renzo piano's new cetaceans pavilion arrives in genoa
renzo piano's new cetaceans pavilion arrives in genoa renzo piano's new cetaceans pavilion arrives in genoa
aug 09, 2013

renzo piano's new cetaceans pavilion arrives in genoa

renzo piano’s new cetaceans pavilion arrives in genoa
photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment




renzo piano has designed a new addition to the seaside acquario di genova. dubbed the ‘cetaceans pavilion,’ the 94 meter long  and 28 meter wide concrete structure is dedicated to the study and display of dolphins, whales and porpoises complete with a series of open-air tanks viewable from layered upper level decks. sporting an overall deceptively low profile, the seven level building is a feat of architectural aquatic engineering, rising just three meters above sea level despite its full seven storey elevation. constructed partially off-site, all 26,000 tons of the architecture were dramatically tugged to the antique port and fully assembled in the voltri shipyard. the space brings the grand total exhibition area of the aquarium to 27,000 square meters and has made for the additional showcase of etruscan and roman artifacts unearthed from the seabed. the objects further flesh out the ancient history of genoan commercial activity.




transfer from voltri to the old port of genoa
photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment




sited between the existing building and the grande nave blu, the new pavilion maintained an overall architectonic goal of visual lightness manifested in part by a seemingly low band of glazing that characterizes the southern facade. the orthogonal glass ribbon is also offset to fit a walkaway framed by two low staff towers connected to the existing aquarium and all composed so as to maintain an unencumbered genoan skyline. aside from the open tanks, the facility contains a main exhibition hall, nursery chamber and medical tank– all filled with purified sea water– which can accommodate up to 10 bottlenose dolphins. circulation and the succession of tanks are designed to allow visitors a new type of interaction wight he dolphins– from above with the promenade and open volumes as well as via a glass tunnel that runs throughout he 520 square meter main chamber. additionally, a 24 meter-long glass wall can be opened to allow aquarium-goers to listen to the dolphin’s communicative sounds. the building has also been fitted with platforms for patrons with disabilities and a smartphone app. the cetaceans pavilion is now open to visitors and will bolster the 24 hour usage of porto antico.



in section, the building maintains a deceptively low profile
photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment



the cetaceans pavilion was towed by tug boat from voltri to the east end of the port taking 8-9 hours for transfer
photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment



aerial view of the pavilion arriving at its final destination
photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment



new cetaceans pavilion in genoa’s harbour
photo by stefano goldberg / publifoto
image © RPBW



photo by stefano goldberg / publifoto
image © RPBW



photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment



architect renzo piano walking through one of the half tunnels
photo by merlo fotografia
image courtesy of costa edutainment



the construction of renzo piano’s padiglione cetacei
video courtesy of acquario village



  • Cetaceans are highly intelligent, self aware social creatures. It is abhorrent for them to be imprisoned in a tank for human “infotainment”. A firm such as Pianos can no doubt afford to decline this work. That it chose not to, greatly diminishes my respect for them.

    Peter says:
  • Shame that we still are building expansive structures only for making business with dolphins, in times where all around the world the people begins to understand that these magnificent creatures are wild and belong only to the oceans.
    Shame that M$ business still has the same speech about “understanding” and “science” (the Japanese think they’re still fooling the world with their so-called “Research for cetaceans”, allowing them to kill thousands of whales every year, only driven by greed, and thanks to SSCS to prevent this massacre!), “entertainment” and “studying”.
    It’s a shame that those people try to make children believe that dolphins are just made for their fun, instead it’s for their greed.
    Shame on Renzo Piano (whose work I admire besides) to give his skills for such a hideous and greedy cause!
    I’m ashamed to be a human being when I see this!

    Geoffroy GALLIOT says:
  • This appears to be a brilliant technical and esthetic solution to the aquarium genre. That said, it is very, very disappointing however to see another “seaworld” info-entertainment venue featuring very highly intelligent aquatic mammals in captivity, taking them away from their families and social groups is something that is incredibly cruel to these sentient beings. Shameful!!! As an aside, the editors of the article would do well to PROOF-READ their work prior to publishing – with all the typos & misspellings.

    mArkW says:
  • I look forward to designboom every day, but a prison for cetaceans is not my cup of tea.

    Fred A. Saas, Architect says:
  • Great. Famous architect glorifying wild creatures kept in captivity. See the new movie “Blackfish” to see what a sad idea this was to involve captive animals in his resume.

    lucinda johnson says:
  • How about a thought experiment…imprison some dozends of humans, all naked, in tiled rooms with huge windows for the public. Some dead tree trunks for entertainment, a corner with hay to youknowwhatimean. Daily cleaning with high pressure water. No beds, leave nests, rocks to hide…nothing. No sun, no wind.
    Try to let them have sex, to reproduce, for the entertainment. Film this, publish this in youtube.
    I’d take part in this as a protest against imprisoning cetaceans and monkeys, apes etc. For some days or a week. In the middle of a big city in Europe.

    Dirk16 says:

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