Arriving to Santa Margherita Ligure from the sea, one remains deeply impressed by the openness and vitality of its port: it still evokes the historical relationship between the city and the sea catalysing the social, economic and environmental life.

Widening our sight horizon, it was decided to develop a vision that, while preserving the historical identity and landscape of Santa Margherita, should not end by the port only, but also propose concrete strategies and actions for the development of the city: the continuity of the esplanade from the breakwater harbour to the lighthouse, the revitalisation of the Castle in its historical relationship with the sea, the seasonal adjustment of tourism and the re-naturalisation of the south coast.

The intervention of the port requires a targeted and sustainable action that, besides from the safety of the docks and the piers, is able to face new urban dynamics, without altering the balance between the historical environment and the natural characteristic of the Port of Santa Margherita as a “sanctuary port”. In this context, the main player in the definition of the project is the sea: it is a tourist attraction (by increasing the beach surface), a source for sustainable energy (using its thermal inertia) and a temperature controller (mitigating winter temperatures and fostering the summer breezes).

The real value of working with the port is also that of contributing to the re-naturalisation of the inner harbour (the south coast) and its connection to the whole city. The use of the waterfront has been extended by creating a linear garden as well as a square on the sea (Piazza sul Mare) in the former Spertini area, allowing regaining the sea view, even when passing by with the car along Via Garibaldi driving towards Portofino.

In a situation as complex and delicate as this, where landscape, environment, history and architecture are being merged, the proposal is based on a light, systematic, truly sustainable (in economic, social and environmental terms) design, heading towards a renewed relationship between the city and the sea.

Santa Benessere & Social S.p.A.

Project team:
Carlo Berio
Alessandro Chini,
Milan Ingegneria
United Consulting,

OBR design team:
Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi,
Edoardo Allievi, Polina Arendarchuk,
Paola Berlanda, Francesco Cascella,
Andrea Casetto, Giorgio Cucut,
Paride Falcetti, Malgorzata Labedzka,
Michele Marcellino, Iñigo Paniego,
Nicole Passarella, Michele Renzini,
Elisa Siffredi, Marianna Volsa,
Giulia Zatti

Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

site area 178,288 sqm
built surface 13,345 sqm

2019 detailed design
2015 concept design
2014 preliminary design