Waterfront Regeneration of S. Girolamo, Bari

CONCORSO DI PROGETTAZIONE ‘RIQUALIFICAZIONE DEL FRONTE MARE DEL LITORALE DI FESTA – S.GIROLAMO’ BARI

Our proposal was made from the considerations presented in a rigid program, and suggested three project concepts of an equally ethical nature.

A first concept was related to environmental and landscape sustainability. The characteristics of the new Bari sea front should not start out from a merely formal idea. In other words, we wanted to underline our conviction that this coast’s new image should be attained from what is best for the area’s imagery, but also for the exploitation of the sea as a resource.

The second concept was related to social sustainability. The project actions and the funds that make them operational should be committed to the formulation of the sea front in the context of high environmental quality and public spaces, not only devoted to current uses but allowing for potential uses in the future.

The third concept was one of economic sustainability. Recognizing that every intervention need not be totally funded by public money, we would allow an initial investment by the city, involving mostly the infrastructures of pollution control and coastal protection, and a second phase, of private investment, where providers of equipment and services would be able to intervene in the area, under the masterplan and subject to public will. Only then would it be possible to create conditions for agreeable and safe bathing practices, and to acquire catalysing equipment and services, not only related to the seasonal aspect of the beaches, but to stronger and more structuring economic factors of the new place.

Strategically speaking, we would suggest combining the place’s two main vocations: the dynamic character and homogeneity of the elongated city-square; and the possibility of treating the intervened public spaces as a prolongation of the interstitial public spaces present in the adjacent urban fabric. The main novelty of this combination would be a new definition of the beach area – or area destined for bathing practices – which, freed traffic constraints, could be extended to the footing of the buildings themselves. It is important to underline, however, that the widening of the beach area can never become incompatible with the other necessary functions of these systems – traffic, pedestrian and cycling routes, and parking areas – but must encourage a harmonious cohabitation of the diverse elements, in solutions which are greatly homogeneous in their material formalization.

The material formalization was, in fact, one of our strongest convictions: for us it was indispensible to create a continuous image attained through a unifying and markedly urban materiality. By extending itself over the area of intervention like a patchwork quilt this materiality would also function as a structuring matrix of the public spaces, and of any structure we subsequently superimposed.

A planimetric reading of this area would allow the clear definition of its territorial unity, but the key to understanding the great variety of morphological solutions laid in the study of the sections. Effectively, the succession of these sections allowed us to understand the enormous spatial variety, much more complex than the linearity of the space would suggest, leading us to propose suggestions more suitable for the combination of hydraulic protection operations and the city’s actual intention of recovering its beach.

Concerning the social factors, and in accord with well known theories that see the territorial project as an instrument not just for urban requalification in a strict sense, but also for the suggestion of ethical mechanisms of social regeneration, we propose a multifaceted approach.´

The intervention on the maritime front sought to revitalize peripheral urban areas, while including in the urban recovery process, interstitial undefined spaces where marginal phenomena of crime and vandalism had become a real concern. This approach allowed us to understand the urban space as something continuous, a succession of places dedicated to distinct functions and activities. The proposed system should positively contaminate, with varying degrees of will and complexity, all the public or private dead spaces, in a posture of genuine urban requalification.

In this way, the proposal balanced, on one hand, the revitalization of the problematic areas, increasing the frequency and diversity of users at different times, and, on the other, the technical and conceptual redesign of the frontier between public and private. In a general way, the proposal we presented for this competition, displayed an excellent opportunity to redefine the relationship between coast and public space with a consolidated urban fabric and constructed volumes. We believe that the ideas presented overstep the conceptual boundaries between city and beach, defining new spaces by fusing together these two logics on the urban coastlines.

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