The Waters of La Spezia

la Diga Foranea nel Golfo della Spezia – Concorso di Idee 

TP/A w/ R19 (Omar Berri / Carlo Gandolfi)


The Diga Fornaria – Control and Protection

The diga fornaria of La Spezia is a supernatural archeological artifact whose reason for existence has since terminated. It’s original beneficiary use, that of military control and protection, has been transformed, and in it’s present state, it lacks a precise and justifiable utility.

Thus,100 years after it’s heroic (and expensive) construction, it’s current warden is seeking to requalify it, or a the least, to find a justification for it’s existence.

It’s incisive geometry make it undeniably a unique landmark within the Mediterranean basin. It can be described as a linear scar on the land / sea scape, with it’s Cartesian determinants precisely and physically dividing the sea into two separate luoghi, one which is historically nominated the Bay of Poets, facing south from the seaward side of the diga, and that of the Bay of La Spezia, which could best be described as a military/industrial lagoon as much as a Bay  The extreme difference in the qualitative, economic and biologic conditions and characters of the two ‘Bays’  is the condition a new intervention should undeniably reconcile, or,  at the very least, to partially alter.
vista04aStep 1: Reconnecting the Waters

Any sensible and practical proposal of how to reuse the diga must look first and foremost at the restoration of it’s surrounding waters, after which, as a secondary step, at determining functional ‘land based’ uses for the diga fornario.

_In the consideration of the reuse of the diga, it is paramount to recall that all current major industrial, governmental, professional, recreational and nutritional based  uses within the protective boundary of the the diga are Marine dependent in nature.

_La Spezia is a water-centric community and its economic existence is based on its capitalization of the attributes of the sea, both natural and artificial. However, presently it has saturated this tendency, and this ‘abuse’ has in fact brought the entire bay to it’s present state of environmental degradation.  The very seas which gives La Spezia its livelihood are at risk.


In order to continue to support transportation, manufacturing and military industries, the quality of the waters of La Spezia must be restored. For this restoration to take place, it’s waters must be encouraged to circulate


Quite simply, for these currents  to be reactivated and regeneration be provided for, a number of passages must be created through the diga. This Porosity allows the waters inside and outside the Diga to reunite.

The  waters inside the diga and outside the diga are stitched together.



By interrupting the artificial geometric stretch of the stone diga, necessary in providing regenerative sea currents in to (and out of) the bay, a secondary but fundamental by-product is contemporarily created, that of decreasing the bi-optic effect of a dual entry into the bay, and of creating a  pattern of many openings, which has in its nature a fact of independence, free comings and goings and an open source network of interchange fundamentally different in attitude to the militaristic point of control the original diga was intended for.
Thus different openings of different sizes are proposed, allowing for large vessel entry (north point), sports boats and mid size vessels (south point) and local touristic passages at various points created along the diga at regular and interment points.  These point of entrance are separated, creating varied and pluralistic points of entry and exit to the bay.

Step 2: Inhabitation of the Archipelago of La Spezia

Only after initial steps of opening the diga to alter the existing infrastructure can the process of carefully restoring the diga be considered.  Given that the historic anthropization of the coast of the Bay of La Spezia has been arguably overly aggressive in nature, only recently have proposed conversions recognized this excess and less intrusive uses of the waterfront and the waters themselves are being enacted.

In this this spirt we proposed that the conversion of the Diga be minimal in constructive terms, and that any use or function be limited to water based human actions, and that any inhabitation of the Diga itself be limited only to those functions that are bathing / swimming in nature.

Aligned Islands

_Interrrupting the singular nature of the Diga and creating numerous linear sections, a new Infrastructure is achieved, the Aligned Islands. These islands, small lines in the sea, become by their very size and shape, geometric monuments which require little or no further intervention. Given however the requirements to provide for the human behaviors related to bathing, minor corrections to the rough nature of the diga will be provided for by creating Aligned Islands,  smooth stone geometrical platforms, here and there.

Aquaculture-Units1Floating  Islands
The Infratructure of the Diga Fornaria was created to protect the Naval interests of the Savoia.

It’s reason of being, that of control and protection, can be justified only by proposing sustainable Marine based interests behind the Diga, primarily Acquacultura and Miticulture, intensifying these functions and readapting the Diga as a protective device for these vital Floating Islands.

_The Diga Fornaria as Infrastructure (Public Artifact)

_Miticuture/Acquaculture as Business (Private Artifacts)

Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be integrated with traditional methods of commercial fishing and harvesting of wild fish.

Small Round islands, varied in size, composition, use and biotic composition are placed along a regular grid in the bay of La Spezia behind the diga. These floating artificial islands create a myriad networks of experimental habitats. These islands are to be maintained by private fishermen but regulated by an agency whose primary role is to activate a new type of acquaculture, less intrusive and environmentally damaging than existing models, with a singular goal of leaving the environment of La Spezia Bay in better shape than it is found.



A key strategy paramount to the restoration of the quality of the waters of the Bay of La Spezia  is the reintroduction of native flora and fauna and an incremental re-installment of an indigenous local food web. This can be partially instigated via the introduction of habitat diversity (which considers habitats as physical areas and the biotic components they contain). In realistic terms, working towards enriching the ecosystem may appear a futile effort at this small ‘territorial scale’, but in real terms,  habitat diversity is actually more useful than ecosystem diversity.


Thus, the secondary but imperative goal of this proposal, after the restoration of sea currents, is the introduction of varied habitats for wild life.

For an holistic and balanced food web need be restored, it is necessary to consider not only  the sea, but also the the land and the air.

_Habitat-diversity as a strategy entails creating wetlands for nesting waterfowl and re-vegetating the coastal banks.

_Habitat-diversity entails enriching and providing for a variety of environs under the surface of the water, areas of shade, areas of openness, areas of enclosure. These environs, if varied enough, can provide habitats for varios fish, crusrtaceans, and marine plant species.

_Habitat-diversity entails enriching and providing for a variety of environs at the surface of the water, areas for planting indigenous plant species, providing nutrients for insects, birds and other lifeforms not part of two and four legged species.
_Habitat-diversity  entails the courage  to make choices beyond simple antropomorphic functions.

The Archipelago is divided in discrete aress, the first of which human activity is onerously provided for. In the second, acquaculture, permaculture and aviary culture habitats are provided for, where as in a third,  nature prevails.