A marina should be memorable for its activity rather than for its form. It has to be visible, easy to understand and to use. Hence the clarity of its forms, but also the soft curves of its limits in floor plan and section; hence also the attention to night lighting. The various works built for the Universal Forum of Cultures include some spectacular buildings; perhaps it was this that generated the desire for spaces that are visually simple rather than seeking to impress.
Many of the commercial buildings were designed to house Forum activities in 2004. It was only after the event that the Mar, or Sea, building was constructed on the Eastern wharf in the outer port.
The process began with the design of a series of commercial constructions without façades produced by tectonic manipulation of the site. The roofs of the commercial premises were turned into public space, prime vantage points overlooking the harbour. A few premises were built on the waterfront to expand the commercial and spatial potential of the public marina space.
The marina’s urban design sets out to establish clear uses for each area. Urban materials and vegetation are employed in areas used by the public. A more spartan approach is applied in the purely industrial sectors, however, with street lighting that offers a counterpoint in the form of its arbitrary groupings and inclinations. The street furniture on the terraces above the commercial premises is simplified to the maximum: a single element provides a range of functions: lighting, seating, railing, table and housing for ventilation ducts.
The use of materials also reflects some restraint: port architecture uses concrete in generous, sweeping gestures, and the weathering of Cor-ten steel suggests the image of a great ship washed up on the shore after a storm.