Genoa experience

The city, the visit

The time spent in Genoa was enough to have glance of the existing challenges and to better understand how a complex geography can condition the development of a city and a port. In the previous post we mentioned the particular situation of this case regarding its context. The fact that there is almost no flat land has forced the development parallel to the coast line of both the city and the port. The urban agglomeration has also other two orthogonal development axis, matching two rivers, the Bisagno and the Polcevera. Another particularity of this case, although is something we might appreciate in other cities, is the fact that several city districts used to be independent villages that were later annexed to the main urban core. In the Genoese case this situation is even more flagrant since its longitudinal configuration increases the differences and the distances. When we analyze this situation we see that the port and one particular road are the main links for the territory in this direction. The fact that the Port spreads along the coast from Piazzale Kennedy to the Voltri Terminal creates a continuum of maritime activities of different kind, from industrial harbour to marinas.

For the analysis of the case we followed the same methodology as in the previous cases. We visited the areas where the port-city relation is more intense and the elevated places from where we can see the contrast between the different environments. Along the visit we also made a photographic survey where the possible conflicts or synergies can be visited. The result of this work will be published in the Flickr  where all the other port-cities albums are. Besides the field analysis of the relation we also visited the cultural institutions that could provide insights to the interaction between the different realities. Finally several interviews with the responsible stakeholders were performed.

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Porto Antico Author: José M P Sánchez

In this city we can find several institutions that relate with the port identity. One of the main cultural venues where we see the historical relation of Genoa with the port and the sea is the Galata Museo del Mare. This museum fulfills the role of city and maritime museum. As we will later see until very recently there was another important space to understand the linkage between city and port, the Port-center. We can also find a maritime museum in Pegli, a smaller space more focused on the maritime activities.

The interviews

In order to better understand the Genoese reality we got in contact with the local authorities that could add important information to the case analysis. More specifically we were able to reach the Municipality, Arch. Antonio Pastorino and Arch. Nicoletta Poleggi. In the Port Authority we spoke with Ms. Paola Gianpietri (PG), responsible for the new Port Plan (Piano Regolatore Portuale – PRG in Italian) currently in approval phase as we will later see. Finally we spoke with Arch. Stefano Russo (SR), responsible for the Blueprint concept plan in the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. This last interview was an exception when compared with the previously analyzed cases, where we did not speak with private companies. Genoa is special in this aspect since the work of the architect Renzo Piano has a significant influence in the city, the port and waterfront development.

The relation between the city and the port

Emotional

In the emotional relation between the city with the port we can find similarities to what it happens in other port-cities, particularly Marseille. The maritime roots of Genoa are very clear and until not so long ago many families had a strong relation with the port activities. Obviously this has change in the last decades, the mechanization processes and changes in the economic flows has led to the situation we currently find ourselves in. The port is no longer the job creator it once used to be, although still is an important stakeholder in the employment market. Parallel to the decrease of jobs in the port we have also seen the continuous expansion of the port territories. In the case of Genoa, as we saw in the previous post, the increase of port areas took place mainly during the past century, from the east to west leaving the historical port behind. Also we find port areas near the Castello hill, mainly industries related with naval repair, yacht and rowing clubs.

Due to the physical evolution of the port, as explained before, the relation with the port is not uniform in the entire city. In the areas where the harbour first expanded,for example in San Pier d’Arena, the rejection of the port activities is not so strong. Curiously is in this part where the physical relation is more complex since the barrier effect produced by the port is stronger and is harder to intervene. The planned projects for this section of the city, as mentioned by the municipality, are in fact focused in taking profit of the port border, to transform the existing road into a sort of main connection that would reduce the traffic in the district’s urban tissue.

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San Pier d’Arena: Harbour next to the city Source: it.wikipedia.org

Towards the west is where the relation gets more complicated. This happens mainly because further west we find the most recent expansion projects. In the collective memory remains the image of this part of the city as the area where beaches of Genoa used to be. In the area of Cornigliano we find naval industries and the oil harbor. Both activities produce strong negative externalities regarding acoustic, air and water pollution. In the future we will see several changes in the area, mainly in the Porto Petroli (Oil Harbor). This infrastructure will be reduced and some of its activities will change their operation into a less space consuming one. Moving some of its elements to the inland and making connections with pipes directly to the ships.

In the Voltri area is where we find the most delicate relation, matching the area where the last port expansion, the Container Terminal, took place. This project was inaugurated in 1992 and changed significantly the configuration of the coast in this part of the city. At the time the possible impact was not a main concern, although a water channel was created as blue buffer to the city. Nowadays there are several construction sites in this area to configure a green buffer running parallel to what is known Fascia di rispetto di Pra (Respect strip of Pra). In this space we can find several public sport and leisure facilities such as a football field or the waterfront promenade.

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Voltri Terminal and Fascia di Rispetto di Prà Source: http://www.porticciolionline.it/

In the west part of the city, the most affected area by the Voltri terminal, we can also find an association named Fondazione Primavera,focused on the development of the city district. This autonomous organization tries to handle the relation with the port, considering it an important part of its territory. For example, in their vision for the district they include a point regarding the porto amico (the friendly port). They accept the port presence but demand certain improvements for their life quality, such as electric quays that would cause less acoustic pollution. This is not an organization created by the PA or other institution, although they do keep a dialogue.

It is clear that the majority of the coexistence issues might be found in the west part of Genoa, but also in the east we could see problems. More specifically in the area near the naval repair where an intense industrial activity takes place. The city district in the hill next to it does not have any barrier that could protect them from the noise, also the  height difference accentuates this issue.

