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CODE 95274
ACADEMIC YEAR 2023/2024
CREDITS
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR ICAR/14
LANGUAGE Italian
TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
SEMESTER 2° Semester
TEACHING MATERIALS AULAWEB

OVERVIEW

SOLID WATER. Port Dams as Land-Sea Architectures and Settlements 

Architectural approaches to port infrastructures – such as piers, docks, platforms and seawalls – are historically characterized by a land-centered perspective. For centuries, the space of the sea has been understood on the one hand as an empty place, on the other as a politically reclaimable surface to occupy, a solid dryland. Looking at the sea as an environment affected by urbanization, activates a reversal of this common idea, leading to a vision able to re-signify the transformation of the liquid environment and its main settlements and architectures.
The course “SOLID WATER. Port Dams as Land-Sea Architectures and Settlements” adopts as a case study/application the most extreme infrastructures related to the operation of coastlines and ports - i.e. port dams - large offshore architectures of an operational nature built in the open sea, in the absence (or almost) of ground.

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The course will develop in the students a broad design ability to address coastal and port city topics, as well as environmental issues in an integrated matter with issues of public space through an urban/architectural proposal that can adapt to changing conditions.
The students will develop the ability to think and work logically and sequentially to develop a hierarchical strategy (from schematic to developed, from permanent structure to, eventually, ephemeral elements) and over a range of time.
The students will develop the ability to work in a multicultural and interdisciplinary team to learn to communicate and collaborate within a design team, integrating the knowledge and viewpoints of others from other fields of expertise. They will be able to build up an extensive body of literature and project references on the subject of coastal areas and port cities.
The language of instruction is English, so the improvement of communication skills in English and developing a disciplinary vocabulary will be stressed.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

After the previous course “Port-City Architectures. Inclusive and Hybrid Approaches for Land-Sea Settlements” (a.y. 2022/2023), this year course, titled “SOLID WATER. Port Dams as Land-Sea Architectures and Settlements”, proposes hybrid and inclusive solutions for contemporary port dams based on the following goals: - dealing with urban/architectural design in an inhabited/developed coastal context; - confronting the relationship between the built environment and the sea; - addressing coastal environmental issues, as well as issues of adaptability over time; - tackling climate change, aspects of temporariness, seasonality and impermanence of marine settlements and social/cultural living patterns.

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to: - develop a decision-making design process based on forming options and making justifiable choices; - develop design proposals that permit and encourage adaptation and transformation with contextual changes (human, climatic, etc.); - develop different scenarios for completing the schematic architecture over short and long periods of time, with degrees of the permanent, temporary and ephemeral; - build up an extensive body of literature and project references on the subject of coastal areas and port cities; - learn new ways to work with modeling software and minimal rendering; - communicate more effectively in spoken English.

PREREQUISITES

The student is required to have: - basic knowledge or sense of architecture in an urban environment, especially public place making; - basic knowledge about the condition of coastal areas and port cities; - good ability with modeling software (Sketchup); - good ability in Autocad or VectorWorks; - good ability with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Indesign; - skill and interest in the realisation of physical models; - previous understanding of design and environmental issues is useful; - capacity to communicate and interest in improving presentation skills in spoken English.

TEACHING METHODS

The course will be based on an exercise aimed at the elaboration of an architectural and urban project. The drafting of design ideas, drawings, graphics and physical models will determine the overall exam grade. The methodology of collecting data, diagrams, site drawings, photographs and models through publications (in books, magazines, scientific journals, web) will be very important. Gathering information, generating design proposals/options/schematics, and making justifiable choices from initial scheme to final development will be a process repeated throughout the semester.

Students will work individually.

Exercises will be accompanied by weekly collective screen and/or print reviews.

Lectures given by the professors or by external guests of international standing and expert in the course topics will provide bibliographical and design support for the work of the students.

It is planned to undertake a Site Visit to port areas of Genoa to make direct contact with the port context, its geometries, proportions and relationships with the marine and built environment of the coast.

The exercise, illustrated below, will be divided into two different parts. The first for the development of the project will lead to the drafting of 3 vertical A1 panels (59.4 cm x 84.1 cm). The second will involve the development of a physical model on an architectural scale (1:200 or 1:100) representing the project.


