MDU Architetti has won an international design competition to deliver a new aquatics centre for the staging of the 2026 Mediterranean Games in the Italian city of Taranto.
The Italian studio has emerged victorious from a process that attracted 37 proposals in the first stage. This was whittled down to five finalists, with MDU seeing off competition from Marazzi Architetti, Populous, Cecchetto & Associati and 3TI Progetti Italia.
The Taranto 2026 Organising Committee had announced the international competition in order to raise the quality of the multi-sport event through the development of an iconic facility that could characterise the city’s waterfront and integrate with an area of considerable landscape interest.
MDU’s proposal is deemed to have met these goals. It will feature indoor and outdoor Olympic-standard swimming pools and is designed to integrate with the area intended as a coastal park, characterised by the presence of significant archaeological features and by the presence of the 18th century tower which is at the access point to the park.
The Judging Commission said: “Having examined the innovative and highly interesting schemes proposed by the 37 participants, in the winning project the perceptive integration with the sea and with the identity, historical and landscape context of the Torre d’Ayala area is commendable.
“The designed complex stands out for its recognisable but balanced architectural ‘iconic nature’, which gives this new public city attraction a significant potential for reconfiguration and regeneration of the urban realm.
“In particular, the articulation between collective outdoor spaces and specialised indoor spaces has been developed in a coherent and innovative way, organising in a clear and effective manner the flows linked to the use of sports and those linked to the distribution paths of the different functions included.
“The proposed functional and programmatic choices are particularly coherent and effective in terms of flexibility and innovation. Together with the construction and material choices, the technological and plant engineering solutions adopted, in particular for the intelligent use of water and energy prefigure a highly sustainable scenario for the Stadio del Nuoto di Taranto also with a view to long-term use and management, as a legacy of the Taranto 2026 Games.”
MDU will now need to submit further design documents by June 23 in order to continue the project. Rinaldo Melucci, Mayor of Taranto, said, according to the Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno: “This is an exercise in style that satisfies both architectural and landscape needs, offering us the vision of a renovated waterfront while, at the same time, integrated into the existing one.
“It is another piece of the road we are taking with great commitment to restore to our city its role as the nerve centre of the Mediterranean. The Games have above all this aim, even before being a sports event at an international level.”
Taranto 2026 in November presented plans for a 16,500-seat stadium and a 7,000-capacity arena to host competitions during the event.