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Case Study:

Waterfront Marina di Carrara

The Waterfront redevelopment project in Marina di Carrara aims to enhance functionality, services, and relationships between the port area and the urban context. Positioned as a strategic intervention, it promotes the tourism offerings of northern Tuscany, characterized by a complex commercial system, an extensive coastline, and the historical-naturalistic system of the Apuan marble basin.

The project envisages a series of integrated urban regeneration interventions to improve relations between the port area, the city and the coastal tourism system.

The territory

Marina di Carrara’s port, established in the mid-19th century for marble shipping, is a global hub for stone product handling. Connected to 85+ ports across 48 countries, it manages diverse cargo (stone, metal, project cargo) and ro-ro traffic. Critical to the Tyrrhenian multimodal corridor, linking the Mediterranean to Central Europe, its strength lies in efficient hinterland connections, facilitating easy facility transfer to loading docks. Notable features include Nuovi Cantieri Apuania production site, a significant fishing fleet, a Yacht Club, and 500 moorings for pleasure boats.

The new Port Regulatory Plan expands the infrastructure for commercial traffic, shipbuilding, cruises and pleasure craft. With a maritime station and marina with a thousand berths, the Municipality of Carrara and the Port Authority aim to redevelop the surrounding area, improving functionality and accessibility and creating public, commercial, and landscaped areas.

Project area

The area near the port of Marina di Carrara is crucial for the entire settlement and production context of Carrara, known for the extraction and transport of marble from the Apuan Alps.

The area between the harbour and the city, along the Colombo and Verrazzano avenues, is subject to intervention to solve traffic, architectural and perception criticalities. Problems such as architectural barriers, compromised pedestrian paths, and disturbances caused by traffic impact liveability. The need for a usable seafront promenade, the presence of disqualifying structures, and the separation of the east and west parts of the city are further challenges that require extensive redevelopment.

insights

The formation of the cognitive framework necessary for the process of shaping the design solutions involved the development of interdisciplinary, in-depth studies on the coastal system to the east and west of the port, the pine forest strip, the built-up area – mainly residential and commercial (west) or productive (east) – and the infrastructure system. In addition, we looked into the historical framework of the territory and the historical evolution of the port of Marina di Carrara up to its current state.

In particular, multiple specialised studies were conducted related to:

  1. Historical-patrimonial aspect of the port and the Marina di Carrara coastal strip site. The historical framework of the port was concerned with the origin and development of the port of Marina di Carrara as it is historically linked to the mining activities and marble industries of the Apuan territory, which are still among the leading local socio-economic activities today.
  2. Analysis of areas of archaeological interest and sites subject to archaeological finds
  3. Geomorphological and archaeological framework
  4. The analysis of the surface water environment
  5. The analysis of vegetation, flora and urban/anthropic and natural ecosystems.

Project

The intervention actions developed for the functional, architectural and landscape rehabilitation of urban relations at the Port-City interface relate to four homogeneous project areas

Areas

1) “PORTA DI LEVANTE – INTERSECTION OF VIALE DA VERRAZZANO, VIALE ZACCAGNA AND VIALE DELLE PINETE”

It concerns reorganising and upgrading the access road system to the port to reduce the city’s crossing by heavy vehicles. A system of roundabouts is planned to specialise in urban traffic and tourist or transport traffic directed to the port.

2) SYSTEM OF SPECIALISED ROADS AND SYSTEM OF PROTECTED ACCESSES

The project includes the redesign of the Cristoforo Colombo and Giovanni da Verrazzano avenues, which separate the port areas from the city, through redevelopment, the addition of roundabouts and parking areas, and the reforestation of tree-lined sections that are currently compromised. The aim is to reorganise vehicular traffic management, improve road safety, especially during peak hours, and anticipate future needs related to the development of the port’s merchant, shipbuilding and cruise activities.

3) “PORTA DI PONENTE – INTERVENTIONS FOR THE INTEGRATED FUNCTIONAL USE OF THE COASTAL SYSTEM”

This area, located in the western part of the port, will be redeveloped, transforming an area of over 20,000 m2 currently occupied by warehouses. The aim is to create squares and connecting paths between the city and the sea. By reorganising the road system, a spacious tree-lined pedestrian plaza near the coastal pine forest offers 53 parking spaces. The project includes multifunctional buildings and a guesthouse for the port authority. The main building, ‘ la porta di ponente,’ will be accessible through a large staircase leading to a panoramic terrace facing the sea and the Apuan Alps. At the rear, an equipped square will host cultural and entertainment events, with access to a tree-lined space extending to the sea.

4) “PORTA DI PONENTE – INTERVENTIONS FOR THE PROTECTED USE OF THE SEA PROMENADE AT THE WESTERN PIER”

We developed a system of scenic pathways along the beach and the harbour breakwater (Image 6) inspired by the marble basin’s production traditions and symbolically recalls the historical landscape of sand dunes that have now almost disappeared, with the presence of native shrubs and vegetation. The dunes have been recreated using curvilinear pools of varying heights, creating a labyrinth of paths towards the beach and promenade.

The seafront promenade begins with a historical section, characterised by monolithic blocks recalling the Carrara marble extracted from the quarries and shipped to the port.

The promenade rises in the vicinity of the breakwater, offering a panoramic view of the sea and the Gulf of Poets through an equipped path of over 1200 m with seating, shading systems and night lighting.

The port area is concealed by metal elements that function as visual filters, allowing the view of the port facilities and the Apuan Alps through large windows at the points of most significant landscape interest.

Strategic objectives

The project aims at achieving the following strategic objectives:

  • Solve critical environmental, landscape and infrastructural issues in the urban area surrounding the Port;
  • Strengthen the Port’s shipbuilding, merchant and cruise offer;
  • Improve intermodal efficiency and logistic
  • productive competitiveness to satisfy an increasingly specialised demand-oriented towards integrated industrial processes with contractual timing and commercial speed.