1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy ©RPBW
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Michel Denancé
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Studio Merlo
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Banchero
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Mattia Morgavi
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Gianni Berengo Gardin
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Stefano Goldberg-Publifoto
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Gianni Berengo Gardin
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Luca Bozzano
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Luca Bozzano
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Shunji Ishida
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Gianni Berengo Gardin
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Stefano Goldberg
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy Ph. Emanuela Minetti
1985-1992

Porto Antico

Genoa, Italy

A vast exhibition project that became an urban renewal plan. The 1992 Columbus Celebrations presented itself as a great opportunity to reconnect the long broken ties between the historical centre of Genoa and its old harbour, the Porto Antico. The regeneration project for Piazza Caricamento and the docks comprised a series of plans to renovate several historic port buildings and to build new structures too. These included the Bigo and the Aquarium, which soon become popular landmark destinations bringing visitors to this part of the city.

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A natural progression of previous redevelopment studies for the Porto Antico (which were themselves a continuation of the District Workshop’s experiments with “lightness”), the work carried out under the aegis of the Columbus Celebrations exploited the energy and funding made available for the exhibition to effect permanent improvements to public space and infrastructure in the area.

It was of the utmost importance to the city of Genoa to heal the fractures separating the city from its harbour. The natural relationship between the two adjacent areas had, over time, been broken by a progressive build-up of physical barriers, creating a seemingly insurmountable rift between the city and the sea: from the thick barrier of customs offices and warehouses that had been built in the 1800s to the unsightly pylons holding up the cement ribbon of the motorway built in 1965, that remains an unresolved eyesore looming over the lively Genoa waterfront today.

A partial burying of roads underground for the Columbus Celebrations was a major first step in reinstating an expansive esplanade facing the sea on Piazza Caricamento, a bustling hub where tourists and locals converge. It opens up to the old harbour and the docks.
The extensive plan saw the old buildings and harbour spaces as something akin to a large dismantled factory, a shore-scape with great environmental and symbolic potential. The immediate aim of the project was to set up the installations for the Columbus anniversary exhibition, but it also included a longer-term urban renewal plan, intended to return the area to the citizens of Genoa for them to enjoy. With this in mind, the planners identified several existing buildings that could undergo varying degrees of renovation: these went from the low-key restoration of the historic buildings, to the redesign and reuse of some of the large scale and interesting but less prestigious areas, thinking about the way in people moved through the site and the visual relationships between its various parts. A worthy compromise was agreed which would intertwine the old and the new, memories and innovation, in keeping with the city’s growth. The area proved very flexible and later additions and changes were welcomed: the renovated and reconverted spaces of the old Cotton Warehouse, the Millo and the Customs Warehouse were part and parcel of the conversion of this area into a huge recreation and exhibition space together with the new structures – the Bigo and the Aquarium. Although the latter were highly contemporary constructions, they nonetheless fit in with the atmosphere of the harbour’s setting.

Credits

1985–2001

Re-development of the Genoa Old Harbour
Genova, Italy

Client: City of Genoa + Porto Antico SpA

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects

Phase One (Columbus International Exposition), 1985-92
Design team: S.Ishida (partner), E.Baglietto, G.Bianchi, M.Carroll, O.De Nooyer,
G.Grandi, D.Hart, C.Manfreddo, R.V.Truffelli (architects in charge) with P.Bodega, V.Tolu and A.Arancio, M.Cucinella, G.Fascioli, E.L.Hegerl, M.Mallamaci, G.McMahon, M.Michelotti, A.Pierandrei, F.Pierandrei, S.Smith, R.Venelli, L.Vercelli
and F.Doria, M.Giacomelli, S.Lanzon, B.Merello, M.Nouvion, G.Robotti, A.Savioli; S.D’Atri, S.De Leo, G.Langasco, P.Persia (CAD Operators); D.Lavagna (models).

Consultants: Ove Arup & Partners (structural engineering for the Bigo); L.Mascia/D.Mascia, P.Costa, L.Lembo, V.Nascimbene, B.Ballerini, G.Malcangi, Sidercard, M.Testone, G.F.Visconti (other structures); Manens Intertecnica (building services); STED (cost consultant); D.Commins (acoustics); Scene (stage equipment); P.Castiglioni (lighting); M.Semino (supervisor of historic areas and buildings); Cambridge Seven Associates (aquarium consultant); Cetena (naval engineer); Origoni & Steiner (graphic design); L. Moni (site supervision);

Curator for the Italian Pavilion exhibition: G.Macchi

Wind sculptures: S.Shingu.

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