The area of intervention for the studio project is the arc of urban/industrial waterfront between the port/Expo area and the Fiera where international trade shows are held. This area was generally addressed by Renzo Piano’s affresco (a large scale proposal for the entire metropolitan area of Genoa) in which he articulated a “blue line” to indicate a continuous zone of public space along the city's interface with the port and the sea. Currently only portions of this are accessible, hindered by the steep terrain, the shipyard, and the sopraelevata (elevated highway) and surface roads along the coast.
The initial work for the design studio was to study the structure and qualities of Genoa as a whole with diagrammatic mappings of thematic urban readings. Using these mappings as a design reference, students worked in pairs on one of four sections of the site to propose urban transformations and architectural interventions. Students then coordinated the urban/architectural works on the four sites into three synthetic urban proposals.
- to develop access to the water's edge,
- to define networks of interior and exterior public space,
- to offer a new image of Genoa from the sea.
Looking at the concepts of the "city" and the "machine" led to a conclusion about the two. Although both systems are independent, they work together in order for the city to work as it does.
The urban strategy stems from the desire to connect the city of Genoa with the sea. Looking closely at the city’s fabric, main axis points become apparent and are used in order to create a field that extends onto the entire site. Within this field, two separate systems emerge: one representative of the machine that begins to extend past the edge of the city and one that represents the city and defines this edge.
Each system develops an architectural language that defines it. The system representing machine is larger in scale, responding to the scale of the ship, elevated off the ground and about frame and skin. The other, representing the city, emerges from the ground, is smaller in scale and about solid walls. A hybrid of the two also develops and looks to combine both architectonic systems with an intention to create ambiguity in between. The dividing line between the wall and the frame is no longer obvious....
The aim is to reevaluate the relationship between the city and the water. Being a port city, Genoa’s city life is still very separate from its industrial activities; therefore we seek to bring these two together by extending the urban grid and creating a new city edge.
With this intention we analyzed cruiseliners and how they are basically a city within itself; then when it docks in the port it creates an extension of this life and activity from the land out into the water. This is what we aim to achieve: a superstructure that works as an extension of the city out into the water. Much like Archigram’s various reinterpretations of the city (No-Stop City, Walking City), it becomes a group of multiple components that connect and work together to create a system, or in this case a city.
The structure is to function as an extension of the city; it is to contain housing, commercial space, public space. The particularity lies in continuing your daily life through this structure, not having the notion that you are underwater except at certain moments. The piazza is a public room which functions as well as a market.
This new city edge is created by extending the urban grid out into the water and mirroring it, recreating the same proportions and spatial experiences as the city itself, but reinterpreted through a play of mass and void, solid and transparent. This strategy gives emphasis to the idea of not only bringing the city out into the water, but bringing water into the city as well. These negative and positive spaces become present in the form of buildings, sunken piazzas, bodies of water, etc. The extension becomes a grid of different spaces and typologies that recreate the dynamism of Genoa’s architectural and urban composition.
The project was inspired by the spectacle and every day theme. The students explored theatrical qualities of the city analyzing different types of processions. The St John the Baptist procession was chosen as the oldest Genovese procession starting at San Lorenzo church, going to the port and finishing at San Matteoti. The procession was created through architectural settings, such as facades. The main stops of the procession were piazzas and public spaces and the students used this method to create spaces in their project. Main theatrical spaces of the project are along and within the facades. The openings, thresholds and inside public spaces have multiple functions. The can be commercial on the ground floors and offices/exhibition/residences spaces on the higher floors.
URBAN STRATEGY: By activating the large green spaces near the sea, the pedestrian promenade is extended from Brignole Station, to Piazza Vittoria, to the Tre Caravelle, to Villa Croce, ending at the Fiera the Tre Caravelle and the park of Villa Croce act as new entryways to the sea. The medieval wall is treated, excavated into a tunnel for the park of the Tre Caravelle to extend beyond its current restraints. By Villa Croce, Corso Italia is lowered in altitude, allowing for a large joint between the entrance of Villa Croce, the neighboring streets, and the medieval wall, uninterrupted by vehicular traffic.
ARCHITECTURAL APPROACH: The extension of the urban pathway manifests in two distinct belts. One reacts to the medieval wall and change in elevation, and deals with weight, light, and gravity. It responds to these conditions by suspending a thick layer of stone above a layer of changing terrain a few meters below.... The next belt reacts to the sea, the fiera, and the relationship of a shallow base surrounded by water. The architecture responds to this condition by instilling a frame in which multiple layers of ground levels interact at a more precise, and thin composition.... These two belts can project along the coastline beyond the limitations of the given site, and with this, always compromising their own respective edge with one another.