Mimetic Urbanism

Restructuring of the ex-Magazzini Generali area of Verona

(Competition project, 2000)

In the early 1900s a major urban agglomeration developed to the south of Verona, beyond the walls of the old city. The industrial base for this growth was the processing and distribution of agricultural produce from the city’s hinterland. The expansion was focused on the area around the extraordinary sequence of warehouse buildings and extensive rail yards that served this industry. This project presents a new urban proposal for these rail yards and warehouses, which now lie derelict. As well as responding to demands for facilities for the Verona Fair (whose principal buildings lie across the Viale del Lavoro from the warehouse zone), it provides a series of park and civic spaces and services currently lacking from Verona South. Taking the idea of Verona South as a kind of extra-mural ‘double’ of the old walled city, a set of four mimetic urban strategies are developed which exploit the transformative potential of the copy. These mimetic processes, which iterate between the source and the new condition, are described via a series of ‘animation frames’. The project takes elements in the existing urban texture (the warehouses, church, rail lines, etc.) and resituates them. Using the mimetic strategies it draws them into a new configuration by working upon and shifting the contextual ground within which they are embedded. The project was competitively selected for exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale,