Islands have always exerted a strong fascination, stimulating our fantasies and nourishing since dawn the narrative of the poetic and imaginary world of literature. They have inspired myths and legends which, without losing in seduction over the decades, have never ceased to titillate the curiosity of entire generations. Atlantis and its mysteriously vanished civilization is an example of that charismatic longevity which, from Plato, has continued to survive in science fiction stories and films, to the most recent video games, without ever weakening its sound. seductive and magnetic appeal.
There is certainly another aspect which made one dream: these points scattered in the sea in total isolation, impossible to reach, represented the opportunity to manifest aspirations, sleeping desires. But the magic of landing in a different and unexplored dimension does not stop there, in the intoxicating promise of the unknown and of adventure: the condition of absolute solitude, far from a civilized life, obligations and restrictions. , promises an Eden of total freedom and absolute happiness, and for some unspoiled paradises, where to test oneself or to find oneself.
In this regard, a film has recently been released which tells a true and very unusual event, the incredible story of the ‘The island of roses‘. About fifty years ago, a young engineer from Bologna, Giorgio Rosa, had the idea of creating, with the help of a classmate, an artificial platform in front of the coast of Rimini, outside the Italian territorial waters, where to live according to its own rules. With a small group of supporters, who joined the adventure by chance, he assigned his micro-nation an official language, government, currency and postcode, personally going to the United Nations headquarters in the hope to obtain independent state recognition for its small island. Although he had received threats and attempted bribery, he did not give up and, on the advice of his girlfriend, an expert in international law, decided to submit his case to Strasbourg. The Italian government, worried about setting a precedent, occupied and ultimately demolished the platform. The episode is sobering, even if in the film the protagonist does not appear as a revolutionary rebel, an anarchist eager to live far from institutional rules and obligations, but a hopelessly idealistic young inventor, who does not want to give up a dream that everyone believes to be a utopia, his desire to “to see the roses blooming on the sea”.
It’s a long latent desire, to ‘an ambition’, if we want to use the term expressed by the patron, that in New York was born the artificial island on the Hudson River, costing $ 260 million, and another 120 for its upkeep, a gift billionaire Barry Diller made to his compatriot nationals. Controversies and innuendos inevitably erupted about this generous philanthropic gesture, and those pleasures promised by the incredible location that someone, provoked by the amount spent, compared them to “the pleasures of a penthouse at the obscene price“, In an equally elitist field aiming to recreate”the spectator-spectacle dynamic which is the essence of urban narcissism ”. Little appreciated by many, the project has been compared to ” a painting by Monet seated on a DalI sculpture “and a lot has been ironic about the modules ‘tulip pot’, 132 precast concrete piles, weighing up to 68 tonnes each, used as supports for the “leaf floating on water ”, offered in blooming flowers: an enormous quantity of concrete which required logistical operations difficult to justify.
Diller, contacted in 2012 to contribute financially to the reconstruction of Pier 54, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, responded that he did not consider it appropriate to help with the redevelopment of the pier since it would likely no longer be usable for mooring boats, but he had an idea, which he had harbored for some time, that could visually become an icon on the New York waterfront. An international competition was launched, and in 2014 revealed the winning project which encountered a series of long protracted legal battles, pitted by those who were concerned about environmental sustainability, protecting aquatic wildlife and those against a also high budget commitment. for long-term maintenance of the park. The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation then agreed to provide the park for the next 20 years, until new sponsors were found, also paying for the entire program of recreational initiatives offered on the island. After more than seven years, last May, ‘Small island‘, as it is called, was officially inaugurated. Defined by some as “New York’s final airstrip for theater, music, art and ambition“, the large expanse of 2.4 hectares of green meadows and hills, paths and resting places among 350 different species of shrubs, flowers and trees, despite the ostentation of a series of wonders, continues to receive negative responses from the trade press and media that do not recognize it as the promised ecological and inclusive public space, seeing it only as a spectacular extravaganza.
If this project seems very ambitious, it is an even bigger one, announced as the most ambitious in the history of Denmark. Last year an agreement was signed on the creation of the first “Island of energy” in the world, which will be followed by another later: the first will appear in the Baltic Sea and the second in the North Sea. An area of 120,000 square meters will be dedicated to 200 giant offshore wind turbines which, exploiting the wind in the high seas, will produce electricity intended not only for Denmark but also for the surrounding countries. Danish industry has benefited from a “Pioneering position” in the wind sector in the past and continues to maintain it through these achievements. The initiative, which provides for one of the highest amounts in the country’s history, is part of the plan launched for many years to reduce pollutant emissions and to achieve the so-called ‘cenvironmental neutrality ” by 2050. Given the complexity of the implementation, the plant will probably not produce energy before 2033.
Alongside these mega programs, it is with great pleasure that we are currently witnessing many small but interesting proposals from a new generation of young Danish designers, who never cease to amaze us with the delicacy and sensitivity of their interventions, constantly in harmony with both the urban and human context. They face difficult environmental and social challenges, approaching dialogue with deep respect, revealing an ethically responsible conscience, a genuine spontaneous inclination towards a city and a healthier, greener, happier, more socially and culturally livable city and environment, without neglecting the lightness of the playfulness. From an idea, which uses simplicity and creativity to achieve a result that enchants us and captivates us by the softness of its delicate gestures, have sprouted the tiny floating wooden atolls, scattered or gathered in the southern port of Copenhagen, designed and produced by Australian architect Marshall Blecher and designer Magnus Maarbjerg of MAST, Maritime Architecture Studio. ‘Copenhagen Islands’ Where ‘Parkipelago‘, as its authors call it, is a set of modest realities that live separately but, thanks to the possibility of interlocking, like the pieces of a puzzle, can be grouped together in a continuous and compact configuration, like a scene floating for festivals, concerts and live events.
So many ingredients that make these islands truly special, the freshness of a shape that evokes the drawing of a child, a sophisticated research that knows how to retain the charm of ingenuity. It is with a natural spontaneity that they appear zigzagging and wandering along the current from one bank of the river to the other. Each tiny man-made oasis, in its apparent elementary aspect, hides an authentic dedication to the smallest detail, an incredible passionate commitment that followed every phase of the construction process: the initial prototype, called Ø1, approximately 20 m² in area, handmade with recycled materials material, using boat building techniques, is kept afloat thanks to 4,000 recycled plastic bottles with molds and beds of algae in the lower part, so as not to interrupt the continuity of a suitable habitat for fish and sea creatures. A synthesis of craftsmanship, simplicity and a close link with nature, an ultra green model created to offer with different “sisters”, united by the same DNA, but all with a different identity, more public spaces scattered around the area. town, platforms moored near the coast or distributed among the waters accessible by canoes, kayaks, boats, windsurfing or simply by swimming. A slender 6 meter tall lime tree, sponsored by Scandinavian Instant Trees, SITAS, a Danish company that helps plant trees in public spaces, shades its patio while subsequent cloning differs in gardens or mini forests, small flowery or aromatic plots where people sunbathe or sit down to fish, jump from a diving board or dive into the sea, have a picnic with friends or relax with a good book, or even enjoy a sauna. Freely accessible to everyone, even during the winter season with more land-based activities, the islets, colorful universes, anchored or moving, capable of satisfying the need for isolation or conviviality, are inspired by the desire to meet the most common needs. varied, offering a way to spend with pleasure and pleasure free time in the clear waters of the inner harbor and to revitalize abandoned parts. The project, commendable for its ability to communicate so naturally with the context and to complement the urban greenery like a true floating natural park, finds an intelligent way to catalyze and animate social life. Sometimes certain ideas, despite very limited budgets, can fill gaps, perhaps latent and satisfy less obvious but equally important needs, nurturing the pride and joy of belonging to very dynamic cities.
URBAN POWER architecture & town planning
Photos / Render: 08-12, Isle of Holmene, courtesy of URBAN POWER architecture & urbanism
“Islands of Copenhagen”
MAST (maritime architecture workshop)
Photos / Render: cover, 13-17, ‘Copenhagen Islands’, courtesy of MAST (maritime architecture workshop)
02: ‘The island of roses‘- Wiki / Public domain
03, 07: ‘Little Island’, New York, by Yoav Aziz / Unsplash
04-05: Little Island ‘, New York, by Ben Michel / Unsplash
06: Little Island ‘, New York, by Heber Galindo / Unsplash
07: Little Island ‘, New York, by Jean-Ange / Unsplash