with Biayna Bogosian, Sofia Krimizi & Kyriakos Kyriakou
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Venice Cityvision Competition 2011
Venice is a paradox. The city was created on the most hostile environment initially to protect itself by its enemies but gradually turned its autism to complete openness and elegance. Venice’s paradoxical nature allowed it to emerge and flourish being always though at a state of a protection.
Venice is decaying. The equilibrium of balance in the Laguna region is extremely sensitive. People’s ambition to manipulate nature is transforming what used to be a defensive operation to an attacking alert. The slow rise of the water level, mainly caused by the numerous human interventions on the Laguna region is flooding the city. If the rise of water level continues, Venice will be completely sunk in the next few centuries. What should be a preservation strategy for Venice? Can we afford loosing this unique place?
Venice is floating on mud. The average depth of the Laguna does not extend 1.5 meters. Underneath it, a thick layer of mud is responsible for holding the buildings together. However the slight increase of the water’s volume is constantly threatening Venice of complete extinction. The element that keeps this city alive is also the one that will kill it.
Traditionally every Venetian structure is constructed on closely spaced wood piles that are deeply penetrating the mud layer until they reach harder substrates. Under the absence of oxygen in the muddy layer, the wooden piles get petrified keeping their structural properties for hundreds of years. The mud functions as an ideal preservative for Venice’s foundation.
Our proposal for Venice is an euthanasia. Etymologically, euthanasia signifies “good death”. All the precious parts of the city will be buried in the mud in a long time process of dislocation and preservation. Selected areas of the Laguna will be drained to create isolated environments of mud where the water flow and humidity are controlled. The removal of the water layer will expose the ooze stratum that lays underneath it and offer an ideal burial type preservation for Venetian antiquities. Chunks of the city, individual buildings, urban equipment, bridges, sculptures, columns, Murano glass, gondolas and other Venitian richness will be stored in the oozy environment completely protected from the future flood. In order to save Venice we have to hide it. The city will remain decomposed to its fabulous components. It will be stored in secret chambers as an artificial ruin ready to be opened upon historical demand.
Meanwhile, the artificial islands will perform as new attraction points for tourists who can now Visit Venice to get a live preview of its preservation process. They can watch and learn while enjoying mud therapy and mud fights. While Venice is being transformed to a new Pompeii, a new stream of truism will attack the region. The historical Venice will have to face its counterweight: The new Venice which is the old Venice dislocated.
Venice is an exploded city. Its core is decaying and sinking under its hypertrophic mass. The city is currently a supernova, performing far beyond its potential is at the edge of its being. Venice accommodates 20,000,000 tourists per year in a city for 60,000 inhabitants. This is literally doubling its population providing an insane amount of 54,000 tourists per day. The core is unable to support anything but Venetian picturesque identity. Everything else is pushed to the sea, floating on the Laguna.
The San Michele Cemetery brightly illustrates the phenomenon. Venice is unable to even bury its own deads, letting the corpses decay in the humidity of its muddy subsoil. The cemetery is a sacred island where Venice’s cadavers are sacredly discarded in a floating monument.
The archipelago is in process of densification. More and more monuments arrive from the original city to be buried and celebrated. The city undergoes a process of de – monumentalization that might allow it to perform more as an urban entity and less as a theme park.
Water is a lubricant. In Venice there is no intermediate space. The water is by definition the transitory space of Venice. The city exists because of the water and is dying because of it. The water has literally become the junckspace where every kind of excretion is released. An enormous amount of infrastructure is traced with invisible lines on the surface of the Laguna. This infrastructure is creating a floating urbanity on the water.
The island is a boat like structure designed not to float but to sink until it reaches the bottom of the ooze. A double skinned vessel will be submerged into the sea pumping the water trapped inside its perimeter and storing it in its thickness. By the completion of this it will offer a massive volume of pure mud to be utilized. Scale and hierarchy are no more relevant. Pieces of Venice will be stored as objects on shelves allowing their importance to submerge with them.
We translate the water paths and trajectories of the plethora of the boats that traverse the laguna to a map of emerging reverse island condition. The orbits of the vaporetti, the paths of the cruizships and the trajectories of the gondolas influence the shapes of the burial sites.
We can only preserve what will remain unseen, untouched by the air and unphotographed. Venice will exist in the future in an absolute and invisible condition.
Everything happens in the water. We stop upon this in between condition in order to question it, investigate and illustrate it.