An urban link between Dock and City

The Darsena of Ravenna, once the real port of the city, is nowadays a canal that is scarcely used and needs a deep rethinking. The surrounding area, located around the docks, has been the subject of redevelopment plans over the years, but they have come up against a very problematic obstacle, in the form of its separation from the city center determined by the railway station. Despite it is no longer used for commercial purposes, the canal remains a unique example of an extensive and potentially suggestive stretch of water, especially for a city without sea view, and could one day be reopened to touristic navigation.

The proposal is articulated in various autonomous parts, which constitute at the same time a single large renewal project for the station area. The masterplan is based on the connection between the historical center and the dock, through an architectural element that does not only act as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the tracks, but also constitutes a structure connecting two urban areas. The concept is based on the continuous quality of the path: the route does not stop at the end of the historic center, but continues to the station, and even beyond it, to a new waterfront.

The walkway is an elevated structure, which overcomes the height difference by means of ramps, and is both pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The elevation of the walkway is raised above the street, which provides greater protection from traffic, so that users of soft mobility can move in peace and safety. The elevated level of the walkway creates a linear sequence of covered spaces at street level, which can be used in many ways: on Viale Farini the parallel parking spaces on both sides are replaced with parking spaces at 90° under the structure in order to mitigate the presence of cars, and bus shelters are created for the high school nearby.

The elevated path was imagined as a continuous structure on arches inspired by the ancient architecture of Ravenna and in its morphology it recalls a Roman aqueduct that runs through the city. The architectural language, however, is translated into a contemporary version thanks to the use of steel, which allows for more sculptural forms, thus approaching modern naval carpentry. This “urban aqueduct”, which transports people, dialogues both with the historical context of the center and with the productive and maritime panorama of the Darsena.

The structure on arches continues beyond Viale Farini on to the Station roundabout, bends around it lining up with the station façade, passing a few meters in front of it. The arched structure continues past the façade station and joins a spiral pedestrian ramp, that gives access to the elevated path from the street and the bicycle parking nearby. The “aqueduct” then bends again and crosses the railway lines becoming a bridge, which is also the new façade of the station for the trains coming from north. The bridge is accessible by foot or by bike, always with distinct lanes, and access to train platforms is guaranteed thanks to stairs and elevators.

The arched structure that constitutes the railway overpass, then descends towards the Darsena creating commercial spaces below, which can accommodate bars and other activities. These spaces are glass-fronted on both sides in order to create an acoustic barrier, and at the same time they don’t obstruct the view of the Dock from the street.

The space that results at the head of the Dock is a renewed linear waterfront, with a front from the water characterized by glass arches and many new activities. The space is divided into a bike path and a wide pedestrian walkway, which are divided by sinuous benches and flower beds. A few trees create areas of summer shade, and the paving for the walk is made of wood to increase thermal comfort.

The area, which was intended to be transformed into a “square”, becomes a waterfront that is accessible and attractive. The structure gives a new image to viale Farini, to the station and to the Darsena, proposing itself as a new architectural element of interest. The proposal is also functional and solves the existing problems with parking lots and commercial spaces underneath.

Given the enhanced touristic potential of the Darsena area, a new multi-storey parking is needed in place of the existing parking lots at Piazzale A. Moro. The new building is a 3-storey conventional structure, with an envelope that takes inspiration from the theme of sailing. Tensile membranes hide the conventional frame of the structure, changing its shape and perception, both from the adjacent street, and from the Darsena dock where people will walk. The quadrangular sheets made of ptfe fabric are produced serially and fixed around the structure giving a new and unprecedented “soft” volumetry. The geometries and the cuts that the sails draw continuously change in the dynamic view that you have passing through via Darsena.

An old warehouse on the corner of the docks is replaced by a multi-storey commercial building that will house stores at ground floor, located right on the new promenade, and a hotel on the higher floors. The hotel is conceived as a 4-stars structure, given its size and privileged position on the docks, and provides on the second floor all the common areas and services, including restaurant, swimming pool and spa, on 900 square meters. Two common staircases at the two ends of the building and two central elevators serve the entire hotel, whose 60 rooms have views over the dock and the city center. The volume also decreases towards the top, with fewer rooms on every successive floor and a consequent cascade of terraces overlooking the docks.

The two railway buildings are renovated and accommodate spaces for public use, particularly for students of the nearby school, especially the ones commuting by train. The first building houses a 60-seat cafeteria and a fab-lab, hosting stations for 3D printing, tool work and other creative and craft activities. The second building houses a 60-seat two-storey study room and two meeting rooms. Between the two buildings, in addition to the entrance of the existing urban underpass, a courtyard with green flower beds is created. The existing water tower is converted into a micro-library, accessible by an elevator.

Ravenna, Italy


Urban regeneration


Andrea LUI, Francesca MONTI, Michele SANTOVITO