Bari | BariCentrale by Fuksas

It could be a long wait before anything actually happens, down in Bari, but they do have a plan. A masterplan, in fact, to reconnect the parts of a city divided by the railway, masterfully drawn up by none less than Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas. Almost a year ago, the port city and Apulian regional capital announced the winner of an international competition for ideas on how to sort out the mess that is Bari – or at least how to limit the impact of a main station and multiple tracks running in and out of it which have effectively hindered links between the old city and more recent expansion, and generated urban decay.

Fuksas‘ winning project, predictably enough, is a radical and definitive solution: it bridges the tracks, plants enough vegetation to make the city one of the greenest in the country, throws in sustainable transport systems and raises a brand new culture complex just behind a completely renovated central station. Which is why it may take a while. According to the masterplan, only 4 sets of tracks run through the new main station: they’re still above ground but are covered and concealed by a gently-sloping elevated park traversed by pedestrian and cycle paths with views over the city and out to sea. Bari’s very own Central Park occupies an area of 70 hectares over a length of 3 kilometres and transforms blighted zones, literally on the wrong side of the tracks, into futuristic social and cultural spaces. Trees and plants are intended to attract local fauna and reduce the urban heat island effect too.

The 19th-century station structure and its façade stay put, but are integrated into a new system of public facilities including shops, restaurants, the park itself and the new culture complex. The latter, with spanking new structures alongside a restored barracks, includes a theatre and library, sports and leisure spaces, studios for fine arts students, an exhibition space, a large auditorium and a smaller concert hall linked to the existing academy of music. All this with state-of-the-art green credentials, needless to say: 80% emissions reduction, nearly zero-energy buildings as defined by the EU and an integrated energy system based on a smart grid. A dawn chorus and squirrels cavorting around Bari Centrale? No harm in dreaming…