Genoa Aquarium

Place: Genoa, Ponte Spinola Old Port

Authors: Renzo Piano Building Workshop; Peter Chermayeff (interior)

Chronology: 1985 | 2001 (Aquarium); 2001 | 2004 (biosphere); 2007 | 2013 (cetacean pavilion)

ItineraryTreasure hunt

Use: Aquarium

In 1992, Genoa hosted the “Cristoforo Colombo” International Exposition dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. On that occasion, Renzo Piano designed a project to enhance the port area, facing the historic city center. Since then, the Aquarium and the other buildings, recovered for exhibition, cultural and commercial functions, have completely transformed this urban waterfront attracting a very high number of visitors from all over the world.

A sequence of scaled tanks, suspended by reinforced concrete columns allowing placement of service facilities below the quay, lead the visitors to discover the Oceans and the various underwater environments, populated by thousands of animal and plant species. It is a steel structure strengthened by reinforced concrete panels and plastic coating.

The high-tech interior design by Peter Chermayeff develops along two main bodies of the exhibition halls, detached from the central wooden walkway and services.

At the end of the pier is Nave Italia, a large blue ship that houses the Biodiversity Pavilion, added later.

The new Cetacean Pavilion, again designed by Renzo Piano, was built between 2007 and 2013. It consists of four semi-submerged pools visible from the inside and from above.

Text by Francesca Castelli
Photos by Emanuele Piccardo