Urban Design and Landscape

THE BLENDIN'LINE

ELISA ZADRA, ISABEL TORRESANI, ALESSANDRO GAZZINI
University of Trento
Italy

Project idea

Fundamental objectives of our intervention are:
• turn the border between port and city into a space of connection and socializing;
consequently, restore a social identity to the port.

Important aspect of our project is the fact that, thanks to the planned interventions, we touch a small part of what is the operational port, leaving free space for the port authorities to freely organize the operations that take place at ground level.

In ancient times, the city and its port used to lived in symbiosis, the port was considered one of the public buildings of the city. Then, ports were considered an emporium, a commercial hub with large stores for sale to the public and for storage, where people could spend their time interacting with each other.
Over the years, the relationship between city and port has changed drastically, up to nowadays, when the port is a mere functional and logistical infrastructure, which needs security and therefore has to be closed to the public. This fact turned the port into an entity that has nothing to do with the life of the city.
Our fundamental goal is to turn the space between port and city into an area of connection and interaction, giving back a social identity to the port. A strong point of our intervention is that it does not interfere with what is the operating port, fundamental today for the economy of a country.

Project description

The proposal is the Blend-In ‘Line (BL), an elevated pedestrian and cycle path that spreads through the waterfront and over the port; a cool place, a place of union between people, a place where to rest and enjoy a new point of view on the surroundings.
The main purpose of the intervention is re-connecting the city to the port and to the sea, by uniting some Key Spots that the BL will contaminate with its architecture. It is an intervention that promotes a safe slow mobility, and allows this latter to be safely part of a chaotic and busy city.
To revisit the idea of ​​Emporio Port in a modern key, the Blend-In'Line will widen in some points in order to house commercial stands of various kinds: permanent or temporary, gastronomic or textile. In this way, we give back to the port its commercial vocation, without interfering with what is going on on the ground, where the operating port is active.
The Blend-In 'Line is an intervention strong enough to contaminate an already densely urbanized place, but not so binding as to affect the port authorities, it is a new landmark for a devastated city such as Beirut.

Technical information

The name of the intervention, Blend-In 'Line (BL), hides a double meaning:
the "line" where people can blend in, interacting and socializing;
but also the "line” that blends the outlines of the “ In-Between ”, the space between the city and the port.

THE BLENDIN’LINE

Our proposal is an elevated cycle and pedestrian walkway, a significant landmark that spreads along the waterfront connecting some Key Spots. The aim is to make slow mobility coexist safely with what is a chaotic city, offering residents and tourists a new point of view on the surroundings.
The walkway is raised at a variable height, three to seven meters; its width goes from five meters to sixteen.
The structure is made of a steel skeleton, finished with white paint, and the decomposed shape is inspired by the ruins of the former warehouses. In order to ensure shaded areas, some parts of the skeleton are filled with Iroko wood strips, a very resistant African wood. The strips create a roofing that wraps around the walkway irregularly. The BL is livable even in the evening, LED bars are applied to the supporting skeleton and the floor, creating an intriguing atmosphere. The walkway is supported by reticular structures, enlarged pillars, which also contain stairs.

THE EMPORIO PORT

When the reticular structure of the pillars reaches the walkway level, it creates a space used as commercial hub. In addition to these spaces, temporary stands will also be able to get on the BL, this is our way of re-proposing in a modern key the concept of what was the Port-Emporio in ancient times, giving back to the port its commercial vocation without interfering with the activities of the operating port.

THE STEPs SQUARES

Near the Key Spots we have designed the "Steps Squares”, terraced squares made of srteel, equipped with ramps for those who cannot take the stairs, which with their grandeur invite people to climb on the BL.

CHARLES HELOU BUS STATION

What is now a barrier between the port and the city is redeveloped by being contaminated by the BL. The first floor of the station is used as a transition space, while the second floor is removed to obtain a higher and brighter environment.

THE MEMORIAL

The former silos dock is separated from the operational port. The BL revolves around the memorial, ‘protecting’ it, and housing an open-air museum, exhibiting photos fitted to the meshes of its skeleton, in memory of the devastating explosion. In this area, people can also walk on the ground, as the area is redeveloped with new flooring and equipped with seating and green areas.

TOWARDS A GREENER PORT

The impact that port activities have on the environment is significant, starting from air pollution up to noise pollution. Based on the data collected by Enel-x for Legambiente in the report "Green ports, the route to sustainable development", we gave an idea of how to start moving towards a more ecological port. We introduced the "shore to ship power" process, also called cold ironing stations, or rather points where parked ships can connect to the electricity grid in order to turn off the engines completely, reducing air and acoustic pollution. Such an intervention only makes sense when a large part of the electricity is produced from renewable sources, which is why in the masterplan we included an area for the production of clean energy.

CONCLUSION

Our project looks at the port of the past and tries to extrapolate its power in order to give it to the port of the present. We give you the BL, an elevated walk on the port, a cool place of social relationships, where people can rest and enjoy the landscape, all of this without interfering in any way with the activities of the operating port at the ground level.

Documentation

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