The Regium Waterfront and the unmistakable touch of Zaha Hadid

The Regium Waterfront and the unmistakable touch of Zaha Hadid

Innovative and offbeat, an energetic character that led her to be demanding first of all with herself, a vision of architecture that made her conceive projects that seemed to belong to a personal and sci-fi fantasy of futurism, to a world made of speed, fluidity and lightness: Zaha Hadid was all this and much more. As free as the forms she drew, with her great works and her architecture that dart beyond the Cartesian paradigm of symmetry and right angles, she managed to make space among the archistars and become the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize in 2004.

Each of his projects encompasses Zaha’s values and principles, so much so that his style has become characteristic and unmistakable: an infinite sinuosity and synchronicity of curved lines molded on boundless, material, expressive, intense surfaces. All this can be admired and touched by hand in Reggio Calabria: between the Italo Falcomatà seafront and the port area, in that long strip of coast that looks out over the waters between Calabria and Sicily, design has become matter with the construction of the first part of the Regium Waterfront.


In 2008, the Reggio Municipal Administration launched an international competition for the redevelopment of the Waterfront area with a project that would enhance the coastline and increase the tourist potential of the city. In February 2009, in London the ceremony was held in which to the architects Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher were given the assignment, displacing the other 48 architectural firms that had participated. The project developed included two buildings, the Museum of the Sea and a Multifunctional Center, inserted in a large context of 50,000m2, in which public spaces are redeveloped, creating a sort of “landscape on the water” that connects the two buildings and where “The outside enters the inside” with a series of openings and courtyards overlooking the sea.

Since 2009, various events have taken place which have led to inaugurate now of this first part of the project; in the meantime, the municipal administration is working on step no. 2, that is the creation of the Sea Museum, whose design – in the words of Patrik Schumacher – is inspired by the organic forms of a starfish and favors “elongated, fluid and abstract shapes , with wavy and concave surfaces and spectacular entry points“.

But what does this redevelopment of public space bring? Certainly the elevation of the principles that inspired Zaha in the design phase, made of the right balance of cultural, social, functional and stylistic aspects: a place for recreation and discovery, destined to soon become a meeting point and a space socially active at all times, in which to develop relevant educational programs for all age groups. This area becomes a crossroads of cultures ready to respond to the interest of large tourist carriers focused on the experiential and economic potential of Reggio Calabria. The public space is an essential component of the city, which becomes a place of representation and functional expression to the urban structure, in this case through a set of elements such as the panoramic walk, the two squares, the staircase, the fountain, the historic Zerbi pine forest, the surface tramway, the new terminal, the panoramic pier and finally the car park with photovoltaic shelters.


With the realization of the Regium Waterfront work, the aim is to strengthen the role of the coastal zone on the entire Reggio area through the use of places previously marked by severe degradation. Now that the city of Reggio Calabria is ready to open its doors to Zaha Hadid’s art, we are sure that this project will bring a breath of innovation and cultural and architectural beauty to that area overlooking the sea, which mirrors mainland Italy and Sicily, and these reflections will also illuminate the surrounding territories.

Con la realizzazione dell’opera Regium Waterfront si aspira a rafforzare il ruolo dell’area costiera sull’intero territorio reggino attraverso modalità di fruizione di aree precedentemente segnate da forte degrado. Ora che la città di Reggio Calabria è pronta ad aprire le porte all’arte di Zaha Hadid siamo certi che questo progetto porterà una ventata di innovazione e bellezza culturale ed architettonica in quell’area affacciata sul mare che specchia l’Italia continentale e la Sicilia e questi riflessi illumineranno anche i territori circostanti.

If we wanted to connect the future of Reggio Calabria to the Regium Waterfront, the best quote that comes to mind dates back to 1942, when the silhouettes of Rick Blaine and Louis Renault go away together in the thick Casablanca fog, closing the film on the unforgettable phrase: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship ” (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, USA 1942).


Susanna Dei Rossi

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