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BORN AGAIN GENOA AS AN URBAN POLYCENTRIC CITY


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Genoa is made up of three components; the mountains, the city and the sea. It is home to the largest sea port in Italy and has a rich cultural history, however, it still struggles to attract inhabitants and tourists. Genoa has all the fundamentals to make it a thriving city, yet districts are unidentifiable and boundaries lie unclear in the divided city. Based on the concept of a polycentric city, locales are established with a definitive characteristic. By implementing a dose of hyper-reality, each district is enhanced and exaggerated in order to make it a recognisable destination.


IMPACT IMPLEMENT

CONCEPT

CONTEXT


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CONTEXT

Polycentric Cities Routes & Districts Programme of Districts Characteristics

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CONCEPT

Masterplan The Hedonist The Fantasist The Interaction The Escape

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Future of the City Sustainability Cost Analysis

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IMPACT

Genoa; The City Analysis Land Use Barriers Approaches Cultural Disconnections


CONTEXT


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CONTEXT

ITALY

LIGURIA

Genoa, the capital of Liguria, is situated in the northwest of Italy ranked as the countries sixth largest city. The medieval urban fabric is woven together by the booming industrial port of the past and the contemporary lifestyle of modern day infrastructure. Enclosed to the north by an amphitheatre of hills, Genoa can only look forward towards the sea. At a crossroads for trade and cultural exchanges, the city has been relegated to the margins of Genoa, generating conflict and ambiguity between the shore and the urban fabric.

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1776 1912

Between the 19th and 20th centuries the city expanded greatly in terms of its urban physical context. Consequently, the population doubled in the 1960’s, however, by the 1980’s the city lost its position as a great industrial port.

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ANALYSIS

CONTEXT

Genoa is the sixth largest city in Italy and has a population of 588,688 people. The average age is 47.9, with more than 25% of the population being over 65. The University of Genoa is host to 40,000 students.

Genoa has the largest seaport in Italy, after cargo traffic, passenger traffic is the most popular form of port activity. The city is both a city break and a cruise destination all year round, with people tending to stay an average of 2.5 days and usually over the weekend.

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The breakdown of the city leads to a mix of building typology and uses, with the port being the hub of industry and cultural destinations focused in the old town of Genoa. With Renzo Piano’s waterfront development in 1992, his masterplan increased the amount of tourist and culture points on the port, blurring the characteristics of the city. The tightly woven streets of the historic quarter all lead to the water, with little breathing space or green areas allowing respite from the urban fabric.

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LAND USE

CONTEXT


Through the centuries with the increase in the technology of transportation, the city has created physical and social barriers through its urban genetics. Highlighting the barriers creates a matrix of end points, which halts the urban wanderer. The transport network cuts the city between the land and port by its elevated highway which winds around the lands edge.

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BARRIERS

CONTEXT

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The approaches to the centre of Genoa all escalate from the main highway, creating level changes at certain junctions. The penetration of roads are non-existent in the historic town, allowing pedestrians to reign the streets. The roads around Piazza De Ferrari are busy, consequently distracting from the architecture surrounding. The regenerated waterfront acts as a segregated peninsula, hard to navigate to with no clear direction or end destination.

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APPROACHES

CONTEXT

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After the decline of the port industry, Genoa’s economy took a downfall, which lead to the city regeneration. Architects such as Renzo Piano saw culture as the next economic driver, to build on its strength as a tourist destination. The city houses numerous cultural activities, with focuses on Piazza De Ferrari and the regenerated waterfront. However, the disjointness of the city is shown when analysing the cultural zones of the city, as blurred characteristics appear with no real link to each place. The cultural disconnection forces people to only tip their toes into what Genoa has to offer.

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CULTURAL DISCONNECTIONS

CONTEXT

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CONTEXT

‘Its industry has been relegated to the margins of Genoa, generating conflict and ambiguity between the shore and the urban fabric.’ 20


‘The main challenge for Genoa is to fight decay in all its forms physically, socially, and economically.’