View of Genoa with the port and La Lanterna on the back Author: José M P Sánchez
View of Genoa with the port and La Lanterna on the back
Author: José M P Sánchez

In general terms, as pointed out by PG, the port community is aware that the city does not know well what happens in the port. To solve this problem, as we will later see, in 2009 the Port center was created, this type of initiative will be further studied in the next stage of the research. Nowadays the PA is conducting a study to better understand the impact of the port in the city and the hinterland. The focus of this survey is the economy, but also includes the employment impact and it might provide new information regarding the public perception of the port.

Institutional

The institutional relation in the case of Genoa has as well several peculiarities. On the contrary of what we have seen in most of the previous cases the interviewees from both authorities, the Municipality and the PA, agreed that the relation is quite straightforward and the synergies are in general terms positive. This is quite surprising if we consider that usually there are several points where is difficult to find an agreement, but we must also understand that there are precedents of close collaboration among both institutions.

The cooperation between the Municipality and the PA started in the late 1980’s for the 1992 exhibition. During the process there was a strong dialogue for the development of the project. Later on, for the different waterfront interventions near the city, the collaboration was also necessary. From the year 2008 to 2012, the Genova Urban Lab was established, where once again both entities worked together for the improvement of the relation and the urban environment.

Porto Antico Area current state Author: José M P Sánchez
Porto Antico Area current state
Author: José M P Sánchez

Simultaneously the PA has changed their way of looking to the city. PG explained that there has been an evolution of the PA initiatives towards the city, mainly regarding the activities that can happen in the boundary between port and city. The intention of the PA is to go further than the mandatory relation forced by the law for the approval of institutional documents and plans. However she also pointed out that each body has different priorities and goals, what eventually might lead to more intense negotiation.

Where we could find more difficulties was in the relation between the PA and the national government. In Italy a centralized system is established, just like in France and other south European countries. For this reason the PA does not have full control over its budget and the revenues their activities generate. Although in recent years the control by the central government has slightly eased, the PA still is not able to fully decide where it will allocate its resources without consulting the national authorities. The interviewees mentioned that probably, if the port was more autonomous regarding its financial management, it could be more generous regarding the projects more related with the city.

In previous posts we have already seen how the organization of the country regarding its infrastructure can affect the relation between ports and cities. Related to this subject we will also see some changes in Italy in the near future. In recent years there has been a discussion regarding the organization of the Port Authorities. The main issue is the possible combination of different PAs into what could be consider regional PA, for example creating the Ligurian Port Authority replacing the ones from Genoa, Savona and La Spezia. The initial idea behind the process could, in our opinion, bring positive outcomes, since it would allow a better organization of the port system and better coordination regarding the maritime traffic. The law is currently under discussion and the initial idea has evolved, changing the criteria for the combination of the different PAs. As it was explained by PG, the last news they got was that the new PA would combine Genoa and Savona, leaving La Spezia with the PA responsible for the ports of Tuscany. Another problem could be the new Port Plan. This document, which we will later see in detail, is currently in the final development stage and the PA expects to have it functional by the end of next year. In case the new port system law is official before its approval, it could mean significant delays for the port plan, with the need of a new unprecedented document for the new institution.

Liguria region: Genoa in the center, Savona on the left side and La Spezia on the right. Source: http://www.geodus.com/
Liguria region: Genoa in the center, Savona on the left side and La Spezia on the right.
Source: http://www.geodus.com/

The Port and the Waterfront – Long standing discussion topic

Previous approaches

The waterfront of Genoa has been a subject of public argument of several decades. As we explained in previous posts, in the late 1980´s and early 1990´s the port area near the city center was released and a new public waterfront was created with a project from Renzo Piano. After this operation we can find other contributions from several renowned architects and urban planners for the port and waterfront of Genoa, including Piano himself several times. In 1996, the PA decided to create a specific agency where the new port plan would be discussed and new ideas could be developed. This new approach included the collaboration with the university and four well known architects: Rem Koolhaas, Marcel Smets, Manuel Solá Morales and Bernardo Secchi. The process was coordinated by Stefano Boeri and it brought new concepts, mainly for the port-city interface, which could have inspired the port plan published in 2001. We will not stop in detail in each one of them since there are several publications and articles that explain in detail the projects. The main areas of intervention were in the Cornigliano-Airport area, by Smets, the boundary between the city and the port from Ponte Parodi to La Lanterna, by Koolhaas, and the east part of the harbour, from the Porto Antico area to the Fiera del Mare (Exhibition fair). The last mentioned project was focused in a section of the city that is currently been discussed thanks to the Blueprint from Renzo Piano that we will later explain.

Proposal from Solá Morales Source:
Proposal from Solá Morales
Source: http://www.oddweb.it/

L´Affresco

In the first decade of the new millennium we saw another ambitious plan for the Genoese waterfront. This time Renzo Piano decided to develop a plan for the entire port, not just the released area. The goal was to redesign the port territory giving it a certain coherence that would eventually rearrange the logistic area of the port and improve its capacity. Consequently, this could lead to new waterfront areas been released for public use.

First version of the Affresco plan Source: http://www.rpbw.com/
First version of the Affresco plan
Source: http://www.rpbw.com/

The main idea of this new plan, presented in 2004, was to transform the airport into an artificial island in front of the city. This would allow the space of the airport to be used for new container terminal. In the San Pier d’Arena area several quays would be landfilled to allow more area for port activities. At the same time the naval reparation could be transformed into an island placed in front of La Lanterna. The plan caused controversy and several changes were requested. In the following years, 2005 and 2006, the project was reviewed and adapted to different demands. The moving of the airport was considered a key point but the idea of changing the naval repair area was dismissed. Another main goal was the improvement of the public access to the sea, for this reason in the area of Multedo we would see several changes. Here was where we could find the oil harbour, one of the most polluting activities along with the coal energy plant, the idea was to relocate them and leave the opportunity for new waterfront uses.

