A “new Genoa” is taking shape. Chosen by UNESCO as one of the best renewal projects launched in 2020 anywhere in the world, in terms of image and substance the “Polcevera Park and the Red Circle” Masterplan is one of the most evident symbols of the process.
The challenge: to transform a place marked by tragedy – the Morandi Bridge collapse in 2018 – into a break from the past and an engine of change. The aim is to use the ecological transition to heal a wound in the city. The area most involved will be the one be-low the new Genoa Saint George Bridge, designed by Renzo Piano.
The project, designed by architect Stefano Boeri in partnership with Andrea Boschetti’s Metrogramma di and Petra Blaisse’s Inside Outside studio in the Netherlands, is composed of a system of parks, infrastructure for sustainable mobility and intelligent buildings for R&D and manufacturing.
Squeezed between railway lines and hills, the Valle del Polcevera has always been an area devoid of unequivocal urban planning, a mosaic of different fringe realities functional for road mobility, where industrial buildings are interspersed with isolated residential zones.
The aim is to join the two banks of the River Polcevera and give the city a new space on a human scale where citizens will be able to cycle, practice sport, exercise and relax.
The Polcevera Park will become a new centre, and the quarter itself, seen as a living community of relation and exchange, will be reborn around it. The aim is to epitomize an ambitious vision of Genoa by changing the physiognomy of a vast and important area of the city.
The landmark of the project will be the steel Red Circle, an elevated walkway-cum-cycle path that will embrace the two banks of the River Polcevera. It will measure 1,570 metres in length and 6 metres in width with a radius of 250 metres, and will dominate a system of parks with an area of 23 hectares. The Red Circle will be a walkway and cycle path rolled into one – partly suspended, partly underground – integrated with a botanical park that will connect the various areas. The structure is conceived as part of a network of sustainable mobility developed in collaboration with MIC | Mobility in Chain, which will join cycle and pedestrian paths, smart mobility lanes, shared surfaces and smart parking areas. The cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, the urban landmark and the network of the Park pathways will connect all the green areas. The whole Park will represent not only an attractive experience for everyone – citizens, sports enthusiasts and nature lovers – but also an efficient urban and social connector.
The Valle del Polcevera will become a pole of attraction for all citizens of Genoa and visitors by re-establishing a seamless relationship between this suburban district and the city. The area has the wherewithal to become a “green lung”, characterized by a very high biodiversity of living species interlaced with a regenerated urban fabric. The site was designed by Inside Outside and will be constructed in conjunction with the agronomist and landscape gardener Laura Gatti and the geologist Secondo Antonio Accotto. Plants, shrubs and trees will create small ecosystems: hence gardens open to citizens with jeaux d’eau, sports facilities and wellness areas that blend into each other. The project comprises a Conservatory of Mediterranean Biodiversity, a synthesis of the great variety of local flora and fauna.
The gardens will also feature a “monument” to the 43 victims of the Morandi Bridge tragedy with 43 different tree species typical of the Mediterranean.
The omnipresent “green” theme comes to the fore in a high-tech water and energy management project. The new area will be 100% carbon neutral thanks to an energy supply system fuelled solely by renewable sources. Gardens, paths and piazzas will all be planted with trees, shrubs, grass and perennials to manage rain and wastewater as well as possible, while surplus water will be used for other purposes such as irrigation. Dominating the sustainable mobility network connecting the various areas will be the 120-metre-high Torre del Vento, or wind tower, whose wind turbines will supply the quarter with energy. The whole area, from the Red Circle to the roofs of buildings and piezometric paving, is de facto designed as an energy network. The park system will restore the original permeability of the soil by removing paving and replacing it with vegetation, sports and recreation areas, and community gardens. The rebirth of this area will thus be accompanied by a general improvement in quality, climatic, environmental, acoustic and social.
The first stage in the development of the project will be dedicated to the “Bridge Park” below the autostrada and the new Genoa Saint George Bridge and will be divided into five sub-areas of intervention.
The Polcevera Park will comprise numerous areas for outdoor recreational activities such as events, sport and wellness, the Campus and the Riverfront West, an urban park and public space, the Riverfront East with Memorial commemorating the victims of the Ponte Morandi tragedy and the Sea Park, the Via Porro quarter and Via Fillak with the Clearing of Memory and the Nora Park, where improvements will be made to the wood-land.
First-phase works are already underway. An initial provisional part – the clearing of memory integrated with the info point – has already been completed, while the recreational area is close to completion.
Total investment: 174 million euros.