iGuzzini has taken part in the construction of the new viaduct over the Polcevera river (now known as the Genoa Saint George Bridge), by putting its technological solutions at the service of the project designed and donated to the city by the architect Renzo Piano. The new 1,067-metre-long structure, that will be officially opened on 3rd August at 6.30pm, will replace the historic Morandi Bridge that tragically collapsed on 14th August 2018, killing 43 people. Following the disaster, the rapid intervention of the Mayor and Special Commissioner for the Reconstruction of the Bridge, Marco Bucci, enabled the demolition and reconstruction of a new viaduct connecting the two parts of the city to begin as soon as possible. All of the players involved in the new bridge’s design and construction phases – namely, the consortium PerGenova, which consists of Fincantieri Infrastructure and Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo), Renzo Piano, the designer of the architectural and lighting concept, Italferr, the executive design engineers, and Rina Consulting the works director – have pooled their specific know-how and only 13 months after the cast of the first foundation, they have succeeded in completing a bridge that is destined to redefine the city skyline.
To borrow the words of the Architect and Senator for Life Renzo Piano, in the new bridge “there is the first taste of something beautiful, some compensation after so much tragedy. And there is the sense of a lesson: that bridges cannot and must not collapse. And this is already part of the valley. It will be landscape and life, and it will not speak about us, but about those who pass over and underneath it. I feel that it is already loved and cared for by future observers."
As it crosses the built-up area of the Polcevera Valley, the new structure has the character of an ‘urban bridge’ whose discreet presence succeeds in interacting with the context that surrounds it. The Genoa Saint George Bridge, in fact, is supported by 18 slim, reinforced concrete piers that blend into the variegated urban fabric. A specially designed support system ‘isolates’ the deck from the piers, giving the structure a sense of lightness as it crosses the valley. The desk section is also gradually tapered at the ends and its sides are punctuated with steel ribs to lighten and attenuate the visual impact of the structure. The elliptical cross-sections of the piers, together with the deck, recall the shape of a ship’s hull, and the design minimises their volume by allowing the light to slide softly over their reinforced concrete surfaces. Moreover, the decision to use a light colour to paint the steel elements allows the bridge to reflect the colours of the surrounding landscape, thereby reducing the impact of the new infrastructure on the Polcevera valley. An extremely important element is the way the bridge recalls Genoa’s shipbuilding tradition. This reaches its ultimate expression in the forms and materials borrowed from the nautical world: the piers, the steel structure and the white colouring with blue reflections are all reminiscent of a ship’s keel. Particular attention has also been paid to the aspects of safety and easy maintenance - in terms of both inspections and future interventions - as the bridge has been designed to “last a thousand years”.
“The new bridge will have to be simple and parsimonious, but not trivial. It will look like a ship moored in the valley; a light and bright steel bridge. It will reflect the sunlight during the day and absorb solar energy that it will then give back at night. It will be a sober bridge, respecting the character of the Genoese people,” commented the architect Renzo Piano.
Light plays a fundamental role in helping to insert the structure in its urban context. By day, natural light highlights the apparent weightlessness of the ‘ship’, by emphasizing the ‘frayed’ design of the sides of the deck and the sensation that it is levitating. By night, the artificial light, designed by Renzo Piano and created with iGuzzini luminaires (both standard and special luminaires, specifically designed and created to light the road and the structure’s architecture), operate in perfect harmony with natural light to emphasize the new bridge’s lightness and its ship-like forms. Using luminaires mounted on high, mast-like poles in the middle of the carriageways also evokes the idea of a ‘white ship’ crossing the valley to connect the eastern and western banks.
“The Genoa Saint George Bridge is a strong signal of hope for the city of Genoa and the whole country. We are extremely proud to have taken part in the reconstruction project alongside figures of international Italian excellence, like the architect Renzo Piano, whom we have worked closely together with for thirty years, and the major companies involved who have a unique level of know-how that has been constructed through years of experience all over the world. This is a choral project and a symbol of Italian expertise,” declared Adolfo Guzzini, President Emeritus of iGuzzini illuminazione.