Renzo Piano to oversee building of new Genoa bridge after tragedy that claimed 43 lives

Renzo Piano, the architect renowned for The Shard in London, is to direct the building of a new bridge in Genoa to replace the one that collapsed in August with the loss of 43 lives.

Mr Piano, 81, who comes from the port city in northern Italy, has said he will work for free on the new structure, which will replace the ill-fated Morandi bridge.

“It will last for 2,000 years,” he told Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview on Wednesday.

“Bridges should not collapse. It will need to reunite a city that has been divided and to sustain pride. It will be a homage to the city I love.”

The new bridge, which is expected to cost €202 million (£182 million), is scheduled to open in 2020.

"We’ll see it built by the end of next year and we’ll inaugurate it at the start of 2020," saidDanilo Toninelli, Italy’s transport and infrastructure minister.

Mr Piano, who was in Genoa on the day of the disaster, is regarded as one of the world’s most innovative architects.

His projects have included the New York Times Building in New York, the futuristic-looking Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia and, together with Richard Rogers, the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

The contract to build the new bridge was awarded on Tuesday to a consortium consisting of three Italian construction companies: Italferr, Fincantieri and Salini Impreglio.

It will be based on a design that was drawn up by Mr Piano in the weeks after the disaster, in which cars and trucks plunged to the ground when a central section of the bridge collapsed during a storm.

The new bridge will be illuminated by 43 tall light posts placed at regular intervals – one for each victim of the tragedy.

It will have “elements of a boat” in its design to reflect Genoa’s proud maritime history, Mr Piano said.

Italy is notorious for the snail’s pace at which many of its infrastructure projects progress, often hampered by red tape, infighting between government agencies and institutional dysfunction.

Marco Bucci, the mayor of Genoa, urged the companies involved to get on with the job as quickly as possible.

“This tragedy brought us to the notice of the whole world, sadly. Everyone will be watching the building of this bridge. If we do it well and within the scheduled time period, Italy will be able to recover an important piece of its credibility,” he said.

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