“Catania looks at the sea”, the masterplan designed by Park Associati for the requalification of Catania’s waterfront, participates in the seventeenth Biennale di Architettura di Venezia

22 maggio / 21 novembre 2021
Padiglione Italia, Biennale di Architettura, Venezia

The italian pavilion, hosted in the space of Tese delle Vergini in the Arsenale venue, presents an exhibition titled “Resilient Communities”, curated by Alessandro Melis. Catania, a city built at the foot of the highest active volcano in Europe, entails a great deal of resilience and adaptation. Catania’s citizens have been doggedly building and rebuilding their city within the fertile basin bounded by Mount Etna and the Mediterranean. Today, Catania is no longer looking out to sea. The railway and the harbour have moved the water away from the city, both physically and figuratively.

The competition for the new waterfront masterplan was a great opportunity to return Catania to its sea. Leading the group that won the competition in 2019, Park Associati's intervention focuses on the city's four-kilometre waterfront, which includes the harbour, some abandoned industrial areas, the railway and several residential areas. At the core of the project is water, which from rejected risky element is turned  into an identity-defining economic resource for the city's future.

Two years on, no one has followed up on the project and nothing is known about the masterplan's future. Catania is still waiting for a chance to look out to sea.

The video “Catania faces the sea” describes the project and the following phases until today, emphasizing the great chellenge of urban and social relaunch that the masterplan envisages and elaborates. A missed opportunity until today for the city.

The model, exhibited with the video, shows the main interventions of the masterplan on the four kilomether of the waterfront: laying the railway below ground level and reconfiguring the harbour were the project's triggers. The new design reduces vehicular traffic and outlines new pedestrian flow infrastructures, such as a promenade plantée over the Archi della Marina and the Parco dei Binari in place of the old railway line. The new cruise terminal becomes a large amphitheatre overlooking the sea. The large bowl-shaped structure is both a landmark and a hydrological infrastructure that allows the city to shift from permanent emergency mode to a state of sustainable resilience associated with water safety.

Catania 2050 is a city where natural disasters become opportunities for lasting change.