Casa Vela is the most public and prominent feature of Genoa’s Levante Waterfront. Being located on the port breakwater, the purpose of this project was for it to embody Genoa’s maritime urban quality on which the Levante Waterfront is based. Its prominence toward the sea at the entrance to the port is the very aspect that makes the place, regardless of the functions it may take on in the future.
In this position, Casa Vela enhances the north– south axis of the Brignole Station to the sea, along Viale Brigate Partigiane perpendicular to the east–west axis of the Levante Waterfront project, with the urban park stretching from Boccadasse to the Old Port. We thought of extending the promenade above the breakwater, at 6.30 meters above sea level, creating Piazza del Mare, an
authentic urban belvedere with views on Genoa’s sailing competition courses, creating what could be defined a “regatta stadium.”
Below the square, at sea level, toward the dockyard, is the Casa Vela operational center, with a lobby, spaces for the athletes, a hall for the regatta referees, office spaces, a conference room, a medical center, a restaurant, a gym, a sail locker, and a boathouse. Above the square there is a small pavilion with a café with outdoor tables and views on the sea, a common hall, and a panoramic terrace for the Regatta Committee.
More than an isolated building, Casa Vela has been conceived as an “open system,” qualified by a dialogic architecture that, stemming from the needs of those who will frequent it, works on the line of time rather than on that of space being ready to accept future changes and responding to the varying needs of its future users. A public, accessible, open space, always alive and there to
be enjoyed in the name of sport and inclusion.
Casa Vela is a choral project encompassing the active participation of all those involved. Rather than being a building, it is a relationship condenser. It does not organize, it creates opportunities. It does not serve, it enables. It is not an outcome, but a process. It does not deal with image, but with content. It is an opportunity to experiment with a new concept of architecture that participates in creating a sense of community by sharing in one environment the same values connected to the sea and seafaring. The activities taking place in Casa Vela are thought out, discussed, and shared, systematizing multiple areas of knowledge, experience, and talents, celebrating the Panathlon’s motto, ludis iungit (united by sport). Casa Vela is a model of how participation can create a sense of belonging and environmental awareness, addressing new forms of public and collective life.
This project has been a way of asking ourselves how we could create a sound relationship with the sea, starting from the awareness that all things are inseparably interconnected. The sea contains history, life, others. Paraphrasing Alexander von Humboldt, the sea reflects totality. By advocating environmental rights and promoting sea and sports culture, Casa Vela takes on the primary function
of public space as “social capital,” going beyond the public-private dichotomy.