The exercise

Context, Concept, Vision
Each student will select a specific port dam in a contemporary context (an existing port dam in its current state). The work will consist of analyzing the dam and the context in which it is set, the spatial and volumetric configurations useful for protection and navigation, its technical dimensions, the particular technologies, materials or devices integrated into the infrastructure. On the basis of the analysis, each student will have to incorporate one or more urban activities of a public nature (N.B. not housing) on the structure of the dam by making plastic and morphological additions, demolitions, replacements to its volume, while not compromising its functionality as protective breakwaters, and working on accessibility, safety and visual impact to and from the sea. Particular attention should be paid to issues such as temporariness, seasonality, climate, human and non-human flows and the variability of marine ecosystems. The theme of construction on water, often in the open sea in extreme conditions, has to be tackled as a primary factor of the project and not as a limit.
Projects will either take the form of individual architectures or larger settlements, expressing the phenomena of differentiation, plurality and imbalance characteristic of the land-sea border. The public functions to be included and through which to modulate projects could range from marine recreation centres, pilot towers, fishing-related centres or water and pollution control and management establishments, low impact industries, wind parks but also bathing facilities, promenades, open-air swimming pools, performance or concert areas, etc.
The combination of functions will be proposed by the students and agreed with the professors. The project exploits the extreme character of the dam to experiment with inclusive design solutions: its aim will be not only to make the functions coexist, paying attention to their respective needs and requirements, but to elaborate a distinct new architectural-infrastructural  device in which the port and urban character hybridize.
Each student will have to set up a progressive design process according to three connected steps: Context (relations with the surrounding environment, contrasts, links, heights), Concept (main design idea communicated through diagrams or synthetic diagrams), Vision (architectural drawings and visual representations of the intervention). Each step will correspond to an A1 panel.
Particular attention will be devoted to the study and definition of development phases in which the designed architecture and its context evolve progressively and are able to be transformed to meet new conditions and uses. Students will form a sequence of alternative scenarios, potentially mid- to long-term duration.

Model
In parallel with architectural drawings, diagrams and visions, the project has to be represented also through a physical model (1:200 or 1:100). This work will have to communicate the developed design choices in a synthetic and volumetric way, representing both the relationship of the architecture or settlement with the context, and its coexistence, integration or divergence with the dam of which it becomes part.

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

Architectural and urban approaches to the comprehension of port infrastructures – such as piers, commercial docks, technical platforms and seawalls – are historically characterized by a land-centered perspective. For centuries, the space of the sea has been understood on the one hand as a desert, an empty place, on the other as a politically reclaimable surface to occupy, like a stable and solid dryland.
As Nancy Couling has stated in 2015, «almost no part of the global ocean remains unaffected by human impact. The ocean is therefore a site of spatial and environmental convergence […]». In addition to providing food, energy and transport routes, the sea is also an extremely rich spatial resource for urban services. At the same time, Couling continues, the urban element, traditionally linked to the land, is becoming increasingly porous and complex. As a result of these processes, the ocean requires the development of unconventional methods for its description and development: alternative perspectives «[…] which draw the ocean in as an active participant to urbanization processes». (2015) Looking at the sea today as an uninterrupted environment affected by urbanization, hence, activates a reversal of this common idea, leading to embrace a vision able to re-signify the transformation of the liquid environment and its main operational settlements and architectures.

The course takes as its case study and application the most extreme infrastructures related to the functioning of operational coastlines and ports, the port dams, i.e. the massive walls that, positioned off the coast in the open sea, protect land from being covered or damaged by the sea or defend a port from the action of powerful waves.
Built in ports all over the world since at least the 18th century, port dams are exceptional architectures stretching between land and sea and submerged in depth in a vertical relationship with the water element. As solid water components, they are part of the port-city architecture system that constitutes a catalogue of recurring and analogous artifacts, an exclusive field of narrative and architectural design of port spaces. Their geometries respond, like any port device, to operational rules imposed in this case by maritime engineering, hydraulics and navigation. It’s often from the setting of a major dam that the transformations of the most important global ports have originated, at the same time it is from the expansion of a port, made possible by new protective works at sea, that the cities connected to the port infrastructure have developed in extension, functionality and beauty.
The construction of new infrastructures with such an impact still recurs today and requires great political, economic and design efforts. In Genoa this year, as in 1876 on the occasion of the construction of the Molo Duca di Galliera, which started a century of interventions and laid the foundations of the modern port city, work is underway for the construction of a new barricade which in three years should be able to protect over 6 km of coastline and extend the port basin by over 200 m compared to the current state.
There is no doubt that these crucial transformations impact and have to do with the city, with its public spaces and architectures. Dams, as an extreme architectural formation in terms of typology, technology and location, represent a unique experimentation for the architectural project. They are both territorial regulators and enablers, opening up in the contemporary context to projects capable of incorporating operational functions with urban activities in the form of amphibious architectures, temporary outposts, extreme settlements.

