A retroactive manifesto for the city of Venice
VISIONS #Pamphlet #Urban development #Global cities
A vision is a forecast, a matter of planning or it is a fake.
Today reality is much more strong of any possible forecast, as we have understood looking at the recent events all over the world. Starting from the 9/11 till the new internet guided revolutions in the north african arab countries and the strong earthquake happened in Japan that leaded to the tremendous tsunami and the nuclear accident, all of us have seen events all over the world we hardly believe in if they were set up in hollywood movies.
Intending visions on the city as a way to forecast urban conditions the city itself can embody in its real development, we think it is a not relevant procedure: reality in itself will overcome every vision.
The contemporary city as an urban field accepts many and many interacting forces in continuous spontaneous flourishing and decomposing. The only way to work on it is to loose themselves in the sea of the acting forces; and from the inside try to insert local perturbations to the temporary equilibriums: only local reactions to the forces in action in a specific moment on the city can be provided.
No more global visions can be considered useful to plan in detail the transformations of the city. Global visions on the city could work only as main references: images can represent the city relating it to not-actual conditions forcing reactions in order to produce new ideas of its future, different or not from the directions of development the city seems following. No forecasts neither planning. Today vision can be intended only as fake or as an hallucinated dream.
Fakeness is today an highly diffused procedure to re-invent things, re-creating them better then before in new phantom images. And this is a trend on web, where a huge amount of pictures create false images representing famous celebrities with body changed in best, sometimes exaggerated, or representing them in situations never occurred, often situations far away their real life style. The aim is to change the actual condition and the destiny of the people represented. The idea is to double their lives in a parallel destiny never occurred but plausible. It is the “sliding doors” syndrome: a life is represented while another one of the possible lives might have occurred. Indeed, fakeness is to produce a parallel reality stronger than the existing one. And obviously on the web the huge amount of the fake images are oriented on intimate exposition: fake images represent celebrities with hypertrophied bodies or involving them in intimate relationships never occurred.
The fakeness involves the much more deep private dimensions: the fake is the tool that can imagine new realities opposite to the real one leveraging on the inner structural condition of life.
And that is Fake Venice: a place in which some conditions never realised before are forced to develop in the city. The bodies of the city become hypertrophied.
The Fake Venice represents a plausible development of the city: one future in the range of its potential developments. The Fake Venice decided to fall in love with certain realities and certain dynamics of the contemporary world that the existing city has always refused to meet and really never met.
The Central Business District along the Venice-Island Station and two of the scattered pavilions for the Administrative Services in Cannaregio
Fakeness is a sort of dream.
A dream that is a way in which our sub-conscious during the most intense and deep phase of sleeping guides our mind to elaborate new relations and connections between experiences occurred and not, between reality and fantasy.
Mixed informations define new stories and new realities: useful or not, reproducible or not, used or not as a direction for the real life.
They remain only a fake, an altered reality but for a while they could appear as a spot of an incoming far away future.
Fake Venice is a reflection on fakeness and the future of a city. It reflects on the “potential being”: it focuses on one of the potential Venice that have not been realised.
It is the B side of a ”sliding door” Venice existence.
And as the mask hides the face so the beauty of Venice hides its strong reality, its sharp edges. In the back of the beauty an unexpected counter-reality is hidden: a black soul addicted to the brand new realities picked up all over the world faces the white one absorbed in its cloud of beauty.
As if we were new contemporary Canaletto living in Venice we might reproduce images of the city: images of a 2011 Venice deep involved in the dynamics and in the urban conditions happening all around the world today.
The Burj al Arab Venice, a new luxury touristic destination in front of the San Pietro Island
Someone could find this Venice more attractive and someone else horrible but it doesn’t matter how you feel it or if you can accept it: the main goal of this Fake Venice is to force the city to be in contact with the contemporary urban forces that drive the world today and to produce public reactions on that trying to answer to certain key questions.
Is it better what Venice is now or what Venice could have been if it would have interacted in its recent past with the contemporary urban conditions not refusing them?
Is it better what Venice is now or what it could have become opening to the main dynamics of the global economy trying to be a node in the network of the global relations as it was during the XIII sec?
Is it better what Venice is now or what Venice could have become accepting to keep in touch with the global contemporary economic tendencies driving their impetus on the city in order to obtain from the global capital investments adequate counterparts for the organisation of the city itself?
Probably no answer is possible. The only thing is to restart moving making a quick jump into the reality, whatever it is. It will be possible to make mistakes but the city will be living again, in the real world.
