May 26, 2016 - Oct 2, 2016


Biennale Architettura 2016 - International Exhibition

Biennale Architettura 2016 - Special Projects  

Forte Marghera (Venezia) / 26.05.2016 - 02.10.2016

"The special project on waterfronts aims to offer a reference point that can be used for reflection on the future of one of the most important and partly dismissed industrial areas in the Country.

It seemed appropriate to carry out the project with reference to experiences already realised or being implemented across other European cities, which can shed further light on alternative scenarios, concrete possibilities and design processes as well as on potential development of other visions for Marghera, compared to those already pursued in other areas.

Creating it in situ also allows for another outcome: getting into the hear of the matters through the participation of those who are most directly interested and who have already studied and considered the most relevant themes."

Paolo Baratta
President of La Biennale di Venezia

The waterfront, once sacrificed for industrial activities and then marginalised and abandoned, represents a unique opportunity to rethink the image of cities, beginning with the rediscovery of their relationship with water. 

"Historically, the presence of industrial waterfronts lining long stretches of coastline has partially deprived port cities of their relationship with the sea, often exacerbating the phenomena of physical and social degradation in the urban areas closest to them.

Over the past thirty years, the transformation of ports following the introduction of container shipping and the subsequent displacement of logistics and port functions from city centres, has created an opportunity to alter the existence of this dividing line, which has an obvious impact on the attractiveness and quality of life of port cities.

The cities where these changes have been most successful share a resilient attitude. Urban forms of organisation have reacted proactively to the profound structural changes that have affected them over the past thirty years. They have reinvented themselves, reinforced with a new diverse character and wide-ranging planning, beginning precisely with the rejuvenation and enhancement of thei relationship with the water that surrounds them."

Stefano Recalcati
Curator of Reporting From Marghera and Other Waterfronts

Schematizing the interpretation give by B.S. Hoyle in "Revitalizing the waterfront", it is possible to identify four key moments in the evolution of port functions and urban areas:

1. SHARING: from its origins until the end of the 19th century, the city and the port constitute a single entity sharing the same urban spaces.

2. SEPARATION: During the 20th century, ports required more space and ever-greater depths to meet renovated production and logistical needs. This lead to the physical sepatation of port functions from urban areas.

3. UNDERUSE: From the sixties to the eighties, original port areas close to the city centre were abandoned because they were unable to fulfil the productive functions required by technological development.

4. REGENERATION: Since the seventies, there began a process of regeneration of abandoned waterfront spaces, which revives cities' relationship to water.


The fundamental elements that enabled the success of the selected projects can be organised into six key factors that are able to frame cities' actions during the regeneration process.

VISION: the foundations for a renewed image of the city as attractive, liveable and sustainable, where regeneration plays a key role

PROCESS: the simplification fo the decision-making and the management of the waterfront transformation

COMMUNITY: the active participation of citizens in the development process conserning design decisions

ENVIRONMENT: the assessment of measures related to environmental mitigation, reclamation, and infrastructural aspects

QUALITY: the architectural design of buildings and public space planned for the urban transformation

INNOVATION: the ambition to achieve advanced solutions with the highest standard of technological implementation.

Credits: All media
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