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Livorno Port Center

Just a short one-hundred metre uphill walk from the main entrance of the Fortezza Vecchia and there it is, the Palazzina del Capitano, half way between the subterranean sectors and the second, and top floor, of the Medici fortress.

It opened its doors to the public on 3rd November, with an exhibition hall of 134 m2 hosting a modern and high-tech edutainment centre dedicated to the port of Livorno.

It recounts its history, the jobs done there and the traffic passing through the port.

This is the second port center to be built in Italy, after the one in Genoa, and is the culmination of the desire to promote a union between the city and the port. A port that is the driving economic force of an area that is home to a wide variety of businesses but whose complexity is a little hard to fathom.

The Port Center gives people the opportunity to experience and learn about the port through a series of important technological systems through which visitors can explore the different activities in an entertaining and attractive way.

The history of the Port
The origins and history of Livorno’s port are told through multiple projections on the exhibition room ceiling that launch a shower of images on unwary visitors. These show the salient moments of the port’s history, symbolized by iconic features that are repeated in the exhibition. The aim was to exploit the unusual bottom up perspective with visitors having to look up.
The presentation goes back to the origins of the port, the work done by the Medici, the Unifiication of Italy, while inter-war history is told in a panel on one side of the room. It is possible to interact with these panels by using your arm and hands to perform typical touch screen gestures such as swiping and zooming.

The “live” map
Another wall has a “live map” of the port showing vessel traffic. Here it is visitors can consult updated information such as the heading and speed for each vessel. It is possible to interact by means of an optic pen; by selecting the icon associated with each vessel, giving access to a range of data.

Port jobs
Another wall has a long scrolling screen that familiarizes visitors with the different activities carried out within the port (The Harbour Master, Pilots, linesmen, dockers, shipping agents, and so on).

Port goods

It has never been so entertaining to see what types and quantities of goods are handled in Livorno’s port. There is an display unit containing “story-telling” objects; each one has been chosen to represent the different category of goods, illustrating their origin, storage methods, techniques used for transportation and volumes shipped. The objects are contained in transparent cubes and are fitted with a radiofrequency emitters. When the object is moved from the display unit to the central base a video starts showing the origin of the goods, their relative traffic volumes and movements within the port. The level to which the transparent columns are filled is a visual representation of the quantities of that particular type of good handled in the port.

Containers, customs procedures and cruise traffic all to hand?

The Port Center will have a sector dedicated to the container in a graphic representation that reproduces an ordered stack of containers. A large video projection will have a time lapse of the loading and discharging of a container ship, while one side of a container will be opened to reveal a 32inch screen showing the history of containers. This can be activated by touching the sensors, highlighted by graphic icons, around the monitor.

Other panels will show visitors the various port processes and customs procedures, illustrating the most important aspects. There is also an interactive video projection with the principal phases of passenger traffic in the port of Livorno and the interaction of the port, city and hinterland as well as the connections with the main logistics hubs; the freight village and airport.

The Port Center is the fruit of the Porto Aperto project (set up in 2007 by Livorno’s Port Authority) and is the completion of a sequence of exhibition areas that includes a museum for historical vessels from Livorno housed at the old railway depot.