On the morning of August 14, 2018, after heavy rain hit the northern Italian port city of Genoa, a section of the 1960s-era Morandi Bridge, a key viaduct spanning the Polcevera River, collapsed, sending dozens of cars hurtling onto railroad tracks below.
The tragedy, traced to the failure of a set of the bridge’s stays, caused 43 deaths and dozens more injuries and deeply wounded the city’s civic pride. So, when it was announced just three months later that Genoa-born architect Renzo Piano had offered to design the replacement bridge free of charge, hope reverberated through the community.
With a streamlined and minimal form that seems to float in midair, the new steel-and-concrete structure opens to traffic this April. Steel elements are powder-coated in white to harmonize with the surrounding landscape, while seamlessly integrated photovoltaic panels power all systems, including lighting and sensors.
“The new bridge must be simple and straightforward but not ordinary,” says Piano. “It is going to look like a ship moored in the valley. During the day, it will reflect sunlight and absorb solar energy, and at night, it will return it. It will be a sober bridge, respecting the character of the Genoese.”