Marina of Taranto

Multifunctional Services Centre for use by the Port, situated on the Saint Catalde Quay in the Port of Taranto

TYPES: Hotel, Sport and Leisure
YEAR: 2008
CLIENT: Port Authority of Taranto
ACTIVITIES: Masterplan, preliminary design (competition 2nd prize awarded)

The new Multifunctional Service Centre serving the Port at the Saint Catalde Quay in Taranto is part of a wider project of renovation. The work is aimed to implement new docks, where boats shall be moored parallel to the line of the quay. It focuses on the slow change of this technical structure for the port operators exclusive use, into a public infrastructure integrating the civil and cultural life of the city.
The search for an integration of services and for the transformation of a “technical” space into a “public” one is enhanced by the new structure position, within the line of services in the middle part of the Quay.
It is very important for the city to provide welcome services and it is necessary to fill such a gap in the city culture for the development of the port of Taranto.
The new Multifunctional Services Centre may thus constitute the first part of a waterfront system at the citizens’ disposal, such as an urban sea system changing the architectural, environmental, organizational, cultural aspects and uses of that part of the city overlooking the sea of Taranto.
An overlook that is still missing or significantly limited in too many parts of the city.
In this regard, the historic delay in realizing the port hospitality structures may become an opportunity to reconsider the whole port system and to quickly open the eastern side of the quay to the citizens.
This will also cover the territorial need to launch the architectural, archaeological and cultural identity of the city.
The appearance is that of a giant sea mammal lying on a beach or of a great whale resting on the quay, bringing back to the childhood fairytales. The building has a linear architectural design with many straight paths crossing the building from the inside to the top. Cladding is made of lightweight roofing materials and sails thus enhancing the building shape.
The new Multifunctional Service Centre volume occupies the middle part of the first pier in the dock; it physically connects and extents the main upcoming services, as well as the Port Authority, the small maritime station (actually dismantled) and the harbourmaster's offices.
A Mediterranean concept clearly inspires the new Service Centre that is well integrated into the natural maritime environment and in harmony with the buildings of Taranto.
The monuments of the city, as well as the urban context, the sea system and the landscape are the perfect background of the new structure, which can become the core of a new maritime and urban culture of hospitality and development.
A new formal, functional and technological allowing “the men’s city” to finally reach the sea, without break in continuity from the Saint Eligius quay, through the Ponte di Porta Napoli (the stone bridge) and the Scivolo area, to the new Multifunctional Services Centre. The new Centre appears to visitors as a sort of pure game of volumes under the light, that is the blinding light of the Ionian Sea, mitigated and cooled by the sea breeze flowing through the shading system of canopies and sails surrounding the body of the “whale”.