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a Hotel for experiencing ‘real venice’ arub saqib unit 3

The Lagoon Environment The Venetian lagoon lies between mainland Italy and the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. My site, the Island of Guidecca, is situated in the deepest part of the lagoon, facing the Adriatic sea. This is the lagoona viva, the ‘living lagoon’, subjected to the greatest tidal range on the whole of the Adriatic shoreline.

aqua alta Fondamenta Zattere / 730am / 29th Nov 2010 / tide at +94cm above sea level

rising sea levels The frequency of high tides in Venice has increased dramatically over the last 100 years. As a result, the percentage of land covered by water has increased. 90% of the city is completely submerged when tides reach above 140cm; which has become a growing occurrence over the last 30 years.

everyday life with the tide From grocery shopping to garbage collecting, the Venetians have to coordinate their everyday activities around the chaotic cycles of a constantly fluctuating tide. A dress code is advised on the municipality website.

Walls of canals lined with channels allowing adjacent pedestrian paths to flood

Maps from 1866 show filling in offshoots of grand canal to create pedestrian thoroughfares

dispersing the tide ‘Dry land’ in Venice is acheived through land reclamation (example above 1866) or designed interventions (opposite 2010).

Houses with 80cm metal barrier and pipes are attempts to keep ground floors facing canals dry






iii. tidal barriers Adhoc and designed methods of barricading the tide line the main Fondamentella of Giudecca facing the Giudecca canal. These barriers have been synthesised in the sketch above; exploring a relationship between the water and the barriers.

Salt crystals crystalise and expand, causing brickwork to deteriorate

Laborious task of manually replacing affected brick mortar

affects of tidal water The water in the Lagoona Viva is brought in from the Adriatic sea, and is therefore seawater. An increase frequency of tides has lead to the sea water in the lagoon being of the same salinity level as the Adriatic. The salt in this water is the main factor of decay in most Venetian buildings.

materiality at tidal barriers - metals Copper rusts when exposed to oxygen and sulphur salts in sea water, staining the Istrian marble walkways.

materiality at tidal barriers - plant growth Algae and weeds grow around stairs, rendering them slippery and difficult to walk on. These stairs are only exposed at extremely low tides; hence rarely in use.

materiality at tidal barriers - stone Istrian stone and marble is composed mainly of calcite. Sea salts and pollutants containing sulphuric acid turn calcite into calcium sulphate (chalk) which is soluble in the lagoon water. As a result, the ‘stones of Venice are dissolving into the air and melting away in the water.’

I. Vaperato water bus

II. Industrial ship

III. Cruise ship

IV. Private boat

V. water taxis




v. water vehicles on site Above are some of the vehicles I came across whilst onsite in Giudecca. The larger vehicles, which would cause a lot of water surface aggitation, were spotted further away from the site. However, vehicles I, IV and V pass by the site often, as there is a Vaperato stop and petrol pump north of the site, and taxi stops to the west.


Western elevation of site facing tributary canal; hourly tide level for December 23rd 2009 has been marked, showing great fluctuation with the highest tide being +143cm at 0500, and the lowest being +12cm at 1900

i. low tide -25cm

Hourly tide level for December 23rd 1984 has been marked. The tidal level was a lot lower for this year; the lowest being -53cm and the highest only reaching +62cm.

tidal levels on site The frequency and level of high tide has risen on my site over the last 20 years. This could be attributed to all the factors explored previously; from rising sea levels to increased water traffic.

I. High tide +82cm above sea level

I. High tide -25cm below sea level

tidal levels on site The empty derelict site has a simple barrier of rubble fortifying it against the tide; whereas the pavement on the side of the Hilton has been reinforced and rendered accessible for pedestrians. The boundary between dry land and canal is unclear along the boundary of my site.

initial concepts: designed attrition The cranes towering over delapidating ruins in Venice, as well as considering the affects of the tide on materials, led me to design a concept model exploring designed attrition, where spaces would be built to interact with water and erode.

initial concepts: materiality Exploring routes water can take inside the building and its affect on different materials as it carves a path through the building.

