Dhe new playground on Via Enrico Porro in Genoa’s Certosa district is a cheerless place. Of course, everything is colorful here. The playground equipment and the floor coverings are brightly colored. Even the wall to the railway embankment has been brightly painted. But despite the sunshine and blue sky, this urban space does not breathe cheerfulness. A few children are undecidedly running back and forth between the swing and the climbing frame. A young woman, tattooed on her arms and legs, whistles back her dog, which has broken loose. A boy rides a scooter over the so-called Skatepark del Ponte, which consists of a few knee-high bumps.
Next to the playground is the temporary memorial for the victims of the 2018 bridge collapse, the “Radura della Memoria”. That means something like “clearing of memory”. But there is no forest around the clearing. The memorial consists of a spiral wooden pedestal in which 43 trees are planted, one for each fatality.
A corten steel base plate bears the names of the victims who “lost their lives in the tragedy at 11:36 am on Tuesday 14 August 2018,” it reads. Not all trees have grown well. Some are in full green, others have brown leaves falling off. The wreaths of flowers laid by the city administration at the memorial to mark the fourth anniversary of the disaster have withered.
The new bridge, built according to the plans of the Genoese star architect Renzo Piano, hovers over the playground and the memorial at “Ground Zero” in Genoa. The viaduct with the clear, soft shapes, named after the city saint San Giorgio, was completed after a construction period of barely two years and opened to traffic on August 4, 2020.
If you let your gaze wander up the 45 meter high white pillars, you can hardly hear a sound from above. People say it was much louder under the former Morandi Bridge. The five- to six-storey tenements in the narrow Via Enrico Porro were almost overgrown with the pillars of the cable-stayed bridge opened in 1967.
A thunderstorm, a crash. Then came the silence
The white noise of traffic accompanied the people under the bridge day and night, year after year. Until the noise grew into a massive crash on a late morning in August 2018, when a violent thunderstorm descended on Genoa. And then fell silent forever.
Eight blocks of flats on Via Enrico Porro were demolished to clear away the debris and the remains of the number ten bridge pier. Where today the playground and the memorial cannot even come close to filling the yawning emptiness under the new bridge, the “Parco del Ponte” is to be created in the coming years: a 23-hectare green space with 3000 new trees, plus the final “memorial” for the victims of the disaster.
The plans for the bridge park, which also includes a photovoltaic system and a wind turbine, came from Milan architect Stefano Boeri, who has made an international name for himself with the greening of high-rise buildings, among other things. However, the extensive work on the “sustainable bridge park” in the Polcevera valley has not yet started. For the time being, the repair and expansion of the track systems on the east bank of the river are being pushed ahead.