Venice Porto Marghera

Multimodal Hub in Venice

Location: Porto Marghera, Venice, Italy
Project Team: Osman Ural, Hamed Khosravi, 
Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin

The Municipality of Venice is a conflict of two identities. The weight of history upon is it’s greatest source of identity, but also it’s greatest source of loss of identity. In Tommaso Cartia’s (2018) article about Italian art historian and author Salvatore Settis, he explores Settis’ recent book If Venice Dies. It is a cautionary tale of how the historical city core of Venice has lost it’s essence due to the migration of people away from the island and to the hinterland. Overtourization, inflated housing costs, and lack of job opportunities have reduced the historic island to an empty shell where the only job you can really have involves servicing the thousands of tourists who visit every year. 

Porto Marghera

Most inhabitants flee to Mestre and Marghera, where the cost of life are lower and it’s transport networks more connected within itself and the region as a whole. Jane Archer’s (2017) article goes more into depth about this struggle over the soul of Venice, and the conflict that has defined the fight over it. This conflict of can be encapsulated in the treatment and perception of the cruise ships that pass through Venice. On one hand, Venetian residents and environmentalists alike argue that these ships cause pollution to the lagoon and are a an offense to the cultural heritage of Venice. Business leaders and elected officials however are worried that stopping the cruise ships from entering will hurt the city’s economy. How can these opposing sides come together in a compromise to solve these issues threatening their city and their way of life?

Site Plan Venice Port

A place to begin would be to reduce the pressure of the cruise ships on the island by moving them to Porto Marghera. It is an underused industrial zoned port area that has ample space for a new cruise port which could serve the tourists. The tourists who come out of this port could potentially activate new development opportunities to the area and act as a gateway to Venice and the region. In order for this gateway to be supported, more transit flows need to be included by increasing the transportation network of the city. By connecting the Marco Polo airport to the tram network, both tourist and business interests could more efficiently access Venice, Marghera, and Mestre. Integrating the high-speed train which goes to the island could also have its ridership benefit from its connection to the airport as well. 

If you also integrate bus lines and water ferries into this mix of flows in the gateway, you have the foundations for multimodal transfer hub. The following project is an exploration into how this multimodal transfer hub could take shape. It looks at the implications of its existence within the transportation network of Venice. It tries to figure out the potential ways in which the transit flows can be used to it’s advantage, and whether the multimodal transfer hub could be something more than just a piece of infrastructure. 

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To understand the circulatory impact of the new multimodal hub, the hierarchy and form of the current transportation network needs to be understood. According to Robertus Van Nes (2002), the current form is based on a linear model with a lot of stops and a terminus station on Venice island which transfers to a more radial network based on the ferries that traverse the lagoon. The apparent lack of direct connections to main points of attraction makes for longer traveling times and therefore reduces overall ridership as alternative modes of transportation can be less time consuming and cheaper overall. A way to alleviate this problem is replacing the Forte Marghera Station with a multimodal hub which will allow passengers from Marghera to bypass Mestre altogether and reach either the Marco Polo Airport or the Piazzale Roma with ease. The increased access to the Porto Marghera area will also improve the network and activate potential development to an otherwise isolated area.

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In order to link all the existing transportation networks in Venice, the implementation of a multimodal transit hub is necessary. According to Qi Li (2016), a multimodal transit hub is a structure which hosts different modes of transportation from which a similar product, in this case transit passengers, are distributed. But how will the implementation of this hub help regenerate the Porto Marghera area? The theoretical framework behind implementing a multimodal hub in Porto Marghera is based on the ideas of transit-oriented development (TOD). According to Zane Bishop (2015), this type of development can create more sustainable cities because of the many benefits it provides. Areas with close proximity to efficiently planned transportation infrastructures tend to have less urban sprawl, have more efficient land use, increased ridership in mass-transit networks, and have revitalized neighborhoods spurred on by economic development due to increased land values and opportunities.

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How will this multimodal hub achieve the benefits that transit-oriented development can provide? Reconnecting America’s Center for Transit-Oriented Development (2008) developed guidelines to help decision making when designing transit stations. Different actions are recommended to be taken are based on the location, density, diversity of surrounding functions, and intensity of activity. Based on the proposed location for the new Porto Marghera multimodal hub, the TOD place type is a Special Use District, which needs to have a concentrations of commercial, civic, and cultural uses. TOD also requires the area around the station to be planned with certain principles in mind, such as making accessible and attractive public spaces, have efficient parking, and maximizing neighborhood and station connectivity. The new Porto Marghera multimodal hub will therefore become not just a transfer terminal, but will also become an attraction point of recreational and sociocultural functions.

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This will allow people to transfer seamlessly from one mode of transportation to another, but will also act as an attractor for more connections and modes of transportation. The proposed intervention is determined to be a replacement for the Porto Marghera Train Station, which will be moved from its current location next to the VEGA technology park. The new location for this station will allow for it to act not as a local station, but as a conduit between the Venice and the world. This will be achieved by adding both an extension to the Marghera tram line to the hub and a new connection to the Marco Polo Airport, while also providing a transfer location for ferries and water taxis for broader and more comprehensive connections to Venice and the islands around it.

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The hub will also take advantage of the hyper-connectivity of this strategic position by creating a new cruise ship port that will displace the one currently in Venice. This will allow tourists from the cruise ships to directly access multiple transportation networks in a direct and comfortable way. The new port will also allow for the re-directing of cruise ship routes by taking them through front of the Port of Marghera. This will limit the physical and environmental damage that is done by cruise ships around the historical parts of Venice and the lagoon that surrounds it. The hyper-influx of tourists at this location will also provide and audience which can create new programmatic potentialities that could re-activate the Porto Marghera area. 

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The flow of tourists could also make the transfer station not just an infrastructural object, but a destination point where social and recreational functions intersect. The strategic location of the hub also happens to sit between Forte Marghera, Parco San Giulano, and the planned bird sanctuary within the ecological corridor. This location gives motivation for the creation of ecotourism centric developments within the transfer station. Elements such as a visitor center for the bird sanctuary, berths for small boats and kayaks, restaurants, exhibition spaces, an entertainment venue, and a hotel will allow for the hub to transcend to more than just infrastructural space, but as Jane Jacobs (1961) describes as a clash of economic and social diversities which brings a sense of vitality that is fundamental in placemaking.

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