Venice local food production new policy: Urban Agriculture in Campo San Polo
Venice, 6th of June 201
The choice of realising in the late ‘70s the H VEN LC, the Le Corbusier Venice Hospital, many years later the architect’s project, has been the starting point of the repositioning of the city in the global capital cities network. It has been the first step of the political renovation of the city towards its rise as a centre node for the relations with the eastern part of Europe and as the main bridge towards the near Arab countries.
By the retrofitting of the original hospital project to locate the Administration Departments Center, the city of Venice has been invested of a new phase of development.
The ADC VEN LC, the Le Corbusier Venice Administrative Department Center, gave a new impulse to the urban policies in order to invest the city with new potentials ready to accept incoming external forces. The physical connections inside the building started to evolve immaterially outside its physical edges and to flow all over the city. A new impetus from the architecture invaded the city: the field of operation became the entire urban context. Venice acquired a new frame of development: from the architecture to the landscape a new field for the global competition was prepared.
This germinal new approach on the city was followed by a new strategy to consolidate this attitude: a series of administrative departments scattered pavilions were born from the ADC VEN LC linking all the city. This passage brought to a new conceptual attitude on the city. The governmental power occupied the city discretely: its built presence was light and diffused but that doesn’t mean it became less strong in the capacity of managing the city, between accepting global development issues – forcing the citizens to accept them – or, at the same time, picking up their will, following the community demands and the general necessities emerging from the changing future Venice was starting to face.
At first, just near the new administrative center in Cannaregio, a Central Business District was developed in the Venice-Island Station area in contact with the flow of workers coming into the city from the airport or from the Lisbon-Kiev line – the trans-european Corridor V linking east-west all European Union Countries. The new Venice-Island Station is the head of the fully automated, driverless monorail urban system line from the main Venice Station in Mestre, node of the Turin-Venice-Trieste italian stretch of the entire Corridor V, and it was realised immersed in a cluster of skyscrapers. The implementation of the district paid the technological advanced public transportation line, able to link the island to the international railway node in 5 minutes. From then on the city of Venice has been linked to Turin in 3 hours, to Milan in only 2 and to Trieste in 30 minutes: the key italian economical east-west network lives on the line linking Venice to the industrial capital, the business one, and the financial insurance district. At the end the city was opened to a wide range of new business potential.
The soft conceptual approach on the city, realised by the presence of the discrete administrative scattered pavilions immaterially linked together but physically deeply immersed in the local context, witnessed the coming up of other political strategies: a new Representative Center was developed facing Piazza San Marco, the former political center. And that in order to project Venice in the global arena as the new capital of the eastern European Union.
A new loop skyscraper grew in front of the two columns of San Marco and San Todaro. It enlarged the square opening a new platform on the lagoon. Accommodating the main administration offices and the City Hall the skyscraper has proposed an intermediate world between the public manifestation of power hanging over the existing buildings and the attempt to involve the citizens opening the new structure to a completely public loop circulation, from the ground new platform till the upper levels in the canopy roof.
Following the smart new global scale ideas on the large buildings the city invested on the idea of the loop skyscraper, considered the last positive vision on the possible interaction between the building representing the power on the city and its public life.
And that just before the incoming necessity of deciding to accept or not the setting up of new hyperbuildings (seeming to reject any real positive relation to the city summing up in itself every programmatic complexity) or, at the opposite, of single monolithic volumes, all involved in its ascetic affirmation of being a radical alternative experiment in large scale building but still demonstrating any interest in the real city where it will be set down.
Reinforcing the heart of the city as its main representative part, on the other side of the Canal Grande the new Peggy Guggenheim Museum was recently realised. Notwithstanding it is the second episode of the Guggenheim trade mark new titanium-laminate fluid museum the Foundation spread all around the world, it became one of the most popular and visited museums after the all over famous first example in Bilbao. That for the beauty of the building but, really, above all for the terrific view on the city and cause of the presence of the Punta della Dogana Francois Pinault Foundation, directly connected with a floating pathway. Altogether, after the previous quarrels, nowadays they realise a network for contemporary art considered one of the best, represented all over the world by the image of the Venice Biennale, deeply influential in the cultural and political life of the city.
As soon as Venice has proposed itself as a new guiding city for the east of Europe a new trend of touristic request has started again. The city began offering new deluxe solutions, not only the classical historical palaces in the center: the new venue of the luxury Burj Al Arab Hotel in front of the San Pietro Island was realised to strengthen the long term traditional relation between the city and the Arab world. The Burj Al Arab Venice realised a new refined destination for the city offering the solution for living in the city as being at the sea-side.
