Europe

Genoa bridge: Renzo Piano volunteers design idea

Remains of the Morandi bridge in Genoa (file pic) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Steel rods suspending the bridge had been badly damaged by sea air in the decades since it was built

Renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano has offered to help design a new Genoa bridge to replace the one that collapsed, killing 43 people.

A native of the city, Piano was already involved in redesigning a 2km (1.2-mile) stretch of its waterfront.

Regional governor Giovanni Toti said: "We have gladly accepted the help, and he's already made some proposals."

A section of the 51-year-old Morandi bridge fell down on 14 August, crushing vehicles and buildings underneath.

It has since emerged the 1.2km bridge had been slowly decaying for decades.

'Rebirth and redemption'

Piano presented his idea to Mr Toti, governor of Liguria, and Genoa mayor Marco Bucci on Tuesday.

The 80-year-old insisted the new bridge should be constructed "soon, but not in a rush", reflecting the "genuine nature and qualities of the Genoese".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Among Renzo Piano's designs is the Whitney Museum in New York

Piano is best known for designing buildings such as London's Shard, the Pompidou Centre in Paris with Richard Rogers and the New York Times headquarters. However, he has also designed the Ushibuka bridge linking three Japanese islands.

He was in a meeting in Genoa on the day the Morandi bridge collapsed and said he had thought of nothing else since the tragedy.

In an interview with Italy's La Repubblica newspaper, the architect said what was needed was a beautiful and safe bridge that would provide a "rebirth and redemption" for the affected area.

According to Italian reports, Piano provided sketches to Genoa officials, showing the road sitting on pillars that each resembled the prow of a ship.

The other main feature would be 43 very tall posts illuminating the bridge at night in the shape of sails - one for each victim of the disaster, the Corriere website said.

The bridge would be built by engineers, but the project should be thrown open to all architects, engineers and landscape specialists, he said.

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Media captionCCTV shows cars under the bridge moments before it collapses

The question of who will take charge of the project has been a contentious one in Italy, with the populist government accusing motorway network company Autostrade per l'Italia of failing to invest properly in maintaining the original bridge.

A Genoa court has been tasked with finding out why the 200m section of the bridge collapsed. It is already known that sea air had eroded steel rods that suspended the roadway from a series of concrete pylons, but the damage was hard to detect because the rods were encased in concrete.

Italy's transport minister has suggested that Autrostrade should pay for the new bridge but leave the government to build it. Autostrade has already allocated €500m (£450m; $580m) in funding to help rebuild the bridge, house displaced families and give funding to the bereaved.

One proposal was for the state-controlled Fincantieri shipyard to build the structure.

The leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, whose party is in government with the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini, has accused the previous centre-left administration of protecting companies given state concessions.

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