The plan was very discussed by public entities and the port community, but eventually it was not translated into a reality. The need of massive investment, estimated by president of the region at the time in 4,000 mil. €, was considered excessive. When we asked the interviewees about the failure of the plan,they also mentioned other points, such as the airport or the landfill needs. Regarding the airport,the main issue was that moving it into an artificial island it would not solve the problems it causes. The height limit established by the responsible authorities or the limits to the port activities would remain the same since the landing and take over routes would be very similar to the existing ones. Another issue was the execution of the project. Until the new airport was concluded,the existing one would not be dismantled and prepared for port activities. Also the economical and ecological impact related with the key project were an issue. To execute the necessary landfill, the idea was to use earth coming from the new highway and railway connections, with several tunnels that would generate excessive dirt. Since these new infrastructures were not built the impact caused by the artificial island would be even greater.

Later version from the Affresco Plan Source: www.rpbw.com
Later version from the Affresco Plan
Source: http://www.rpbw.com

The Affresco was not implemented but some of its ideas would later become a reality, such as the reduction of the oil harbor or the deactivation of the coal power plant. In this plan it was already clear that the port community is formed by very different realities and that change is not always seen as something positive.

Blueprint

In September 2015 a new document named the Blueprint plan was publicly presented. The author, Renzo Piano, decided to give it to the city rejecting any kind of compensation. As told by SR, Piano’s office was contacted by members of the region, PA and the municipality to request him a concept plan for a part of the waterfront. This time, in contrast with the Affresco, the area was significantly smaller, with clear boundaries and specific problems. The concerned part of the port was the waterfront between the Porto Antico and Punta Vagno, where Piazzale Kennedy is in the east part of the city.

View of the west part of Genoa
View of the west part of Genoa

The main concern in this intervention was the current situation of the naval repairs shipyards that needed new facilities in order to continue with their activity and not move away to other city, such as Marseille as it has been rumored. On the other hand the same companies are not so opened to major changes, as we saw in the Affresco plan, so the solution needed to work without major configuration changes. Besides this main issue, which was the main problem for the PA in this area, we have other elements that demanded a new solution. Regarding the maritime activities in this area, we also find several marinas, sport and leisure associations, like the Yacht Club (the oldest one in Italy), the rowing club, or Societa’ Canottieri Genovesi Elpis, among others. These organizations are also very important since, as we will see, they do not fully agree with the proposed solution.

From the city side,the Fiera district has become serious urban problems. The global importance of industrial fairs has been diminishing over the last decades since the advent of new and more effective communication methods. In Genoa we can still find the Boat Show, which is one of the biggest worldwide, and other minor events that only use the existing facilities for a short period in specific dates. This situation is becoming problematic because the current buildings are oversized and have entered in a possible degradation process. At the same time the lack of revenues has caused serious economic problems to the public company that used to manage the industrial fair, therefore the maintenance is even more complicated. This is an urban problem that was included in the scope of the new plan.

Genoa exhibition fair Source:http://www.primocanale.it/
Genoa exhibition fair
Source:http://www.primocanale.it/

Finally another issues were the fact that the area hosts several important road connections that add complexity to the situation. Also this part of the city center until now did not had any sort of direct contact with the sea.

Renzo Piano, besides considering all the existing problems, also took the opportunity to give access to the water to this city district, creating a new longitudinal park, as pointed out by other authors following the idea of Solá Morales. This new public space would be able to connect the Porto Antico to the Piazzale Kennedy, an area that would also be regenerated into a new green area.

The main concept of this plan is the development of a new water channel that would create a sort of blue buffer between the urban and port realities, giving a more clear separation between the different industrial, sport and urban areas. The line followed by the new water canal it is not casual, it follows the path of the old port walls, the Mura della mala paga. This new water area does not always has the same width, but always keeps a minimums size in order to allow the navigability. The widest point would be in front of the current Yacht club, where it would stretch until reaching a maximum width similar to the one of the old dock, the first harbor of Genoa. Besides the new channel, that transform the shipyard section into an island, there would also be a reconfiguration of the industrial part, creating more space due to the planned landfills. These interventions would use the land extracted from the new waterway hence increasing the sustainability of the project.

Blueprint plan Source: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Blueprint plan
Source: Renzo Piano Building Workshop

In order to grant the access to the industrial area, a new parallel road would be created in the level of the intervention, following partially the path of the Sopraelevata. The new island would include two connections with firm land. The waterfront longitudinal park would exist mainly on the city side of the waterway, and only partly on the sea side, in front of the Yacht Club. During the design phase there was the attention to provide at least the same linear meters of docking space as the existing ones, although in most cases the final figure was bigger than the current situation. What clearly changes is the configuration of the berths, from a compact distribution to one along the new canal and in the fair area.

The Fiera part would also suffer major changes. The area of the fair would be reduced to less than half and only the buildings that are considered more relevant would be kept, such as the one from architect Jean Nouvel. In this section of the plan the sport center Palasport would also be preserved, although its context would change due to the new presence of water that would allow the creation of roofed docks for small and medium sized embarkations. Also in this part of the plan is where we can find the new constructions. The program would be mainly focus on housing, tertiary and commerce related with the maritime world.

Section through the Palasport Source: http://www.comune.genova.it/
Section through the Palasport
Source: http://www.comune.genova.it/

Regarding the project financing, the PA is expected to be responsible for financing the works related with the port activities, but the private investment would also be part of the equation. Although the general intervention is to be led by public institutions, the new construction would be developed by private investors. The agreement would probably require certain negotiation, but these sort of financing schemes is a typical approach to the urban regenerations projects, as we have seen in previous cases. It is also a characteristic of the current model of large urban interventions which contrasts with the first generation of waterfront plans in the Mediterranean sea, such as the Port Antico or the Barcelona case.