Exactly here in Venice, where around the corner there is the rest of the city with its beautiful palaces and its hidden masked parties.
In order to reinforce the supply to capture new flows of global tourism exactly south the San Pietro Island a huge dense line of linked hybrid low budget hotels populated the Pineta di Sant’Elena along the edge of the island.
Isolated from the rest of the city, the extreme east part of Venice started to be devoted to an high dynamic young night life: like in the greek small islands all the houses in the Calle of the neighbourhoods are invaded all yearlong by young people coming from all around the world to spend their short-term vacations given over to organise the wildest parties, like the spring break ones.
Not far from the Burj Al Arab Venice in the middle of the lagoon an extremely especial touristic destination has been set down: the Turbine City Venice. It is a wide off-shore wind farm plant in which a series of middle dimension wind turbines are organised as a network accommodating hotels and spa for tourists. Together with the established policy of renewable energy production, the will of improving the tourism new district near the San Pietro and san Elena islands brought to the decision of experimenting this first example of the brand new leading project of the norwegian Turbine City.
At the end Venice has come to propose a wide range of touristic experiences enlarging the supply till now centered only on the luxury noble historical palaces solution, following in Casanova’s footsteps.
A very strange landscape appears today in the far east part of the city: the new touristic destinations meet strange modernistic slab-buildings floating in the lagoon. They are the 140 meters long and 56 meters high floating Le Corbusier Unité d’Habitation. Following the venetian visionary tradition in realising floating buildings, in the dockyards of Darsena Grande a new business has been developed: instead of building conventional ships an international advanced construction company has experimented a precast building system able to realise in 8 months a new subsidised housing machine able to accept 1.600 inhabitants and, above all, sail as a ship. Even if the Precast Subsidised Housing Ships are still now all anchored near Darsena Grande they are ready to sail and dock wherever they are needed: in the rest of the lagoon to solve the housing problems here in Venice or everywhere else to solve emergency situations, as to collect the flows of migrants arriving in italy as a bridge to the entire European Union.
As common in all the other european cities, urban policies for the docklands renovations brought to the realisation of new affordable houses in order to accommodate new inhabitants, above all young workers, young couples and families, and elders coming back in Venice after years of forced departure because of too high cost of living.
The demand of housing has been reduced and the prices after decades of growth started to stop and decreased opening the market to weak targets. New population arrived into the city and the old risk of the occupation of the city by stranger rich owners oriented to buy luxury palaces to live in only for few days in the year faded away. The city avoided the drift of being only a tourist city for rich people living there for very short periods of time.
The quality of life in the city has been enhanced by a brand new policy of local food production.
In order to fight against the high prices of the foodstuff a spontaneous network of citizens organised the Urban Agriculture Venice Campos, a new local network of vegetables and fruits production. In many of the Campos diffused all over the urban fabrics some plots of agriculture were set up during the years. They were cultivated by a network of farmers the city helped to organise to manage its necessities. Several years later what had been an initial experiment has become an established trend in the city: nowadays many local open air markets are diffused where it is possible to find some products cultivated in the city. Even if narrow, a part of the local demand of vegetables and fruits is supported by the city itself.
In the north side of the lagoon, between the San Michele Cemetery and the Murano Island, a line of high potential wind turbines produce all year long the energy enough to light up the street lights in the city. Despite of the visual impact in the north horizon of the city and after an inevitable series of controversies, the citizenship accepted its contemporary windmills and from then on no other oppositions came out when the city decided to follow the trend of experimenting new solutions to produce energy on its own. The administration started a long term path towards the self-reliance, considering food and energy in order to remain a leading capital in the global economy network.
Recently one of the strongest solar energy company set up the third example of its solar thermal power plant – using the solar power tower technology – strengthening the leading position of the city in the experimentation of the coexistence of technological advanced plants for energy production and an historical high value urban tissue. The city developed the plant in a new island realised in the north side of the lagoon in the area occupied by the off-shore wind farm. Till now in its starting phase the plant is supposed to produce enough energy to feed the Cannaregio district with its administrative offices (even in the local climate conditions really inappropriate till the recent complete technology renovation – receivers more efficient, new mirrored heliostats and enhanced thermal energy storage system).
Field: Theoretical reflection
Typology: International Competition
Promoter: City Vision
Team: Arch. Andrea De Matteis
Project for a retroactive manifesto for the city of Venice, a Vision of the city as a fake of an alternative present condition never realised.