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Cornigliano Civic Center

Rekindling a Sense of Community in a Historic Neighborhood

Dodi Moss

Cornigliano Civic Center
By Caterina Testa -
Schüco, Dott.Gallina, Knauf have participated in the project

Chronologically layered traces of urban transformation seem to be more evident in Genoa than elsewhere. Squeezed between the mountains and the sea – the focus of much of the city’s economic activity – this thin strip of land where building is possible has undergone an extraordinarily dense ensemble of uses and activities. The material and intangible legacy of this is evident in the form and character of the various neighborhoods.

In the western part of the city, the Cornigliano Ligure district lies on the far bank of the recently infamous Polcevera River. Radical changes to urban activities and structures have followed one another over the last two centuries. In the 19th century, Cornigliano was a renowned seaside resort, attracting the families of the new manufacturing bourgeoisie. Prior to that, it had been a leisure and recreation spot for aristocratic Genoese families, whose surviving monumental villas are a legacy of this past. In the late 1800s, Cornigliano’s history became entwined with Italy’s metal and steel industry. After World War II, Italy’s publicly-owned ILVA steelworks, one of its biggest plants, was built here. Massive industrialization of the shoreline near the city center prompted dense urbanization of the hillside area, predominantly as low-quality social housing. From its bourgeois origins in the late 19th century, Cornigliano became a working-class neighborhood for Italsider workers, before plant downsizing first in the 1970s, then again in the 2000s. Cornigliano’s history is also closely bound up with the Dufour family, which built its first confectionery factory here in the 1920s. After being donated to the City of Genoa, the former factory site was used to build a civic center for local sports associations.

Transformation of this industrial space into a community center was an early attempt to rehabilitate and regenerate the Cornigliano neighborhood after...

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