There are several key ideas behind the plan, besides the physical interventions, that must be kept in mind as Arch. Russo explained us. First of all the fact that the plan is a conceptual plan, therefore is not to be taken literally and certainly it requires a considerable amount of work to fully develop the concepts presented. At the same time, the main features of the plan allow its adaptation to the different possible solutions to existing problems near the concerned areas, such as the creation of a tunnel under the Porto Antico bay. This option has been discussed for several decades and never fully dismissed. In the municipality we were told that the current mayor considers this to be an option for the cross traffic. If we eventually see in the near future a tunnel, the Sopraelevata might change it use for example to an elevated public space. The Blueprint is thought in a way that allows different approaches without compromising the key decisions of the plan.

Another important point is the fact that the plan establishes several areas that should be discussed in further detail in new urban planning competitions. The decided boundaries are simply a suggestion from the project team and could be adapted to changing scenarios. The intention of Renzo Piano would be to allow young architects to bring new ideas for the waterfront and further develop the plan.

The Blueprint has caused a considerable discussion since its presentation to the public. Not all the concerned actors are in favor of the plan concepts. As mentioned before, there are several groups opposing its implementation, mainly the Yacht Club. This organizations disagrees with the idea of changing the distribution of the berths although their main building would remain in the same location. One of the main reason for this opposition is the fact that in their eyes is not so clear what happens when the nautical fair takes place, since they would need the berths next to main fair halls, an area they would use. For this reason, in the plan the project team carefully increased the linear meters of docks when compared with the existing ones. On the other hand the port community is very often reluctant to change, as we have seen in other cases. In this particular context the members of the yacht club are often persons with considerable connections and resources. At the same time the concession contract for the docks given to the club would end in December this year, therefore a negotiation was already necessary. At the present there is an intense discussion about the topic, hyped by the press. During the next year we should find out if the pressure groups against some of the plan ideas succeed and are able to force a change.

New context for the Yacht Club building Source: http://www.comune.genova.it
New context for the Yacht Club building
Source: http://www.comune.genova.it

Finally there is another point we were able to discuss with SR, the name of the plan. Blueprint is the name given in architecture to the construction plan that are taken to the site to have the instructions and detail for the construction. In this case, the plan is exactly the opposite since is a concept for the waterfront, far from the execution phase. The name is related with the dominant color of the intervention, blue. Renzo Piano insisted in leaving the water with its color and abstracting the land and construction so the most important element would be enhanced. The key was to give a contact with the water to the city, and this was achieved with the new waterway. This main concept is even clearer in the simplified plans, without the satellite picture, therefore the simplification was crucial to better explain the concept and leave the essence of the project very clear, just like what happens with the sketches in the architecture projects.

Blueprint plan, contrast between the water and the city Source: http://www.comune.genova.it
Blueprint plan, contrast between the water and the city
Source: http://www.comune.genova.it

Port Plan

The new port plan has been under development since 2010 and currently is in what we could consider the final stage near the approval, something that it should happen during the year 2016 or beginning of 2017. In the new plan there are several elements that are innovate and could bring significant improvements to the port-city relation. The concern about the interaction with the city has been one of the key elements on the making process and the main goal, as expressed in the plan, is to be able to create value for the territory.

View of Genoa Source: http://www.porto.genova.it/
View of Genoa
Source: http://www.porto.genova.it/

We have seen in this post and the previous one that Genoa is placed in a territory with a complex topography, for this reason the expansion of the port has been decided to be inwards. The opposition to new landfills would be significant hence the only option was to improve the operation of the port within the existing territory, changing its morphology to receive the largest ships reaching 18,000 to 22,000 TEU. The plan is organized into two main components: the physical plan and the immaterial plan. Both are important and both have consequences for the city. In the case of the immaterial plan the main innovation is the improvement in the integration of control and custom system in order to have a more fluid traffic hence reducing its impact in the city. This is something we have also seen in other cases like Helsinki. In order to work it requires an effort not just from the PA, but also from all the other concerned authorities. The physical plan would be responsible for the changes in the port territory and for achieving the industrial, environmental and integration goals.In this plan is where we can find the new protection projects, a new system of breakwater that would allow the bigger ships a safe entry into the port.

Operational areas

The plan is organized in three different operational areas, the PO (Operational Port), the PP (Passengers Port) and the PU (Urban Port). For this article we will focus in the urban and passenger areas since are the one that will have a more direct interaction with the city. Regarding the operational port is important to understand that the interior growth would required still more land for the docks. This increase in the activity would partly be achieved by creating more space for the berths of ships in the San Pier d’Arena port section, land filing several basins like it has already been done in some areas. Another important change for the industrial port is the reduction of the oil harbour, as we have seen an idea already explored previously. The motivations are both environmental and economical, since the released area could be used by the shipyards Fincantieri. The system could be replaced by hoses therefore avoiding the birth of the oil tankers.

The operational fields aforementioned are very often intersecting with each other and with the city boundaries, the Passenger Port is the one that has a more clear physical translation. This last one is considered to form the transition areas in several points, such as the ferry terminals that allow more direct interaction between the citizens and the port. These points are also part of one of the strategies to improve the visual interaction, called the “grafts”, areas where there could a more direct physical and, mainly, visual relation. For the Passenger Port is also very important the parallel circulation, following the concepts that we already see in some of the ferry terminals or in Terrasses du Port in Marseille. In Genoa should be even easier to achieve since the topography allows the creation of two different heights, one in the harbor level and another in the street level. This increased interaction, that could be very positive for city’s perception of the port, is now jeopardized by the increase of the security measures which go in the opposite direction by separating the people from the restricted area as much as possible.

