Qui se souvient de Venise

Project

The lagoon territory, initially protective for the city of Venice, has now become a threat. This unstable environment, between land and sea, has been continually transformed so that the precarious balance, which benefits the city, can be maintained. It was from the 20th century onwards that human intervention became an aggravating factor. The city’s over-exploitation of tourism, such as the gigantic liners crossing the Giudecca Canal and the industrial port of Marghera, are the two regional causes of the territorial transformations that have been verified, resulting in an increase in the number of acqua alta. Exploitation is part of a globalized system that makes regional-scale decisions even more complex when global warming and global sea-level rise are taken into account. These factors remain subject to international political decisions. Disaster risks in Venice concern those who cause them. It is in order to maintain sources of profits that the safeguard plans are put in place. The MOSE project testifies to this.

The project is directly in line with this context, which is delaying an outcome that remains fatal for the city of Venice. He is part of a trend of our time, expressing himself in cinema and science fiction literature, which testifies to our obsession with an imminent or inevitable end of the world. The project is therefore part of a pessimistic and tragic scenario but remains a source of hope. It also raises awareness by showing what Venice could become if our current model is not challenged. The project is part of a current context and then accompanies a dystopic scenario. This narrative speculation allows us a journey towards the end of Venice.

The project is an extension of the unfinished Palazzo Venier Dei Leoni, now the Guggenheim Museum in Venice. It is located on the Grand Canal and its construction is estimated around 1750. Only the ground floor was completed and then abandoned for unknown reasons. The first life of the project is based on a triple program. These three programs are represented by three constructions that work together. The egg, central structure is designed as a floating element. It is in its heart that the Venetians will come to deposit the objects they wish to see preserved. It represents the element that will survive in Venice and host the objects or works of art chosen to be transmitted and preserved after the city’s flood. It must become the witness of a forgotten civilization and city. Underneath the egg, which serves as its base, the extension of the Guggenheim in black brick, will house a meeting and conference room dedicated to the project as well as a ceremony room and an archive room for the deposit forms to be completed for each deposited object. The depot is accompanied by a ceremony to make the act of transmission an experience. It is an event of sharing and hope. It is the fragments of a city put in image by all the chosen objects that best represent the soul of the city and its inhabitants that are entrusted to the future of the world. These objects are then placed in the egg. Their multitude, accompanied by testimonies, will represent a sensitive cartography of the city characterized by its own inhabitants, unlike the postcard image that we are used to seeing for Venice.

The third building comes like a bottom at the back of the egg. It is directly linked to it because its base will serve as a fastener or concrete dead body when it floats above the sunken city. The floors above this base house exhibition rooms that are in addition to the existing Guggenheim Museum. Each set will be able to host an immersive and experiential work in the style of James Turell or Olafur Eliason. These are works of art that give us an experience of the current state of the world, they raise the visitor’s awareness through the experience of global warming and its consequences. These three structures are designed on different time scales. Their life time will be linked to the rise of the waters. The whole thing will finally disappear and let the floating egg emerge. At a certain level of rising water, the body will fill with water, which will anchor it in the ground to allow the egg to come and position itself above, held by a chain.

Interview

What prompted the project?

The lagoon territory, initially protective for the city of Venice, has now become a threat. This unstable environment, between land and sea, has been continually transformed so that the precarious balance, which benefits the city, can be maintained. It was from the 20th century onwards that human intervention became an aggravating factor. The city’s over-exploitation of tourism, such as the gigantic liners crossing the Giudecca Canal and the industrial port of Marghera, are the two regional causes of the territorial transformations that have been verified, resulting in an increase in the number of acqua alta. Exploitation is part of a globalized system that makes regional-scale decisions even more complex when global warming and global sea-level rise are taken into account. These factors remain subject to international political decisions. Disaster risks in Venice concern those who cause them. It is in order to maintain sources of profits that the safeguard plans are put in place. The MOSE project testifies to this.