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The Genoese mountains are a breath-taking backdrop, under-utilized with little reason to reach the peaks.

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CONTEXT

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CONCEPT


POLYCENTRIC CITIES Polycentrism is where a city has no single centre, but several. By looking at the urban form of the city, different centres are discovered which attract amenities and interactions with an altered context of each node. As with any city, Genoa can monopolise on this allowing a collection of intensified areas and have morphological dimension through the urban environment. Polycentrism is the principle of organisation of a region around several centres. It is understood as the attitude and openness towards other cultures, opinions and ways of life. The journey through the periphery of Genoa starts from this very notion: that is the physical recognition of its urban nuclei; the social identity of its inhabitants; the different and distinct histories of each one of its “peripheral’ centres. In the past Genoa was described by the metaphor of “divided city’ and instead of seeing this as a negative, the masterplan should build on this through the renewing, rediscovering, re-branding and repositioning of the city.

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CONCEPT

Looking at existing polycentric cities at a city-level across the globe, Barcelona has benefited from nucleus centres dotted around the city, housing cultural and tourist nodes which acts as an anchor to transport links. Each centre has different contexts, from the religious mega structure Sagrada Familia which holds a destination and fascination, to the Gothic Quarter that allows users to delve into its historical context. Each centre creates a different context, allowing people to magnetise around the node most suited to the individual.

The connection between each node should be identifiable making the city feel joined and well anchored. Comparing the polycentric ideology to Liverpool, the urban spaces have pulling centres which are found to be spread evenly across the city. The easy pedestrian routes and transport links through Liverpool enable a thriving city without too many barriers interfering.

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CONCEPT

ROUTES & DISTRICTS

After researching into polycentric cities and studying the existing urban fabric of Genoa, the urban design proposal will focus on several areas which stretch from the port, into the mountains. The areas will be defined by a series of nodes or mini centres, which are highlighted in orange. Red circles signify transport nodes, and the green draw attention to surrounding tourist and cultural attractions. Also demonstrated are the main routes which can be taken to and from each of the nodes. The nodes were selected due to the spaces degenerating and urbanely unsuccessful, but had the potential to offer so much more to Genoa.

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CONCEPT


CONCEPT

PROGRAMME OF DISTRICTS

Many cities are now use theming as a technique to promote the city and to attract visitors. In order for the nodes to be successfully regenerated, they must stand alone as a specific area within the city. By giving each node a unique and definitive characteristic, the areas can be enhanced and exaggerated based on their theme. By creating a sense of hyper-reality throughout each district, the spaces can be reinvented and rebranded, thus; Born Again Genoa. The diagram opposite examines each node and its site in terms of its disposition, physicality and its activity.

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CONCEPT

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CONCEPT


Overall Genoa is a city full of potential, however a blurred sense of purpose fills pockets of the urban fabric, under-utilized and unloved. After studying the existing urban fabric, the focus is on several areas which stretch from the port into the mountains. The areas will be defined by a series of nodes or mini centres. Four nodes have been identified with different characteristics but are currently lacking atmosphere, a sense of place and an aesthetic of urbanism. Building on the characteristics of each area can allow for a heightened sense of illusion of each loci, creating an overstimulated reality of the node.

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CONCEPT

THE HEDONIST Through an over-dose of hyper-real, the waterfront resort would provide unlimited means of temporary release as the antidote to the frantic urban life-style. The luxury is for the elite; the narcissistic man, the hyper-rich. The accumulation of wealth, escaping society to compete for status. Genoa will be the partnering city to Monte Carlo, the Mecca for mega-yachts, housing floating villas and mobile palaces. The waterfront will house a culture where physical wealth is important, with member’s only casinos, helicopter pads and private jet runways.

