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Genoa tragedy sparks innovative regeneration

Genoa tragedy sparks innovative regeneration

The collapse of the Morandi bridge will be remembered by much more than well-meaning words

Three years ago, disaster struck in Genoa when the Morandi Bridge collapsed and 43 people lost their lives on 14 August 2018. That date could live in infamy, given that it exposed the dilapidated state of Italian infrastructure in a most tragic way.

The public outcry was vast and the emotional scars deep, so city authorities were quick in trying not only to rebuild but to rebuild in a way that both pays homage to the event and its victims and regenerates the Polcevera river valley area.

Last week, the local administration presented the ‘Memorial 14.8.2018’, which will serve as the starting point for the larger Polcevera Park and Red Circle project, itself conceived back in 2019.

Regeneration born out of collective mourning

For starters, there was the new San Giorgio viaduct, which replaced the Morandi bridge with its inauguration on 3 August 2020. However, it would have been callous to simply replace one bridge with another and carry on as before.

The architect Stefano Boeri won a tender to redesign the industrial area under the bridge into a public space that would actually attract people to spend time there. The project consists of two parts.

The Polcevera Park, which will stretch under the new Genoa San Giorgio Bridge, is made up of green and equipped collective spaces, reminiscent of a large “botanical garden”. The Red Circle is a 1.5-kilometre-long cycling-pedestrian elevated ring that will connect areas now separated from each other. Inside the Polcevera Park space has also been provided for the Green Factory, conceived as a new campus of innovation and research.

The Red Circle, both an element of regeneration of the Polcevera Valley and a reminder of its ancient industrial and port history, has the ambition to become a new urban landmark. Its designers say that it will act as a device for collecting and distributing renewable energy, produced by solar collectors on the roofs of new buildings and from the wind turbines present in the Wind Tower. The tower will also be red (it is the structure standing tall near the Red Circle, as can be seen in the photo gallery).

The 14.08.2018 Memorial

A place of respect and rest, of memory and testimony, the 14.08.2018 Memorial and the neighbouring Argine del Polcevera Gardens were both imagined in collaboration with the relatives of the victims. They will start taking shape near the former Pila 9 of the Morandi Bridge, an emblematic location in light of the tragedy.

The Memorial will consist of both private and collective spaces: the House of Families, dedicated to the families of the victims of the collapse of the Morandi Bridge; the Museum of Memory, a place of remembrance, documentation and public denunciation; the Bioclimatic Greenhouse, a botanical space for regeneration; and the Bar/Meeting Point that will conclude the visitor's journey.

The Gardens are imagined as a sequence of thematic environments that are in constant dialogue with the architecture: a relationship of continuity between interior and exterior. For example, this will happen between the Bioclimatic Greenhouse and the Sea Garden, and between the House of Families and the garden reserved for them.

The Memorial, from which the preparatory works for the park’s realization will start, will be a work that will provide experiences to the people. It will enclose places of remembrance and reflection, botanical spaces and meeting points. It will be an exciting place that will make the memory of what happened everlasting and will constitute a fundamental piece in the construction of the Polcevera Park, a project that will completely redevelop important areas for three municipalities in the city,” declared the mayor of Genoa, Marco Bucci. 

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