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Competition: Blueprint for Genoa, Italy


The City of Genoa has announced an international competition to overhaul its disused Trade Fair site overlooking the Mediterranean Sea (Deadline: 15 December)

Backed by the expo’s original architect Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), the competition seeks proposals to repair and transform the prominent 75,000m² site (pictured).

The estimated €200 million project is the first phase in RPBW’s pro-bono Blueprint for Genoa covering the wider area between Porta Siberia and Punta Vagno.

According to the brief: ‘The competition, based on the Blueprint for Genoa, is intended as the instrument to deal with the issue of the urban voids. The urban void of the former Genoa trade fair is one of the most fragile parts of the city.

‘The competition will design spaces capable of generating places that offer opportunities for people to come together, share values, and celebrate the rituals of what is significantly called “urbanity”.’

Renzo Piano’s vision for the nearby 6ha Expo 92 site – themed Christopher Columbus, The Ship and the Sea – transformed the historic city’s old port into a new conference centre, aquarium and marina.

The latest vision by the architect, who was born in Genoa 78 years ago, proposes a new shipping canal connecting the industrial Porta Siberia to the Trade Fair site’s circular Sports Complex.



Blueprint for Genoa

Proposals for the now disused Trade Fair site should deliver around 60,000m² of development around new waterways. Key buildings such as Jean Nouvel’s 30,000m2 Blue Pavilion and the circular Sports Complex will be retained.

The Trade Fair’s ticket office, pavilion C, pavilion D, pavilion M, the former Ansaldo ­Nira building and a 500m  road overpass will, however, be demolished.

Concepts should be at least 60 per cent residential with the remaining spaces divided between artisanal light-industrial spaces, hospitality facilities and commercial offices. They must also include a 20,000m² underground carpark and around 15,000m² of space dedicated to sports and sailing.

The competition is organised by SPIM Genova, a public company which manages around €300 million worth of property for the city and has completed approximately €500 million worth of land disposals.

Submissions should include six A0 boards featuring scale drawings covering plans, sections and elevations. A separate 20-side A3 document should feature a written description of the concept alongside a business case.

The judging panel will include two architects or engineers chosen by RPBW and the Italian National Council of Architects plus an internationally renowned architectural scholar, an expert in urban planning and design, and an expert in financial assessments of urban development projects.

The winner is set to be announced on 31 January, and will receive around €75,000 and see its proposal taken forward by the city. Three further prize-winning teams will also receive approximately €15,000 each.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 15 December

Contact details

SPIM Genova
Via di Francia 1


Visit the competition website for more information

Larnaca Port case study: Q&A with Jonathan Hill and Neil MacOmish

The chair and group board director of Scott Brownrigg discuss lessons learned redesigning Larnaca Port in Cyprus

How does the concept design for Larnaca’s new port improve the existing marina?

Scott Brownrigg’s design for The Waterfront at Larnaca sought to reinvigorate the ancient Byzantine city by transforming it into a major cruise and marina destination, with a public waterfront environment rivalling the best the world has to offer. The design created a rich new architecture, with proposals that formed an axis from the old castle, along the beachfront, to a new concert hall and extensive waterfront park. The development is seen as an extension of the city centre, and includes a wide variety of uses, encompassing iconic, gateway residential towers in stacked shifting plates, with deep recessed banding inspired by the seamed limestone shore front of the island, retail, hotel, public buildings and urban park.



Larnaca waterfront regeneration by Scott Brownrigg

What considerations are important when creating housing, commercial and marina facilities in disused waterfront settings?

An overall vision for the transformation of disused waterfront settings is essential. This vision has to be agreed politically, understood at local level and involves a considerable amount of consultation with many interested parties. Belief in a future that transforms the status quo enables a place that delights to be created and provides economic regeneration needs with new housing, commercial and marina facilities for it to be viable.

The transformation of the tidal mud flats in Cardiff Bay into an exciting, vibrant and popular location, demonstrates what can be achieved. The key design driver is to maximise the engagement with the water frontage and public realm/activity spaces – even to ensure that the organisation of places, routes and vistas penetrates the depth of any development to the heart of the development. In this way, property and functions that are placed away from the water’s edge still attract maximum values by having glimpses of their waterfront location, creating both spatial and commercial legibility.

Scott Brownrigg has designed a number of projects within the Bay, including an International Sports Village, housing, offices and also proposed a new Science Centre. Similarly, they have had an involvement in designing at Portishead Quay, near Bristol, now completed, and Centenary Quay near Southampton, which is now on site and regenerating the waterfront with residential-led mixed-use housing.



Scott Brownrigg’s Cardiff Bay project

How would you set about designing a high-quality redevelopment of Genoa’s Trade Fair site?

The ‘Blueprint’ sets out a vision that is supported. To participate in this competition, entrants should immerse themselves within the city and understand the opportunities and constraints for themselves. There is the opportunity to deliver a design that respects the city of Genoa, integrates its heritage and increases connection with the waterfront to provide employment, living accommodation and a place that has high recreational value for residents and visitors to the city.

The site is extremely large, so there is a real and exciting opportunity for ‘place-making’, with areas that have a variety of characters and spaces, while also being linked by the waterfront. There is the opportunity to ensure the design is of its place, of the highest quality and pushes boundaries to deliver projects which become landmark attractions within their own right. The critical analysis that explores and develops the essential ‘genius loci’ of the specific sense of place and the layered history of the city, makes the most meaningful response to the cultural and social history of the site, as well as ensuring relevance to the community that it serves.



Larnaca waterfront regeneration by Scott Brownrigg