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CONCEPT

THE FANTASIST Between the sky and the sea, the cruise is a non-contextual escape, creating a moving fantasy mass of land. Cruise passengers are kidnapped from their context and transported to a mythical floating island. The terminal is the connection between land and sea, creating a resting place for wanderers, allowing travellers to retire to rest and contemplate on ground before boarding the great vessels of the sea.

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CONCEPT

THE INTERACTION The neighbourhood of Genoa is integral to the old town; the tight streets replicate the tight community, which is housed behind the waterfront, crossing the highway barrier that has arrested its progress. San Giorgio metro station is an anchor point for city, the freedom of movement allows for a connectivity node positioned between the water and the dense compact old town. A city’s streets, parks, market squares, and community hubs have been seen as symbols of collective well-being and possibility for the neighbourhood.

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CONCEPT

THE ESCAPE Genoa’s landscape ranges from the flat to the mountainous, from the wild to the placid. The winding streets of ancient Genoa all lead in one direction, ascending to the mountains, escaping the city. The green desert ahead, sprawled across the Apennine terrain, awaiting the search for the tranquil retreat or outdoor activism. The journey from Righi to the re-discovery of the many fortresses that speckled its 17th-century walls, allows views across the valley of Liguria with its undulating outlines and picturesque scenery.

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IMPLEMENT


MASTERPLAN The proposal for Genoa focusses on four specific districts; The Hedonistic, The Fantasist, The Interaction and The Escape; the names for these were derived from the existing context in these areas. The Hedonistic characteristic was attained due to its geographical location on the waters edge, together with its social engagement of wealthy clientele. Due to its functional context, The Fantasist is situated at the ferry terminal and specifically targets the tourist. The Interaction was conceived firstly because of its historical, cultural and physical context, and secondly because of its functional context as an important transport node. And finally, The Escape materialised first and foremost as a result of its topographical context. Each of the four districts in the urban design proposal are rooted with both a temporal and hyper-real context, all intended to be some form of temporary release or escape for different types of people.

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THE HEDONIST


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DESIGN PROCESS

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The waterfront was quite recently redeveloped by Renzo Piano in 1992, however it is still struggling with issues of cars parked haphazardly everywhere. The area provides perfect views from the port looking back towards the mountains, however, no one would realise this as the route to the edge of the regenerated waterfront is hard to navigate with no sense of destination in mind. The waterfront is used as a resting place for yachts, and so, it has the potential to serve a rich clientele, with this in mind we wanted to take this area to the extreme and target it towards the super rich.

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This node is for the self indulgent, a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life, and someone who is satisfied by spending an extortionate amount of money. Aimed towards the upper class, this area features a monumental tower that exudes affluence, home to a panoramic restaurant and bar with fine dining, casino, luxury hotel, serviced apartments, penthouses, spa’s and internal golf course. Its neighbouring building, the fashion hub of Genoa incorporates an ostentatious shopping mall and catwalk, together with a race track located on the roof of the building for the super rich to race their super cars.

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View towards the regenerated waterfront, with the destination within reach

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THE FANTASIST


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DESIGN PROCESS

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The grandeur of arriving in Genoa on board a luxurious cruise ship is soon brought to an end once leaving the vessel, tourists are immediately met with a busy raised highway which disrupts the view of the city and surrounding mountains. This area, which is centrally located in the port, has the potential to show tourists views and landmarks all around the city, however, the existing building on the site does not take advantage of this and is instead giving a negative impression of Genoa.

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In order to entice the tourist and encourage them to leave the cruise ship and explore what Genoa has to offer, this area requires some sort of statement building. The proposal for this is a new cruise terminal which is designed based on the theme of a fantasy land. The rooftop of the building will provide views across the city and highlight specific landmarks, detracting the attention from the unsightly highway. This node is targeted towards tourists in particular, these tourists may vary from families, couples or groups of friends of all ages.

