Alejandro Aravena’s suggestions for the Biennale Architettura 2016 are particularly inspiring, especially when it comes to the image of the front as the location of architects’ daily battle to improve the quality of the built environment and thereby improve people’s lives.
Etymologically, the term front refers to the presence of a line clearly separating two different entities which compete for control of the territory; in coastal cities, the front might well represent the boundary line, physical rather than administrative, that divides strictly urban space from port space.
Historically, the presence of such a front along long stretches of coastline has partially deprived port cities of their relationship with the sea, often exacerbating phenomena of physical and social degradation in the urban areas closest to them.
Over the past thirty years, the transformation of our ports following introduction of container shipping and the subsequent displacement of logistics and port functions from our city centres has opened up an opportunity to alter the existence and attitude of this separation line, which obviously has an impact on the attractiveness of port cities and on their inhabitants’ quality of life.
The cities in which changes of this type have been most successful all share a singularly resilient attitude, that is, urban forms of organisation that have reacted proactively to the profound structural changes that have impacted them over the past thirty years, reinventing themselves, reinforced with wide-ranging planning and a new and diversified character, starting precisely with recovery and enhancement of their relationship with the water that surrounds them.
Seen in this light, this section of the exhibition is imagined as a voyage through time which starts with analysis and reinterpretation of some of the most significant urban regeneration projects for industrial ports which have already been implemented or are currently being implemented, encouraging wide-ranging reflection on the principles and methods with which to approach and orient the complex conversion of production in Porto Marghera. – Stefano Recalcati