Naples Beyond Oil: New Design Approaches in the Era of Retiring Landscapes

Paolo de Martino, Carola Hein, Michelangelo Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


Cities and landscapes around the world are the result of many centuries of human interventions. They are a spatial palimpsest of events and processes that have modified the formation of landscapes and cities and, in some cases, even erased what others had previously done (Corboz, 1998). The insertion of spaces of oil into the existing territory used existing patterns and created new ones, giving rise to a palimpsestic global petroleumscape that links production and management of industrial flows through a particular configuration of space (C. Hein, 2013, 2018). Throughout the twentieth century, as oil became a key player in the transformation of space, it helped the emergence of diverse spaces, ranging from industrial sites to headquarters and cultural facilities. In the network of oil spaces, port cities have taken on a particular role. The petroleum industry used the ports to access the hinterland. They built oil related structures, such as oil tanks, pipelines and industrial and sometimes administrative buildings nearby, often in the vicinity of dense urban environments (C. Hein, 2013). These landscapes are characterized by fragmentation, a term proposed by the urbanist Bernardo Secchi (B. Secchi, 2000) to describe a spatial condition that belongs to the contemporary cities. Here, left-over of contaminated industrial landscapes form a set of fragments with a high potential for change. In this situation, utopian scenarios designed to present possibilities of change can help envisioning a reality better than the current one (B. Secchi & Viganò, 2009). Previous design experiences have been carried out for the cities of Rotterdam and Dunkirk (C. Hein, 2017, 2019; C. Hein & De Martino, 2018). In 2018, the studio built upon an ongoing collaboration with Michelangelo Russo from the Department of Architecture of Federico II in Naples. The students from TU Delft took their analysis notably to the eastern part of Naples. Historical choices, urban activities and socio-economic relationships characterize a strategic area in Eastern Naples, where the city becomes landscape (Russo, 2014, 2016). In this area, the port faces a problem of relationship with the city, resulting in discontinuity and fragmentation for the waterfront areas. East Naples, and specifically the area of oil storage of Q8 called “Ambito 13”, is a critical area as it covers a huge space in between the city and the peripheral residential areas of Ponticelli and Barra (previous image). The oil refinery and oil tanks in this area separate the city center from the rest of the Eastern city. Here, commercial and oil flows intertwine with heavily urbanized areas. However, this mosaic of different landscapes and relations also has great potentiality for redevelopment (next image). Both the Naples Municipality and the Central Tyrrhenian Sea Port System [1] are vying for this site. Their competing interests present an opportunity to rethink the port-city relationship, to redevelop the abandoned oil-related industrial areas, and to re-launch East Naples as a new place for urban living. The studio therefore asked the following question: How can port and city use the container port extension – beyond the presence of the oil sites – as an opportunity for an era beyond oil?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalPortus (online)
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • ports
  • waterfront
  • harbourscape
  • naples
  • beyond oil
  • interface


Dive into the research topics of 'Naples Beyond Oil: New Design Approaches in the Era of Retiring Landscapes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this