Porous City: Reconnecting the City to the Sea
Naples, Italy (MArch, 5th Year)
Naples is made of two parts: the city and the port. The city is dense and embedded whilst the port is loose and has a functional relationship with the sea. Both of these parts once worked together. The port was perfectly located within the Mediterranean sea and the city was protected by the landscape, which also offered fertile volcanic soil at the base of Vesuvius. The two elements of the city working together was vital for the growth and success of the city. This symbiotic relationship still exists today but the two parts are disconnected. The city turns its back on the port and, in doing so, the sea. The disconnection is physical, social and architectural. Physically, there are barriers and fences which divide the city and the port as well as the main road, Via Nuova Marina, which splits the two. Socially, the port is mostly private and industrial – only the workers of the port go there apart from a few ferry terminals to the west. There is no incentive for tourists to venture into the port and thus they never reach the sea (except by ferry to the islands). Architecturally, the city is dense and ornate whilst the port is loose and expedient.
It is known that the Centro Storico (historic centre) of Naples is interesting. The tourists flock there to walk along the Spaccanapoli and visit the many churches in the district and eventually gravitate upwards to the Castel Sant’Elmo at the top of the hill, which overlooks the city. Looking back down at the city, they must wonder why they never ventured to the port and, more importantly, never experienced the moment where Naples meets the sea.
My proposal is aiming to address this issue by reconnecting the city to the sea. By identifying a point in the port to the south of the Mercato district, which has direct contact with the water, I found a moment along the dividing road where the city and the sea could be linked through a new space in the port. By extending a series of city spaces into the port through the design of a market and new piazza, the flow from the city to the port should feel natural. The design draws from the language of the port and the architecture of the city, inviting tourists, residents and workers to share the new space and reconnect the city to the sea.