Janus: A Project for the Land and Sea of Genoa.
A design studio at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture (RAvB) with Amir Djalali. Participants: Joeri Bellard, Daniel Grobecker, Max Hissink, Stan Kruijssen, Casper van Leeuwen, Leonard Nieuwenhuijse, Amber Peters, Paul Schiereck, Lisa Schwab, Jasper van de Ven
The project aims to define a constellation of architectural interventions around Genoa's harbour and its inland's logistic infrastructure.Yet, the studio will not try to develop a comprehensive plan to solve the shortcomings of Genoa and its inland. Architecture does not have the tools to solve such kind of problems within the complexity of today's technical organisation.
Ironically, constructions such as transatlantic ships, grain silos, and warehouses heavily influenced the development of modern architecture in the beginning of the 20th century. Yet, since the 1960s the harbour jettisoned architecture and architects from its landscapes, supplanted by less tangible forms of organisation and control based on the computational logic of standardised procedures and data analysis.
The studio rejects a return to a romantic idea of harbour architecture—as in the usual restoration of warehouses and industrial complexes into expensive apartments and fancy cafés. On the contrary, this project has the ambition to learn from the harbour in order to develop a set of ideas and tools to overcome the present crisis of architecture.
Harbours, unlike cities, are not characterised by public life. Traditional ideas of citizenship and politics do not apply in harbours, which are dominated by the logic of business. Unlike cities, harbours bear little traces of their past: they are constantly changing, and their structures are demolished and re-built according to the changing developments of technologies and the variable trends of international trade.
But precisely for this reason, through the understanding of these spaces of trade, we have the possibility to find new forms of cohabitation and collective life. Architecture then can again help us in shaping new institutions to cope with the complexities of today's life. Is there a possibility for architects to learn once again from harbours and ships to overcome architecture's present crisis?