Max Fabiani was a cosmopolitan architect and city planner who spoke three languages, had Slovene-Italian-Austrian roots, was born near the city of Štanjel in the Karst region. He brought the ideas behind Vienna’s famous ‘Secession’ to Slovenia and Trieste and was, above and beyond that, a dynamic, hands-on city  planner. In this capacity he turned to Bartoli, an engineer and Mayor of Trieste, in 1953: “…Trieste is a  commercial center of immense significance and enormous development possibilities: a thousand-year old  organism that has survived all its diverse governments and tripled its population. That gives the city the right and the duty to do what must be done in order to:
  • organize itself in free and modern ways for future commercial, industrial and port authority
  • to secure for itself a sufficient geographical reach for this purpose in all directions (at least
    40 km: Koper is just a suburb of Trieste);
  • to establish both natural and defense-oriented borders in order to ensure the ongoing existence
    and tranquil work of the city.”


Thus began the personal collaboration between architect and mayor which led the way to urban visions of a 600,000-inhabitant city which, in the light of today, was an exemplary concept of the future:
  • The municipal ordering of the city with a ring road, access to the hills via funicular railways
    and chair lifts, creation of an Underground transportation system
  • Organization of the port extending to a length of 50 km, from the delta of the Isonzo as far as
  • Expansion of the railway network.


Unfortunately, this ambitious final example of visionary city planning was never officially passed and had no concrete, productive effects on the development of the city in the decades which followed. Seventy years later, Trieste – contrary to Fabiani’s/ Bartoli’s hypothesis – has become a “shrinking city.” Thus, we stand at a crossroads today, are able to rethink, reconceive this fabulous municipality and fortunately, the city is  beginning to recover. Every change, every shift of orientation in human goals, is a difficult undertaking. Our societies tend to mobilize, find the necessary motivation to question what exists, maybe even change it, only in a crisis. That means, the signs are now positive. In summer 2018, Giulia Decorti and Peter Lorenz
introduced the project known as COSTA TRIESTINA, which contains numerous city planning visions and proposals. Originally conceived as the starting shot for an urban discourse about perspectives for the coming decades, it foresees additional studies being conducted about imminent city plans. New
cooperations and measures to ensure quality are the next step, followed by a detailed masterplan
which includes zoning specifications and building plan specifications. Some of these ideas can be
implemented immediately, others require more time, additional efforts, new initiatives. The city is
in the final phase of being a “shrinking city” – it isturning into a “growing city.” That change of paradigm
is anything but easy, yet it is unavoidable. Every successful city has developed first and foremost through the strength of ideas and the new concepts which gave birth to it. The European city is the most significant masterpiece of humankind, and has become a highly complex being nowadays. Trieste is a particularly effectual example of what things bold visions and outstanding city design can accomplish. City planners have a difficult task in democracies, sometimes we expect the impossible of them. In recent decades, Holland’s so-called “cooperative planning” was born and has found its way into European thinking, even as far as Vienna, the mother city of Trieste. It is hoped that this gift to the city of Trieste will  initiate a public debate about the future of Portovecchio and Trieste in general. May the best argument win the day! In principle, humanistic city planning is much like human health: it is human beings and their future which are at stake. That is what must stand at the focus of our thoughts and our decisions.
LOCATION Trieste, Italy
DATE 2018


28 JUNE 2018