Ah, no wonder you’re extinct.
(Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg, 1993.)
There are places that man has exploited to the point of rendering them inhospitable territories. Anecumenical places and peripheral spaces where the project is driven not by desire but by the absence of resistance and where the human presence is not only superfluous but alien. Porto Marghera is a space governed by machines whose ever-growing autonomy, combined with the gradual deterioration of the production plants, led to a progressive and irreversible depopulation of the area. Porto Marghera tells the story of all those landscapes that are sacrificed on the altar of progress because other landscapes can shine with their beauty and boast of their uncontaminated purity.
The hoped-for revitalization of the port area à la New York is in contrast to the idea of a strategic retreat. At a time when the complexity of each commitment to short-term urban transformation appears insurmountable, the ‘quarantined until further notice’ status of terrains of high environmental risk appears, by comparison, as a potential. In a deliberate abandonment - Gelassenheit - the project proposes a large exclusion zone where nature is left free to proliferate and human activity is confined to discontinuous productive islands that survive in the new post-human ecosystem.
The more that services, products, and competencies are dematerialized, the more that concrete and cumbersome infrastructures emerge, fundamental to ensure such a process; apparently marginal artifacts that, while neglected, constitute the essential basis of contemporary economic activities. Porto Marghera, because of its geographical position and its territorial peculiarities, is the ideal place to accommodate the transition from an outdated industrial system in crisis to a thriving post-industrial production system, where the railways are replaced by tons of fiber optic cables and the puffing of smoke stacks by the humming of servers.
Dispersed within the dense forest planted on the vestiges of the old dismantled plants, spaces for the disposal and recycling of waste are optimized, surfaces for the production of electricity from renewable sources are put into place, areas for logistics are maximized, new data centers with attached control centers are inserted, port areas are updated, the still functioning industrial portions are protected, the scant artisanal and residential zones are removed to be relocated. A model entirely regulated by the times and spaces of land reclamation is proposed – a highly efficient closed cycle.
A 20km-long wall surrounds and protects Porto Marghera, giving physical substance and stage presence to a space that is difficult to visualize, three times the size of Venice. In an apparent absence of planning, the wall functions on one hand as a sign, a stubbornly monumental formal object even if anonymous; on the other, it serves as an infrastructure. The city will be free to approach it according to a settlement catalogue that varies in relation to the boundary conditions, nothing will be able to get beyond the enclosure. The population will be free to invade it, colonize it, vandalize it, hate it, bring it down. The wall will be removed when no longer necessary.
Welcome to the jungle.