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Anomalous, unpredictable and poetic

This edition of The CityPlan returns to Italy to explore "the marvelous city", as Genoa’s administrators like to call it. Our GIS-based maps give an immediate view of Genoa’s distinctive geographical position tucked in between the sea and mountains that tumble down almost to the coast. The natural contour map shows how the city has grown up on steep slopes, slipping into every possible crevice, a feature that has understandably led to its description as an anomalous, unpredictable and poetic place. Yet despite Genoa’s extraordinary fascination, the population has progressively declined in the last few decades, going from 600,000 in 2001 to 580,000 today. Nor is the demographic trend expected to change, with forecasts for further population shrinkage. The population and worker density maps reveal a compact linear distribution spread evenly over the whole urban fabric. The two maps largely overlap, with the exception of higher worker concentrations in the Cornigliano neighborhood, in what is called the Erzelli district, on the highland between Sestri Ponente and Borzoli, and in the areas around the port. Residential densities extend over a wider area, reaching beyond the city center and along the coast. In the northernmost tip of the city, the Marassi neighborhood, which has also given its name to the city’s football stadium, pushes up into the hinterland. Similarly, the city reaches into two narrow inland valleys in the direction of Bolzaneto and Cavassolo respectively. The major road network largely matches population and worker densities. Laid out like a comb whose teeth reach into the valleys between the steep hills to the north, the network has to negotiate irregular terrain, with the result that roads are often tortuous and poorly interconnected. Although allowing for better traffic flows, the ring-road system along the coast has been the cause of many urban problems and effectively cuts the city off from the coast. The...

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