On August 14 of last year, the rains came to Genoa, Italy, so hard that you could barely see. Traffic began to slow down to a crawl on the Morandi Bridge, a 1960s-era engineering marvel that eschewed most suspension cabling with one of the longest runs of reinforced concrete in the world. Then, around 11:30 a.m., hundreds of feet of the bridge collapsed. Forty-three people died, and hundreds were displaced from their homes.
While the exact cause of the collapse is still unclear, the city is currently rebuilding the bridge with plans to open the replacement in 2020. Designed by legendary Italian architect Renzo Piano, the new bridge will be “sober,” and “simple but not banal.” But Piano’s bridge won’t stand alone. Another Italian firm, Stefano Boeri Architecture, has unveiled its designs for pedestrian pathway that will snake around Piano’s new bridge—and serve as a memorial to the 43 people who died in the collapse.
The design is called Red Circle. It’s a striking steel ring, rendered in this material as an optimistic nod to Genoa’s industrial heritage of smelting furnaces and cranes. Spanning nearly a mile, it will provide access to a memorial park being completed under the bridge. The park will house an installation by artist Luca Vitone called Genova in the Wood. Forty-three trees, one for each life lost, will commemorate their lives as a small forest where people can walk, rest, read, and study botany with books in an onsite library.
The elevated pathway will also serve a functional purpose beyond offering walkers and cyclists a car-free route: It will also be a source of energy for the city. It will distribute energy generated by solar panels, as well as through piezoelectric flooring that generates electricity from vibrations on the bridge, and most strikingly, a 400-foot red wind tower that juts into the sky like a flame.
In a statement, Boeri described the project as a way to welcome people to the city, adding that Genoa is a “superb city, even though it is afflicted by poignant melancholy; beautiful, even if in the harshness of its everlasting contradictions. A city of steel and sea, sculpted by wind and tragedy, but always able to stand tall.”
It’s a memorial that is more than just an art installation, and a bridge that’s more than just a structure built to carry people. All in all, it looks to be a powerful and captivating project—one that will slice through the city, ensuring that you just cannot look away.