Urban Port

In the Urban Port we find several areas that will gather the majority of the interventions. In the west, the Voltri terminal will be transformed into an island by the creation of a new water channel, extending the Fascia di rispetto di Prà. This new waterway will include new public waterfront and it will work as a blue and green buffer between the city and the industrial area. Further east we might eventually see projects for the area of the oil harbor that could include a beach and public waterfront, although this is still an element to be discussed.  Another important point will be the area around the Lanterna. The old lighthouse should be better connected with the city center since it is considered the city’s landmark and the current access is clearly deficient. In this waterfront section we will also presence major changes in the power plant that will be deactivated in 2017. There is an ongoing dialogue to decide the future function of it, but it could be a very interesting point in the waterfront regarding the geographical location and for the possibility of turning it into an element of industrial port heritage.

Changes in the Voltri Terminal
Changes in the Voltri Terminal

In the central section of the waterfront, the Porto Antico area, the existing functions will remain and the previously planned project should be executed. In this case, the Silo Hennebique and Ponte Parodi would be the main interventions. Since they are object of controversy we will explain them in further detail later on.

Finally, the eastern part of the port, the one concerned in Blueprint plan, is where we might see the bigger changes. The ideas developed by Renzo Piano were incorporated in the plan and the concept of developing a blue buffer is consider to match the strategies that were already thought. In this area, we shall also see in the near future another project from the same architect, replacing the previous one that in May 2013 was destroyed in an accident.

Of all the waterfront interventions, the one that has more clear options of being becoming a reality is the one in Voltri, since it could be included in the plan for the terminal. This is an important issue because the port is mainly allowed to invest in projects that have a direct impact in the port activities. The intervention in Voltri could be considered a compensation measure or part of the necessary buffer to industrial activities. The other ones are more complex since they will not probably depend from one single investor.

Waterway of Prà Source:it.wikipedia.org
Waterway of Prà
Source:it.wikipedia.org

Silo Hennebique

One of the most notable projects in the Genoese waterfront is the rehabilitation of the old silos. This building is placed in a prominent location, particularly when seen from the sea, entering the bay. What it used to be a warehouse for grain, kept functioning until the beginning of the 1990’s and it is a crucial element for the completion of the waterfront, from the Magazzini del cottone until the cruise terminal Ponte dei Mile. The building is in poor condition and any kind of intervention would require important sums for the investment. Its size, over 8,000 sqm, the demands from the port regarding the future functions to be hosted and the economic situation caused that the call for proposals from 2012 was declared deserted. During our interview PG explained us that in the coming year 2016 there will be a new call for proposals which will demand 30% of public functions. In the near future we shall see if these important element of industrial heritage is regenerated and included in the urban life.

View of the Silo Hennebique from the water Author: José M P Sánchez
View of the Silo Hennebique from the water
Author: José M P Sánchez

Ponte Parodi

The second project, also very relevant for the completion of the waterfront, is the future cruise terminal Ponte Parodi. In 2001 the Dutch office UNstudio, led by Ben van Berkel, won the international competition for the new terminal project. The building would continue with the concept of sharing the space between port and urban functions, besides the terminal it would include a mall and public areas. The problem is that since 2001 the project has been constantly delayed for many difference reasons. Currently there are several port activities taking place in this quay, for example it still hosts the tugboats. During the process there were also changes in the investment firms and discussion with the affected port industries who also opposed to the project. We understood that also the administrative process has not been so easy. This part of the waterfront was included in transformation district, a part of the port territory that would pass to the municipality. This process is still ongoing, but the municipality considers it finished. The agreement was that the PA would be in charge of the maritime works, for what we could see they are taking place. At the same time the demolishing of the existing warehouse that have no value is happening. We can still see the project in the website of the owner company, the French firm Altarea.

 

Piano Urbanistico Comunale

In the past, the port and urban development plans were published almost simultaneously, therefore the coordination between both was easier since they referred to the same time period and the discussion would be in the same terms. This time the municipal development plan, named the PUC (Piano Urbanistico Comunale), was finished before the one from the port. In this new document the port is mentioned and the coastal development have an important role. The importance of the harbour is acknowledged and there are several key interventions in the waterfront that are coordinated with the PA.

In the interview with the architects from the municipality, they explained us which project will be more important for the waterfront. In the west part of the city, the area along the Prà water channel will continue to be developed adding new green areas and sport and leisure facilities. Further on, an agreement has been found with shipyards. They will be allowed to extend to the oil harbour territory in Sestri once it changes its configuration, in exchange the shipyards will give back to the city the land they own placed on next to the railway. Also in Sestri there is another area that will be subject of discussion in the next years, the Piaggio industrial plot. The historic brand is currently going through a difficult period which could eventually lead to dismissing a part of their industries in Genoa. In this case, the location of this land could be an option for increasing the public access to the water, but during our meeting it was clarified that this decision is not taken. Nearby we can find a marina and public waterfront, but as we understood they are not planned to grow. In San Pier d’Arena we can find another significant project, the Lungomare Canepa. The goal in this case is to improve the existing road in the boundary with the port in order to handle more traffic and retreat cars and trucks from the inside of the neighborhood. The current road is not in the best condition and the barrier effect is inevitable. In this area the PA has also not planned any changes, therefore the idea of retreating traffic from the inner roads could make sense.

Lungomare Canepà Source: http://www.repstatic.it/
Lungomare Canepa
Source: http://www.repstatic.it/

Finally, in the west part of the city, the Blueprint plan could show the path to the future. Since the problems handled in the plan, as we have seen, are not just port issues, the city should also be integrated in the solution. Since the document is very recent we should wait to see how evolves and how do the necessary agreements between the concerned authorities work out.