My project is directly in line with this context, which is delaying an outcome that remains fatal for the city of Venice. He is part of a trend of our time, expressing himself in cinema and science fiction literature, which testifies to our obsession with an imminent or inevitable end of the world. The project is therefore part of a pessimistic and tragic scenario but remains a source of hope. It also raises awareness by showing what Venice could become if our current model is not challenged. The project is part of a current context and then accompanies a dystopic scenario. This narrative speculation allows us a journey towards the end of Venice.

What informed the choice of Palazzo Venier Dei Leoni as 'site'?

The project is an extension of the unfinished Palazzo Venier Dei Leoni, now the Guggenheim Museum in Venice. It is located on the Grand Canal and its construction is estimated around 1750. Only the ground floor was completed and then abandoned for unknown reasons.
I chose this palace because of its high visibility on the banks of the Grand Canal, which is important for conveying a message that raises awareness about the future of Venice. An unfinished Venetian Palace is a magical site for an architect who wishes to build in Venice

What defined the triple program which constitutes the first life of the project?

The first life of the project is based on a triple program. The primary goal is to raise awareness and preserve a certain heritage. These three programs are represented by three constructions that work together. The egg, central structure is designed as a floating element. It is in its heart that the Venetians will come to deposit the objects they wish to see preserved. It represents the element that will survive in Venice and host the objects or works of art chosen to be transmitted and preserved after the city’s flood. It must become the witness of a forgotten civilization and city. Underneath the egg, which serves as its base, the extension of the Guggenheim in black brick, will house a meeting and conference room dedicated to the project as well as a ceremony room and an archive room for the deposit forms to be completed for each deposited object. The depot is accompanied by a ceremony to make the act of transmission an experience. It is an event of sharing and hope. The third building comes like a bottom at the back of the egg. It is directly linked to it because its base will serve as a fastener or concrete dead body when it floats above the sunken city. The floors above this base house exhibition rooms that are in addition to the existing Guggenheim Museum. Each set will be able to host an immersive and experiential work in the style of James Turell or Olafur Eliason. These are works of art that give us an experience of the current state of the world, they raise the visitor’s awareness through the experience of global warming and its consequences.

How does the form and design of these elements relate to the Venetian context? Can we draw a parallel between the egg and the cupola?

The primary goal of this project is to raise awareness. The extension had to be visible and appear in strong contrast to the rest of the city. It is a building that must shock by the originality of its shape compared to the existing one. The form must question the visitor about the future of Venice.

L’oeuf est tout d’abord la symbolique de la naissance ou de la renaissance pour Venise mais cette forme n’est pas seulement symbolique. La partie haute de l’œuf possède les même proportions que le dôme de la basilica di santa Maria della Salute. Lorsque Venise sera sous les eaux seul les dômes des églises resteront visible à la surface, l’oeuf flottant viendra s’ajouter comme un dôme supplémentaire dans la nouvelle skyline de la ville englouti.

What type of objects do you expect the egg to enclose?

The Venetians will be able to come and deposit objects of their choice, they represent the fragments of a city put in image by all the chosen objects which best represent the soul of the city and its inhabitants who are entrusted to the future of the world. Their multitude, accompanied by testimonies, will represent a sensitive cartography of the city characterized by its own inhabitants, unlike the postcard image that we are used to seeing for Venice.
These objects may be works of art or everyday objects.

What determined the final drawings through which you present the speculation?

My project is dystopic to raise awareness. I thought it was important that the images be as realistic as possible so that the viewer could believe them. I wanted us to be able to project ourselves into a hypothetical end of Venice. As if this project was a prediction in a crystal ball.

How important are the 'timeline' images?

These three structures are designed on different time scales. It is a project that has several lives. Its degradation and then its disappearance are foreseen and controlled. Each element has a different use at each period of its life. For example, the museum will serve as an anchor for the egg when the city is flooded.
It seemed important to me to express in pictures all the stages of the project’s life to show that all these stages have been planned in the construction of the project.

What is for you the architects most important tool?

In my opinion, hand drawing remains an obligation in the architect’s work. Software does not replace the sensitivity of a drawing by hand. Research sketches should remain a step in the project work.
Secondly, I think that the expression of an idea through the image (3d images or collages) is a good way to make oneself understood and to transmit it to others.

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