ballroom and viewing balconies This model explores the spatial layout of the ballroom and viewing galleries that will allow views into the Fortuny factory’s fabric making process. The route of water into and out of the space has been considered. These spaces are directly accessible through a second entrance for non-resident guests. This will avoid congestion in the main reception area and give better control and supervision.

back of house The concept model for the back of house services depicts a stategy that weaves the movement of the services through the building’s structure. In this way, when items move through the liftshafts, the vibrations and movement will cause the surrounding materiality to gradually wear away. The more the building is used, the further it will deteriorate.

scarpa’s detailing - querini stampalia museum Scarpa’s methods of excessive detailing to respond to water was a catalyst for my own design ideas. His acknowledgement of the constant presence of water in the context he designed in, as well as his resultant control over its movement, was an inspiration.

initial ground floor plan Considering spaces in the building where water would collect at low tide. Scarpa’s methods of excessive detailing at the Querini Stampalia museum was a catalyst for my own design ideas.

initial ground floor plan Considering spaces in the building where water would collect at high tide. The microfluid chips that are used to direct ink in printer heads were also a key inspiration in making me consider the way I could channel water as a fluid through elements in my building.



permanent layout - basement & ground floor levels The spaces allocated to their functions as well as the circulation between staff, resident and non-resident guests will remain permanent. This is to allow the hotel to operate efficiently throughout the course of the 5 year UN programme.

bedrooms store rooms lower roof terrace circulation water reservoirs


water reservoirs flood escape terrace lower roof terrace circulation


permanent layout - 1st floor & roof levels




ii. floors

i. pile foundations



structural framework The final structural framework is highlighted above; consisting of concrete floors, roof and concrete pile foundations.

conference room : initial ideas This is the first model at 1:100 of the conference room exploring the relationship between the rising walls and floor and its impact on the space around it. Here, an emergency staircase reveals itself as the tide rises. The floor rises with the tide to allow for the conference to continue dispite the room filling with water. A basin for containing the rising floor was not yet considered.

developed conference room model 1:100 This model now includes the basins for the rising floor and walls as can be seen in short section. The relationship between the anticipated space one the walls rise is now clear as there are scattered fragments indicating the route that will form once the floor and wall rises.

Factors affecting rate of attrition

i. plaster

i. rammed earth

SHORT SECTION FALLING ROOM : BUILDING IN 2011 1. Permanent wall 2. Runners for falling floors 3. Timber wall plate ‘rest’ 4. Tilted floors draining into wall gutter 5. Gutters in cavity wall 6. Sacrificial rammed earth wall 7. Trap door trapping water and sediment to be released at low tide 8. Ramp leading upto rammed earth wall

final design for falling room Once the system was decided, it was paramount to determine the materiality of the sacrificial layer to determine the nature of the ‘fall’. Thinking of Venetian renders, I initially assumed the layer to be made of plaster (6). A consultation with conservator Richard Hughes confirmed rammed earth to be a better option as the fall could be more controlled given the material is less brittle.

rammed earth construction To determine the mix of rammed earth is very important to gauge the proportion of clay, sand and cement to be used. The process I used to make the sacrificial wall at 1:5 is depicted above.

i. Sandy loam mix

ii. cement loam mix

iii. clay loam mix

i. clay loom was the stronger mix

results A mixture of 30% clay and 70% sand was the strongest mixture; allowing the wall to retain shape. However, a further test would need to be done, exposing each wall to weight and water in order to determine the rate of erosion.

day 1

day 5

day 7



mahogany i.


i. ii. salt crystal formation in wooden joints I tested the expansion and material reaction of three different samples of timber; english elm, brazilian mahogany and tanalized oak, in non-saline (i.) and non-saline (ii.) water. The aim of this test was understand the amount of expansion, as well as the affect of salt crystalisation on the material, the change in their visual appearance and if they would stain the concrete blocks they are connected to.













2011 (year 1)

2015 (year 5)

testing materiality The above render of a part of the long section of the building shows the materials aging and responding to the tide over the course of 5 years; their behaviour predicted by the tests and experiments I have taken on and explored in detail in my technical study.

BSc Final Year Portfolio  

A Hotel for Experiencing Real Venice, designed to host the UN's policy review of their environmental strategy.

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