Renzo Piano

In the case of Genoa we can find a figure that has had considerable influence in the planning of the waterfront and the port over the last 25 years, the architect Renzo Piano. For this reason when spoke with the different stakeholders we had to ask how was this relation. In general terms they all agreed that this architect, and senator, has played a central role in the development of the city. Since the Porto Antico project his ideas have influenced the port and urban plans. Although nowadays his main office in is Paris, he keeps an emotional connection with the Ligurian capital that has taken him to donate several works, like the aforementioned Blueprint plan or the pilot’s tower project. In the municipality, we were told that his ideas do not always find the expected reaction, particularly regarding the follow up after the first concept. At the same time, his presence has became a political and economic assets, since his participation in projects and initiatives gives them credit and work as a facilitator for their conclusion. Sometimes though, the dialogue in the high political levels are not so well connected with the everyday reality. For example the port plan was an ongoing process since 2010 without the collaboration of Renzo Piano, only later the concepts in the Blueprint were brought and incorporated to the plan, with the initiative of the high political spheres as mentioned by PG. This was not so traumatic since the ideas were coherent with the ones in the plan and a dialogue process was rapidly established.

Torre Piloti from Renzo Piano Source: http://www.porto.genova.it/
Torre Piloti from Renzo Piano
Source: http://www.porto.genova.it/

In general terms the work of Renzo Piano and his contribution for the city is much appreciated, also by the inhabitants who identify him as one of the most notorious Genoeses of last century and beginning of this one.At the end, if the majority of his ideas were to become a reality, we could observe a port-city with a more coherence vision making it more particular when compared with other cases.

Soft-values, cultural initiatives

The relation between the port and the city in Genoa has evolved significantly in the last years. In recent times we have seen several initiatives that allow the citizens to have a better understanding of the port. Particularly important is the Genoa Port Center, inaugurated in 2009, it functioned until September 2014. The port-center was born from a collaboration between the PA, the port community, the region and the university. It received initial funding from the EU and it implied a considerable preparation work in order to sum up something as complex as the port into a short exhibition reachable to children and youngsters of different age.

Genoa Port Center Source: http://www.genoaportcenter.it/
Genoa Port Center
Source: http://www.genoaportcenter.it/

This facility was one of the founding members of the AIVP Port-Center network. During the years it has been open it has been a success, during the first three years it welcomed almost 20,000 students of different levels. PG recognized it was a very useful tool for the disclosure of the port activity and importance.

The center has been managed by the Muvita foundation, an organization from the region. Unfortunately the port-center has to close their doors due to changes in the management. From what we could understand, the idea was that it would be managed by the PA when the European program ended. When this happened, it closed and since it has remained like that. We tried to contact the person responsible from the organization but unfortunately got no answer. We expect it will reopen in the future since it has not been fully dismantled, although it has been already closed for over a year. The port-center issue will be studied in further detail as the research advances. It is relevant to say that the network has been expanding and in this year the Livorno port-center opened their doors in the historical context of the Fortezza Vecchia, the old fortress.

The PA has also engaged in several initiatives related with soft-values and communication with the citizens, such as the web TV and other cultural activities. These events, like the port-day, were more common when the port-center was fully functional, since they were also in charge of the cultural agenda, as we can see in the website.

In Genoa we can find other cultural facilities where the port’s role in the city is well explained. The Galata Museo del Mare is another example. This museum works both as sea and city museum. The link between the city and the maritime activities is very clear and a very complete exhibition, including actual size galley models, explain us how it has evolved. We can also find the naval museum of Pegli. As the name indicates is more focus in the maritime history and affairs.

In the case of Genoa we might also find often cultural initiatives related with the port. In the different museums there are exhibitions of photography or painting, also in spaces like Loggia dei  Mercanti, there are usually activities that have a relation with the port, for example the industrial heritage or the commerce.

Besides the local initiatives, there have been other related with the port that are focus on enhancing the cultural importance of this infrastructure. Particularly interesting is the international film festival “Zones Portuaires“, an initiative born in Marseille five years ago, therefore also very relevant for that city, was hosted in Genoa  in last September with a program full of events related with the seaport culture, mainly focused in this city.

Personal Opinion

The territorial constraints present in the case of Genoa force a more intense relation between the city and the port. The fact that the boundary between both territories is so complex has brought even more attention to the problem. As we have seen, the discussion of the waterfront and the physical and visual access to the water has produced interesting publications and plans from renowned architects and planners. Unfortunately, all this intellectual effort has not been translated into equivalent physical changes. Some of these plans were too ambitious and in other cases the economic and/or political context did not allowed their further development. The fact that since 1992 we have not seen major changes in the waterfront, except the ones in 2001 and 2004 in a smaller scale, might have affected the credibility of the new plans. As we saw there are important projects waiting to happen, but they carry a delay of almost 15 years in some cases.

View of Genoa Author: José M P Sánchez
View of Genoa
Author: José M P Sánchez

In this case the dialogue and cooperation is higher than in other studied cases, particularly if we consider that the institutions depends from different bodies in different levels, local and national. The initiatives like the Genova Urban Lab or the Agency for the Port Plan reveal a predisposition towards the dialogue, although the steps after the plan have not always been fully achieved. For other port-cities is a good example of joint project. We already saw in Rotterdam the positive synergies that can be created with this sort of initiatives, Genoa shows another path that might be better adapted for the southern European countries, where the central government has a strong influence over the PA.

