Next Project

IUAV archivio e biblioteca

Part 2 Project 2010
Sean Douglas
Mackintosh School of Architecture, UK
‘In the centre of Fedora, that grey stone metropolis, stands a metal building with a crystal globe in every room. Looking into each globe, you see a blue city, the model of a different Fedora. These are the forms the city could have taken if, for one reason or another, it had not become what we see today.’

Italo Calvino, Cities & Desires 4, Invisible Cities

Everyone has an idea of Venice that extends beyond the reality, whether romanticised, nostalgic, demonised, the city exists beyond the physical manifestation as we see it.
The IUAV has gathered a precious collection of schemes and dreams from architects and artists contributions to Venice, their idea of Venice, over the recent centuries. They include Le Corbusier’s H-Ven and Louis Kahn’s Palazzo dei Congressi’.

The project creates a home for these works, permanently on display yet archived in a way that expresses an idea about Venice captured in a few key themes;

Venice balances on piles above a lagoon. It regularly floods. The traditional safe keeping of treasures in vaults and cellars does not apply. The loft becomes the treasure chest of Venice. They reveal the craft of ship building in their timber frames, and emulate Venice with their stretching and groaning and fantastical appearance.

Solid space
An archive has an inherent quality of weight and silence. Solidity, or the appearance of mass are the embodiment of the might of the knowledge contained within. A mass can decay and crumble whilst retaining the memory of its form.

Associated with collegiate and monastic architecture the colonnade offers dignity, classicism and shelter from the elements.

The lantern evokes the campanile whilst offering a solitary moment overlooking the city for the hardy scholar.

The division of the archive into smaller cells and larger reference rooms mirrors the relationship of Venice’s grand Palazzos and tiny Calle.

Book stack
In amongst the stacks. It is dark and the floor creaks. As you move out towards the edge the solid walls of books melt to reveal light and the desk, dappled in refracted and reflected light, awaits.

Sean Douglas

The Venice Archive

Venice is one of the ultimate expressions of the act of civilisation, its formation a coalition of fragments into a labyrinthine unity; ossified and intact; a meniscus on the brink of a watery destruction.

The archives of Venice, papers dating from the 9th Century, are second only to those in the Vatican, the largest in the world.

Sean’s proposal for his archive, poised on the edge of the Canale della Guidecca in the sestiere of Dorsoduro, shaped out of the marsh grass and weeds of the abandoned Miralles’ new architecture school, nearby that church, San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, restored by Donald Sutherland in Roeg’s 1973 film, “Don’t Look Now”, engenders all the contradictions implied in saving these papers as the city sinks.

Permanence, prudence and security are expressed using a massive carved carapace giving shape below to its own island. This keep, this citadel, poised at the head of the canal addressing the Guidecca, draws a line between today’s Venice and the Venice of memory.

This sea-like creature arises directly from the lagoon, revealing and accommodating in its underbelly a loggia, which circumnavigates the island, stitching the neighbouring insulae by bridges, the whole the final keystone in a mosaic of islands.
This secret, this hardened crab-shell evolves into an expression of independent cellular clusters, roof forms echoing the Venice skyline, implying a series of attic rooms holding the precious artefacts, stored in a pragmatic and poetic manner, an expression of intimate safekeeping.

Overall there is a well observed use of historical precedent, producing a sensitive proposition, beautifully represented through a set of drawings which evoke a poignant atmosphere of robust decay.

Charlie Sutherland - Tutor

Fred Smith
Mr Charlie Sutherland
• Page Hits: 7079         • Entry Date: 21 July 2010         • Last Update: 12 September 2010