Design in marine spaces implies a tension between fixity and fluidity, highlighting a recurring quality of such spaces that Couling again defines as the “lack of settlement”. This lack triggers a scarcity of interaction with ocean space that, specifically, concerns settlements and offshore infrastructures such as dams. «[…] Offshore spaces appear increasingly autonomous, incomprehensible in terms of scale and similarly inaccessible in both visual/conceptual and physical terms. Their specialized nature and distance from settlement areas prevents “organic” contact. Our relationship is mediated and technicized. Specialist knowledge and skills are required to enter its realm on an individual basis, and therefore the ocean takes on an abstract, remote status which fuels the imagination but also determines the sequence and form of development in the majority of cases». (Couling, 2015)
After the previous course “Port-City Architectures. Inclusive and Hybrid Approaches for Land-Sea Settlements” (a.y. 2022/2023), this year course, titled “SOLID WATER. Port Dams as Land-Sea Architectures and Settlements”, proposes hybrid and inclusive solutions for contemporary port dams conceived as offshore architectures developed (for the most part) in the absence of ground. The course aims to elaborate on the idea that large operational infrastructures such as dams respond to spatial formation rules that differ from land-based artefacts and, at the same time, can be recognized not only as mere functional devices but as architectures capable of accommodating, including and triggering extreme and complex activities. The course is based on the following goals: dealing with urban/architectural design in an inhabited/developed coastal context; confronting the relationship between the built environment and the sea; addressing coastal environmental issues, as well as issues of adaptability over time; tackling climate change, aspects of temporariness, seasonality and impermanence of marine settlements and social/cultural living patterns.

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

[selection]

BOOKS/ESSAYS

Allen S. (1999). “Infrastruc­tural urbanism” in Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, pp. 46–59.

Andriani C., 2020, “Oltre. Metabolisms at the City/Port Border”, in Moretti (2020: 14-19).

Andriani, C., Moretti, B., Servente, D., 2018, “Patrimonio di confine tra Città e Porto. Il caso di Genova” in Paesaggio Urbano. Paesaggio Urbano, 3, 29-39.

Brenner N., Katsikis N. (2018). “Operational landscapes: Hinterlands of the capitalocene” in AD Architectural Design, 90, 1: 22-31.

Brenner N. (2013) Implosions /Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization, Berlin, Boston: JOVIS Verlag GmbH.

Bruttomesso R., Alemany J., 2011, eds., The Port City of the XXIst Century: New Challenges in the Relationship between Port and City. Venezia: RETE Publisher.


Couling N., Hein C., 2020, (eds.), The Urbanisation of the Sea. From Concepts and Analysis to Design. nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.

Couling N. 2015, The Role of Ocean Space in Contemporary Urbanization, EPFL Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne.

De Carlo G., 1992, La Città e il Porto. Torino: Marietti.


Ducruet C., 2011, “The Port City in Multidisciplinary Analysis”, in Bruttomesso, Alemany (2011: 32-48).


Hein C., 2011, eds., Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks. Abingdon-New York, NY: Routledge.


Hein C., 2020, “Designing Thresholds in the Port Cityscapes”, in Moretti (2020: 200-205).

Hein C., van Mi Y.l, Azman-Momirski L., 2023, Port City Atlas. Mapping European Port City Territories: From Understanding to Design, nai010 publishers, Rotterdam.

Khosravi H., Bacchin T.K., LaFleur F. (2019), Aesthetics and Politics of Logistics. Humboldt Books, Venice and Rotterdam.