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The garden rooftops of the new cruise liner terminal

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Fantasy island of Genoa, rediscovering land after sailing around the non-contexual ocean

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THE INTERACTION


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DESIGN PROCESS

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Potentially one of the most problematic areas in Genoa, the busy and unsightly highway disjoints the historical old town from the newly revived port. The well defined path from the old town is lost upon reaching San Giorgio metro station and there is no clear or straight route through to the new port because of an existing building that stands on the main arterial route. Things seem to disperse in this area when it could be a strong central focus.

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This area is for those who like to interact and engage with other people which is symbolic of the interaction between the old town and the new port. With San Giorgio metro station acting as the anchor for this node, it becomes a destination instead of a place that was just passed through. The permanent market structure gives opportunity to the local trade and the community centre would be a social hub for the local community.

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IMPLEMENT

The new market square, alive with interactions and break-out green space

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THE ESCAPE


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DESIGN PROCESS 72


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Upon arrival at Righi funicular station, the explorer may be disappointed to find a lack of entertainment amongst the green desert. The natural beauty of the mountains may be enough for some, however, there are no restaurants or bars where people can sit and enjoy the view. The mountains are home to a number of ancient forts which hold so much of Genoa’s history, yet they lie derelict and abandoned.

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This district provides people with the opportunity to break free from the confinement and everyday life of urban living. It is a place of retreat for both tourists and the locals to explore and enjoy. By providing a range of different activities for example; an outdoor centre, spa resort, bars and restaurants, Righi would put itself back on the map and become more of a destination and place to go. This would allow the rediscovering and exploration of the forgotten forts which could become a tourist attraction.

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The mountainous escape, the search for solitude

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The proposed cable cart, transporting visitors to the re-discovered forts

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IMPLEMENT

A hyper-real section through the city of Genoa, highlighting the intensified nodes

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IMPACT


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IMPACT


FUTURE OF THE CITY The urban design proposal targets four specific nodes in Genoa, however, in terms of future development there are several other mini centres which already exist across the city which could be developed and enhanced in the same way. The Hedonist, Fantasist and Escape are more focussed on drawing in tourism, which is an initial requirement in order to increase the local economy. The Interaction aims to give back to the community, and similarly, future prospects include the business and educational sectors which could be funded by revenue from tourism. Once the nodes have been given a definitive characteristic, they can be magnified so that they become a known destination, for example; Canary Wharf in London is an identifiable business district. This method of urban regeneration could be used across Europe or even globally for cities that have exceeded the limits of their natural urban growth. This approach aims not to demolish and carelessly rebuild, but to intensify a cities culture, history and context by renewing, re-branding, rediscovering and repositioning it.

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SUSTAINABILITY Environmental Air pollution is probably one of the most prominent issues in Genoa because of its vast and busy road network which produces significant carbon emissions. Although the urban design proposal doesn’t tackle this issue or aim to reduce traffic, it should not make the problem any worse. The Hedonist and Fantasist developments rely on different modes of transport to inhabit their space, the Interaction is aimed towards local people who are within walking distance of the site, and the Escape aims to draw people to the edge of the city where traffic is not a problematic issue. Due to the characteristics of certain areas of the urban design proposal, some structures may have a negative impact on the environment in terms of their materials or construction. However, ‘The Escape’ can be executed sympathetically amongst its surroundings, using locally sourced materials and trying to avoid any deforestation or destruction of wildlife habitats. Social

IMPACT

The social sustainability of a city depends on the success of its ‘soft infrastructure’, this term refers to the elements that are put in place to play a part in social well-being, for example; health, education, social services, recreation and culture. This soft infrastructure is just as important as the physical hard infrastructure, urban design should aim to enhance social interaction and participation as well as its aesthetic appearance. A community doesn’t just amount to its physical form, it comprises of people as well as the spaces in which they live, and so; in order for a city to be sustainable, its physical and social design must be integrated. This urban design proposal focuses specifically on the human needs of different personality types, some of which are aimed more towards social interaction than others, but each fulfilling a human desire, whether this be interaction or escape. Due to its polycentric design, the proposals development dispenses benefits to various parts of the city in an equitable manner, as opposed to being solely focused on one area of the city. It also preserves the culture heritage of the city, strengthening the communities sense of connectivity to its history.

