The Maritime Station at the Ponte Andrea Doria wharf was built at the beginning of the Thirties to allow for berthing the legendary “Rex”. The construction work on the building and the great Ocean liner were started at the same time, and it was exactly from Ponte Doria that the “Rex” left for its inaugural voyage on September 27, 1932.
The design for the station, the work of the technical office of the local Port Authority, but supported in the architectural characteristics by Luigi Vietti, was created on the eastern half of the wharf and on the part across from the plaza. The construction of the western wing, for which an immediate need was not felt, was postponed for timing with the operating warehouses on that side.
The urgent need to increase the reception capacity of the Ponte Andrea Doria wharf presented itself again at the end of 2002 when work was done exactly there, on the western wing. The events in the seventy years following the inauguration in 1932 profoundly transformed the building and in particular the western side where, after the Fifties, the warehouses present on that side were removed and substituted by several buildings. In the first 2000, faced with programs for development that had been planned by port agencies, the first among them the reshaping and widening of the quay, the configuration proved to be inadequate.
The task called for building a new terrace for boarding and a new volume that would overlook the quay; that would serve for accommodating large waiting rooms linked to the system of existing rooms found on the lower floor and on the plaza floor.
But beyond the practical reasons and goals linked to the modern needs of cruise traffic, what was offered was the chance to reflect on the complex and somewhat controversial genesis of an “unfinished” project from the Thirties. The theme was to work on that wing, that “twin” that today was no longer re-buildable, through solutions in which the rationalist facies of the structure could appear recognizable. Architectural elements and details that the existing station – having been damaged and having lost that integrity which brought it to the limelight in the most famous sector magazines of the period – was to have perpetuated with simplicity over time.
The architectural solution sought therefore called upon typical elements of Rationalism, trying to complete that project in a homogeneous and well recognizable way. The task of putting together the new façade of the station to the west was entrusted to a few but clear elements: the supporting structure of the new terrace includes a new volume in the central portion and continues, to the left and right, with two wings supported by a sequence of partitions in reinforced concrete. Above, the form is just as simple and geometric in the new roof structure, placed in the middle of the wing, recapturing the harsh and essential lines of that eastern original terrace.
After a few years, a similar occasion came up for the same wing, when the construction of a new building at the head of the wharf was requested to substitute a technical volume that had been built probably in the ‘50s and where in 1933 there had been a terminal pavilion for boarding. Made completely in glass and iron, with a wide cantilever brise soleil roof, the new volume reproduces the layout from the blueprint of the building at the foot of the wharf from the ‘30s, made up a white and gray structural geometric system of vertical frames and horizontal trellises, filled by transparent and colored glass.
The theme of the frame was over the course of the designing a constant reference point, both in the structural elements in reinforced concrete or steel, as well as in elements that make up essential parts of the building like the windows and doors, roofs of the canopies and the illuminated ceilings.
Polychromatic frames have been introduced also on wide glass windows to reduce the light of the interiors. In other areas vast colorful frames dramatically enliven the tones of colors.
As for color, the task was to visually balance everything, inside and out. On the interior, the prevalent colors were whites, blue ‘squares’, yellow and orange, spread like giant murals on the walls of the rooms, inspired by the thought and artistic practices of the Twentieth century and in particular by a short text by Le Corbusier, Polychromie Architecturale. Le Corbusier probably visited the Andrea Doria station in 1933 along with the participants of the CIAM conference (Congrès Internationaux d’ Architecture Moderne).
Client Autorità Portuale and Stazioni Marittime S.p.a
Location Port of Genoa
Typology Extension and restoration
With Carla Coccia
Collaborators Giulia Parodi, Alessandro Iozzia Maddalieno, Paolo Ferrari, Chantal Cattaneo Della Volta, Andrea Gastaldi, Giulio Pons, Ludovico Milesi, Boglarka Szentirmai, Enrica Campomenosi, Enrico Spicuglia, Adriano Venturini, Lukáš Peták
Consultant Carlo Devoto, Valter Scelsi
Structures Aldo Signorelli, Elio Montaldo, Daniele Canale, Claudia Bilello (collaborator)
Installations Alfredo Gandini, Philippe Manca, Paolo Accame, Roberto Iori, OR + Roberto Orvieto
Management of works Autorità Portuale Genova, Edoardo Praino, Enrica Torre, Stazioni Marittime S.p.a, Alberto Capurro, Fabio Marangoni (collaborator)
Builders Stices S.r.l., Mancini S.r.l, Pdf De Rege S.p.a, Giustiniana S.r.l, Ceisis S.p.a