Moretti, B., 2022. “Architetture della Città Portuale Contemporanea. Composizioni Ibride ed Eccezionali Contesti” in GUD, Composizioni – Compositions, n. 6, 24-33, Stefano Termanini Editore, Genova.

Moretti, B., 2021, “La grammatica dei porti, una morfologia speciale di paesaggi analoghi. Il caso del Grain Elevator di Buffalo” in GUD, Analogia – Analogy, n. 3, 46-55.

Moretti B., 2020, Beyond the Port City: The Condition of Portuality and the Threshold Concept. Berlin: Jovis.


Moretti B., 2020, “The FRAC of Dunkirk by Lacaton & Vassal: About Incommensurability, Duplication and Openness” in WA – World Architecture Magazine, 356, 114-119

Moretti, B., Komossa, S., Marzot, N., Andriani, C., 2019, “States of co-existence and border projects in port cities: Genoa and Rotterdam compared” in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil EngineersUrban Design and Planning, 172(5), 191-202.

Nesbit J. S., Waldheim C. (2022) (eds.). Technical Lands: A Critical Primer, JOVIS Verlag GmbH, Berlin.

Pavia R., Di Venosa M., 2012, Waterfront: Dal conflitto all’integrazione. Trento: LISt Lab.

Rosselli A., 2005, “Il porto come struttura e significato” in Portus, 10: 4-9.
Unwin S., 2007, Doorway. Abingdon-New York, NY: Routledge.


Tschumi B. (1981), The Manhattan Transcripts. Academy Editions, London.

Young L. (2019). Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post-Anthropocene. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons Inc.


WEBSITES

PULSE - Port-clUster LandScapE: Developing a Spatial and Design Approach to Port Clusters
EU Funded Project, Next Generation EU, NNRP, Young Researchers Public Notice 2022
https://pulse.unige.it

TRANSITIONAL TERRITORIES, TU Delft, NL
https://transitionalterritories.org/

DELTA URBANISM, TU Delft, NL
https://deltaurbanism.org/

PORTCITY FUTURES
Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities, NL
https://www.portcityfutures.nl/home

BORDERS&TERRITORIES, NL
https://www.borders-territories.space

PORTUS, the online magazine of RETE, Venice, IT
https://portusonline.org/

OSSERVATORIO DEI PAESAGGI COSTIERI ITALIANI
https://www.paesaggicostieri.org/

SEASCAPE. International Journal of Architecture, Urbanism and Geomorphology of Coastal Landscapes
https://seascape.it/

North Sea Wind Park, MVRDV, 2006
https://www.mvrdv.nl/projects/98/north-sea-wind-park

DELTA WORKS, NL
https://www.zeeuwseankers.nl/en/story/deltawerken-safety-and-recreation

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

Exam Board

BEATRICE MORETTI (President)

MATTEO VIANELLO (President Substitute)

LESSONS

LESSONS START

According to the academic calendar

 

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy

EXAMS

EXAM DESCRIPTION

At the end of the semester, students will present and discuss with critics their design rationale and justification for the project based on the course objectives.
The work presented for the final examination will be the series of 3 vertical A1 panels (59.4 cm x 84.1 cm) and the physical model on an architectural scale (1:200 or 1:100).
A digital pdf version of the 3 A1s will also be submitted and discussed during the exam. A template of the layout, in Indesign format (.indd), will be provided for panel processing.

Aspects to be emphasized in the final evaluation are: research, references, case studies, use of information; typological and functional manipulation of the architecture of permanence and change; urban strategy, insertion of the designed architecture into the context, design of public spaces and connections; environmental conditions and integrated architectural response; collaboration and communication; visualization of the project and effective use of media; effectiveness of the work and final presentation.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

Assessment and evaluation will take place at the end of each phase of work, by both the professors and the group/class itself. 
The presence of external guests during the final exam, as jury, will offer a direct and qualified confrontation in which the student will have to demonstrate the critical-theoretical and strategic-planning skills acquired during the course.
The final examination, conducted in presence and in oral form by all students, will verify the level of learning of the primary notions of architectural design and the themes proposed by the course.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
07/06/2024 09:00 GENOVA Laboratorio