The new port plan has also several concepts that might be interesting for other cases where physical boundaries constitute constrains for the port activity. It is an intelligent approach for the port growth, instead of physically expand the port territory to try to reach the maximum capacity by improving the efficiency of the existing infrastructure. In other port-cities with territorial limitations is a good option instead of demanding more land to the urban area next to the port. Another approach is the expansion in Brownfields that also has less impact than blue or green port expansion. We could see this sort of plan in Lisbon, since the port will expand to the south side of the river in an existing brownfield. This leads us to another important issue, the intervention in the active port to improve the relation with the city. In the case of Genoa we see that, due to territorial limitations, we will probably not see large waterfront interventions in dismissed port areas, instead the strategy will focus in specific points with smaller projects in the boundary between the active port and the city. The concept of the blue buffer is an example of this sort of project. In the eastern part of the city the ideas presented in the Blueprint plan could also be a significant improvement for both the city and the port. This sort of “urban acupuncture”, a set of specific small scale actions that lead to an improved relation, might be the model for the future in opposition to the previous large scale operation.

Regarding the social initiatives of the PA, Genoa was for some years a real reference in the field. Their Port-Center very often worked as a role model for the new ones in other ports. The impact this kind of initiatives is not to be seen immediately but more in the long term. In order to get the SLTO (Social License to Operate), the PA must develop an agenda of events and take profit of the existing structure. It is understandable that in the central government the soft-values of seaports might be more difficult to conceive as something important, but in the end is one of the main ways for the port to be accepted by the inhabitants of the city on their back. We can only expect that this situation will change and that the port-center will reopen its doors. The problem of social integration of ports will be studied in further detail in the next stage of the research. Hopefully, we will be able to get to know other cases and the role the AIVP has played in the development of this kind of initiatives.

In conclusion Genoa is one of the cases where the relation between city and port is more intense, however they have been able to keep relatively positive interaction. The strategies here presented could be adapted to other cases. The alternative of small actions against the policy of white elephants is an intelligent approach, particularly in crisis or post-crisis scenarios, like the one we find ourselves in. It is time to try alternatives to the business as usual model, and learn how we can act in the active harbor and still improve the relation of the city with the port and the water.

Continue reading “The Genoa experience”

The Italian case: Genoa

The Italian case: Genoa

Genoa, a maritime power

The city of Genoa is the capital of the Liguria region, in the north-west of Italy. Is part of the most industrial area of the country, historically formed by the triangle between Milan, Turin and itself. It has a population of almost 600 000 inhabitants in the city limits and of over 1,5 million in the metropolitan area. The region has the typical north Mediterranean topography, with mountains with peaks form 600 to 1000 meters high near or directly by the coast. This context has been at the same time an advantage and a problem for the urban settlements and ports. The coastline creates natural ports and the deep water allows easy access for the modern ships, but at the same time the fact that the terrain is so complex complicates the creation of large flat surfaces for major infrastructure such as ports and airports.

View of Genoa Source: http://www.porto.genova.it/
View of Genoa
Source: http://www.porto.genova.it/

The origin of the city goes back to the pre-romans time. The existing settlement in the “Castello” hill had the conditions to work as an Emporium for commerce in the route to Marseille. As it happens with many other Mediterranean cities is possible that the Greeks arrived and related with the locals Ligurians to give birth to the new city. During the roman times the town was not a very important center of power and was able to keep a certain independence. After the fall of the Roman Empire we could see how the city continues to grow and benefits from the development of the Lombard hinterland. Only in the XIth century would the city become a proper commune.

During the Middle Ages, Genoa would become one of the main maritime republics in the Mediterranean region. In this period it would play an important role in the crusades on both ends of the sea, the Middle East and the Iberian Pensinsula, its galley fleet would gain fame for its capacities in the sea battles. In the XVIth Century the city would create, after a period of French control, a long standing relation with the Spanish kingdom. This political change was defended by one of the main figures of its history, Andrea Doria. This alliance was not just a political move, but mainly an economic strategy. The local bankers would be the ones who most benefit from this move, by lending money to Spain and receiving later a considerable amount of the gold coming from South America. The new association would mean a change in its development model, more focus in financing foreign states than in the maritime traffic and commerce.

View of Genoa in 1597 by Christoforo de Grossi Source: http://www.museum-humpis-quartier.de
View of Genoa in 1597 by Christoforo de Grossi
Source: http://www.museum-humpis-quartier.de

Later on, during the XVIIth century, the city would suffer a severe epidemic of the plague, second time in its history after the XIVth Century. In terms of politics it would be affected by the Spanish crisis and would end the century again under French domination from the King Louis XIV. In order to control Genoa, would attack it from the sea in 1684, what it would be the first naval bombing of a city in history. During this century we could see the creation of the free port and the new dike in order to improve its commercial conditions. In the next century it would definitely lose its overseas territories, like Corsica to France in the treaty of Versailles. It would be later controlled by the Austria and again would rebel against the foreign invader.

MAP of Genoa in 1766 Source:
MAP of Genoa in 1766 by Giovanni Lorenzo Guidotti Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

Only during the industrial revolution would Genoa recover its glory days as an important economic, logistic and industrial center. It would see the creation of several big companies mainly related with steel plants. During the WWII the city suffered severe punishment due to its seaport conditions. The focus of the bombings was the port infrastructure, although also the urban tissue suffered considerable destruction. After the war it was an important core for the “Italian economic miracle” and formed, alongside with Milan and Turin, the industrial triangle of the north of Italy. During the second half of the XXtth century the city suffered several crisis that reduced its industry and limited the port as a logistic center with less associated industry than before.

Along its history the city has been involved in many conflicts, whether with the neighbors, like Pisa or Savona, or with sea rivals like Venice. Also, inside the city itself, we would see little peace. It has suffered constant tension from the first Commune years to the G8 summit in 2001, including civil wars, resistance to foreign domination or class struggle.

The port of Genoa

The port of Genoa is one of the biggest in the Mediterranean Sea. In the Euromed region we find several harbours that compete against each other for similar markets and hinterlands. Marseille, which we saw in the previous post, could be considered the main rival of Genoa for the port activity. Both harbours have large container terminals, important shipyards and are cruise destination. In this last sector, very important in the region, we also find Barcelona or other Ligurian ports like Savona.

