Thanks to our job, or simply for our pleasure, we often voyage throughout Italy. This allows us to admire the different architectural beauties spread across our Country, as well as the new architectural constructions that are both functional to the places where they have been built and which also constitute a tourist attraction.
We spent a whole day in the beautiful city of Salerno, one of the province districts of the Campania Region and the central point for the travels along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most famous areas in the world which attract millions of tourists every year.
A true architectural jewel was inaugurated in 2016, the Maritime Station designed by the Starchitect Zaha Hadid. Among her many recognitions, Zaha has also won both the Excellence in Design award by the American Instute of Architects and the Architizer A+Awards jury prize, in 2017. We could not resist the temptation to visit it.
A sculptural work with a great visual impact and a great architectural value stood in front of us, though its beauty and importance were overshadowed by the the visible signs of degradation and mismanagement. This was so evident that we were left with a sour taste in our mounth.
The structure was conceived as to represent an “oyster,” but all its charm is now faded away. Looking at the outside, it is clear that the original colours and the chromatic effects of the shell are no longer there, giving way to greyish, pallid tones. The first signs of negligence are already visible at the entrance, where the wide entrance staircase shows many peeled sections and different cracks along the large concrete slabs. In addition, some of the external staircases leading to the upper floors are significantly devoured by rust.
The signage is sloppy and unstable, and those designed for visually impaired person or possible dangers are even neglected.
The choice of the interior decoration reflects a mix of tastes that strays to the ordinary, resulting in an unpleasant feeling of being in a poorly furnished living room rather than in an European port of call that should represent an innovation for southern Italy.
We were speechless in front of the numerous internal cracks that invade ceilings and walls, even affecting some parts of the outer side of the “oyster”. It appears that there are water seepages, given the presence of the numerous damp stains on walls and floors. Windows show traces of oxidations, as well as the presence of several damaged glass panes.
The general lack of maintenance and care of this architectural asset is more than evident, an architectural asset that is primarily a public good to be preserved. The improper maintenance is amplified by the presence of the sea nearby which causes a faster deterioration of the structure. Codacons has even issued a warning to the Municipality, asking it to take urgent action to ensure that the building is properly maintained.
The deterioration of Zaha Hadid's Maritime Station is an alarm bell for the status of our public assets, underlining the need for more investment in the maintenance and protection of our architectural heritage. The photos we have taken are meant to shake people's minds and make them understand that the collective good is indispensable for our future. Architectural structures of this kind must become functional to the entire community, and this can be achieved only by giving them the right social and economic value.
We do hope that the beautiful architecture designed by Zaha Hadid will soon shine again in the wonderful Gulf of Salerno.