- The Pulsar effect in Genoa: 1992ís World Exposition, 2001ís G8 meeting, 2004ís European Capital City of Culture    click here to open paper content86 kb
by    Bobbio, Roberto & Bisio, Lidia | r.bobbio@arch.unige.it   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Genoa learnt ways to use big events to revivify its urban core, strengthen the city tourist potential, improve urban quality in order to get a new role after the collapse of the old industrial economy.
Interest: (i)repeatability of events elsewhere; (ii)sustainability (pulses used to trigger urban renewal; urban policies opportunities (pulses used for re-thinking the role of the City.
Genoa (Italy) was selected as one of the seats of 1992ís World Exposition to celebrate the Anniversary of the discovering of America. The Exposition was seen as an opportunity for presenting the city as a tourist centre and launching the urban revival.
For long Genoa had been the biggest port and one of the great industrial cities of Italy; but during the Seventies the City suffered serious troubles: its economy wrecked, due to the global changes in sea transportation and production. In the Eighties the City was in full decline, but its reaction began to pay back: the port, enlarged and equipped with new facilities, started its recover; the industrial areas left empty began to be redeveloped for new productions and commercial activities.
The City had also looked at its historical heritage to improve urban quality and to accede to the European network of tourist cities. Located in a hilly site that hampers new settlements, with a decreasing population and the need to recover from the heavy industry pollution remains, Genoa dropped any expansion plan and choose to emphasise environmental policies and re-use of existing buildings, matching peculiar aspects of a sustainable development.
In 1987 the City obtained the designation as Exposition seat. The Expo project (entrusted to the Genoese architect Renzo Piano) involved the Old Harbour, including dismissed warehouses, and was intended to produce a permanent result.
Carrying on the project was possible thanks to a deal signed by the City, the Region and the Port Authority that had been discussing how to redevelop the Waterfront according to the model of US cities (Baltimore, Boston). The money provided by the State for the Exposition made possible to afford the big spending necessary for interventions already planned. Nevertheless, great obstacles remained: the intervention needed the permission of many different administrations and a variation of the City Master Plan, that would have requested years of discussions. The solution was found in settling a Conferenza dei servizi, a permanent committee in which all the concerned Administrations sit, in order to speed up the project approval process (similar committees had been already experimented in Italy in connection with the 1990 Football World Championship and since then included in current approval procedures).
After the Exposition the number of the Aquarium visitors boomed. To add new uses to the Old Harbour, the City, the Province and the Chamber of Commerce established a Company in charge to rent the estate, selecting the activities appropriate for revitalising the area, and to use the proceeds originated from it to add facilities and improve the quality of public spaces. So an alive Old Harbour has propelled a moderate but steadily increasing tourist growth.
At the same time, the City sustained the process of revitalisation of the Historical Centre by public expenditures either in housing and in reinforcing centrality (new University Faculties, Opera House, Art Exhibit Centre). But the City expending capacity was not adequate to the agenda of projects.
So, when the Government proposed Genoa for 2001 G8ís meeting, the City accepted with a double intention: (i) spending in lasting public works most of the money provided by the State and (ii) taking profit from the presence of the media in order to promote the image of Genoa as a world city and a tourist resort.
In June 2000 a dedicated state law had been issued in order to finance the meeting and the correlate investments. A task force including Government, City and local Administrations representatives was settled to approve and manage the necessary actions. The G8 meeting related works consisted specially of the renewal of the central public spaces and buildings to shape a historical and cultural route that could appeal tourists and attract city users.
When Genoa got the designation, together with Lille, France, to be European Capital City of Culture in 2004, the City tried to manage this new pulse in order to complete the unfinished projects and launch new ones. An agreement with the Ministry of Culture will make possible to pursue a program concerning the City museums network and the restoration of the ancient suburban villas and the old fortifications (these are typical landmarks that have been pointed out to increase the environmental quality in the suburban areas).
The machine for transforming emergencies in permanent achievements has by far been tested;it seems efficient enough to convert pulses in propellers for urban renewal, even if developing more complex strategies and urban policies is still needed; moreover, the positive impact on the City core should be extended to the suburban neighbourhoods.
urban renewal
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