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Cultural Genoa has a rich cultural history in art, music and cuisine, which is exhibited across the city. Future urban development which enables positive changes in culture can lead to developments of tourism in a city. In the urban design proposal, each node promotes a different type of culture and activity which is site specific. ‘The Interaction’ proposal is a good example of how positive changes can be made to enhance the culture of the local community, which is strengthened by providing a resource centre for new opportunities, and a permanent structure for the local markets that will allow local culture to prosper. Economic One of the principle motivations for a city to re-brand itself as a tourism destination is the significant economic benefits which can consequently be generated, tourism is “the world’s number one export earner.” On many cruise ships, guests are encouraged to spend most of their time and money on board. However, by providing a destination immediately on shore, guests are coaxed off the ship to invest their time and money into Genoa, in turn, improving the local economy. By imposing taxes on goods and services that are supplied to the tourists, the local government can profit. Tourism can bring both positives and negatives to a city, along with improving income and the standard of living, it provides a considerable amount of jobs through hotels, restaurants and souvenir sales. Negative impacts on the locals include price peaks and a rise in land values, however, the long term benefits outweigh the negatives as tourism can prompt the local government to improve existing infrastructure; better water, sewage systems, roads, public transport networks and electricity would improve the quality of life for the local residents.

IMPACT

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COST ANALYSIS

IMPACT

The late twentieth century has seen a shift in the structure of western capitalist economies, with the industrial restructuring and global recession crisis. The economic state of cities such as Genoa has challenged the urban centre to regain a new identity in its role in the Italian economic and social system. The main challenge has been to fight decay in all its forms - physical, social, and economic - reversing a tendency and promoting actions that have had some positive effects. The cost implications of Born Again Genoa are outweighed by its influence on its radical transformation of the tourist and cultural aspects of the city, allowing the urban spaces to become ever more multi-cultural and multi-dimensional, creating a city full of potential and opportunity.

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The Hedonist This node will require a large amount of investment with capital investors and individual sponsorships from the elite using the area. The hotel and casino will be built by a well-known chain of luxury hoteliers, which furthermore attracts the rest of the regeneration of the site to take place. The wealth of this area will increase dramatically, ploughing millions of Euros into Genoa’s economy. With the elite comes the service they require, creating hundreds of jobs in the hospitality sector. The Fantasist For the wanderers of the world, the main source of this node’s income is the tourist sector. The rise in tourists to Genoa with the new cruise liner and intensified nodes allows visitors to explore more of the city, increasing in the economics of tourism and leisure activities. In a fiercely competitive market of Mediterranean tourist destinations, putting Genoa on the map will improve the cities international positioning as well as improving the environment from an industrial past. The Interaction Currently the social and economic growth of Genoa is at a standstill, with little attraction for inhabitants to stay in the city. The percentage of working adults is decreasing rapidly, with the older generation taking lead in the demographics. Intensifying the place between the regenerated waterfront and the historic old town creates an interaction between the city dwellers and the tourists in search of authentic culture. The investment here would allow for smaller businesses to flourish, creating a balanced market of corporate and independent investors.

IMPACT

The Escape Currently the mountains on the edge of the city are under-utilized, generating little income for the city. Although we do not want to spoil the serene and solitude state of the Apennine peaks, allowing for movement through the mountains and for well-placed architecture and master planning, would enable tourists and inhabitants to discover Genoa’s hidden gem. Creating a destination at the top of Righi will ascend the people, adding economic growth for the current businesses ran here.

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REFERENCES

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Lauren O’Donnell // Samantha Boner MArch Urban Design Project


Urban Design Report