There are several similarities to the case of Marseille in terms of the physical evolution of the port. As we have seen, the origin of the port was near the historical city center. During the industrial revolution and motivated by the growth of the factories in the region the port needed to be expanded, starting a similar process to the previous analyzed case. From the original location the growth evolved towards the territory with the most favorable conditions, the west, where before the port expansion we could see beaches that the locals would usufruct. The first expansion took place near La Lanterna, the historical light house from the XIIth century. Gradually it took more territory, including the coast of San Pier d´Arena.

The case of Genoa has the particularity of including the airport inside the port perimeter. The presence of this infrastructure is a considerable limitation for the port activities next to it. The last expansion phase of the port took place in the area of Voltri, in the 1980´s, with one the main container terminals. The majority of the port territories are landfills since, as said before, the availability of flat land is very limited. To the east side of Porto Antico we also find port areas, but of smaller scale when compared to the other direction. In this territories we can mainly find repairing shipyards and marinas with the historical Yacht club.

In the year 2014 the port of Genoa registered record figures.  In total it had a general throughput of 52 mill tons. From these figure approx. 30 mill was general cargo, including 21,5 mill in container traffic. In Genoa the oil sector is also relevant: in 2014 it was around 16 mill tons. In the same year it counted almost 2,2 mill TEU, with an increment of 9,3% to the previous year. Besides cargo, the passenger traffic is also an important sector in this port. Ferries and cruise combined moved over 2,7 mill persons, 1,9 mill and 800 000 respectively. This numbers, although impressive when compared with other ports, might be a matter of concern for the port, since the cruise traffic went down 21,5% when compared to the previous year. This drop might probably be related with the fact that Costa Crociere, one of the main actors in the sector, decided in 2014 to change Genoa for Savona. This issue is more concerning to the city than the port itself since, as it is well known, the port does not get so much revenue from the cruise traffic.

View of the port from La Lanterna Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org
View of the port from La Lanterna
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

In terms of employment the port is still a significant entity in the city. We could only find data from some years ago, 2010 and 2011. Since the traffic has not changed significantly during these years we can assume they probably still are near the real current figures. The direct employment in the port is estimated in 4700 jobs, and indirect of 26 300, including activities very related with the port such as the shipyards. In total we account 31 000 jobs without considering the induced employment, activities not related with the port but that benefit from the port activities and jobs.

An interesting point of the port development is the new port plan (PRP) currently in approval phase. The main characteristic of this new document, in terms of port territory, if the fact that no expansion outside the current boundaries is planned and the expected growth will take place within the existing area, mainly by improving the efficiency of the existing land and new landfills in several quays, mainly the ones placed in San Pier d´Arena. This plan and the consequences for the relation with the city will be analyzed in the next post.

The waterfront

The first important interventions in the Genoese waterfront took place for the 1992 World Exhibition, celebrating the 500 years of the discovery of America by Columbus (allegedly Genovese, but its nationality is always a subject of controversy). The plan for the waterfront regeneration was made by Genoa´s most famous contemporary architect, Renzo Piano.

The project was developed in the “Porto Antico” (old port) area, a territory the port could no longer use, including old warehouses and cranes that later would become elements of industrial heritage. The project could be considered a success since it gave to the city a much needed public space and access to the water. In terms of program the focus of the project as putted in services and leisure activities. A new congress center was created in the magazzini del cottone, with several spaces for cultural activities, including a museum and a library. Another one of the main elements of the project was the new aquarium, the biggest one in Italy and an important tourist attraction. This new building, developed by the water was also a project from Renzo Piano, along with the congress center and other buildings. In the water plane a new marina was developed, where nowadays we might find some of the most luxurious yachts. For the management of these new spaces a new semi-private society was created named Porto Antico. In this new body the port, the city and private investors are present.

View of Porto Antigo Source: www.rpbw.com
View of Porto Antigo
Source: http://www.rpbw.com

Later on, in 2000´s, we could see more projects focused on improving the area and expanding the public space in the waterfront. These new development were related with the so called, big events policy. Two main venues took place in Genoa within a short distance in time: in 2001 the G8 meeting took place in the city and in 2004 the city was the European capital of culture. In the waterfront the public area was expanded towards the west, the Galata sea museum was built, and also new hotel and housing by the sea. In the city center we also saw several improvement, particularly the rehabilitation of several “palazzi”. In 2006 some areas of the city center were considered world heritage by the UNESCO.

During the last 15 years we have also seen some unrealized ambitions that could have improved even more the existing waterfront. Two main projects stand out, the new Ponte Parodi cruise terminal and the Silo Hennebique. The first one should have been a key infrastructure for both, the city and the port. It was a very ambitious project by the Dutch office UNstudio led Ben Van Berkel. It included the creation of a new mall and elevated public spaces, besides the cruise terminal program. The second mentioned project is the rehabilitation of an industrial building of considerable proportions. One of the challenge of this building was to find the appropriate functions for it. For a long period it was discussed if it should host several public offices. Since the project has not been developed the building remains abandoned.

Renzo Piano has played an important role in the relation between the port and the city for the last 25 years. His ascendant over the issue is a particularity of this case. In no other port-city has one single architect played such an important role. Besides the Porto Antico development and other relevant architectural projects, his office has also produced several plans for the urban waterfront, including the active port, not just the dismissed areas. The plans have been named “the Affresco”, designed in 2004, and more recently the “Blueprint”. In both we find ideas that have inspired the future port plan. His figure and impact will be analyzed in further detail in the next post as also both mentioned plans.

Affresco plan from Renzo Piano Source: http://www.rpbw.com/
Affresco plan from Renzo Piano
Source: http://www.rpbw.com/