Who's Afraid of architecture?

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WEAVING AND UNWEAVING RESTORING PALAZZO MORA AS ART

AND KNOWLEDGE SPACE

Florencia Costa

Its January, the train leaves Mestre and heads towards Venice slicing through the fog while crossing the bridge over the Lagoon. A few strolls after descending the train, Santa Lucia’s railway station steps seem to melt into the water. Beyond the Canal I don’t see San Simeone but rather Aldo Rossi’s Cupola coffee maker blow up clearly in front of me. Walking left, passing Campo San Geremia, you would reach Le Guglie bridge over Rio Cannaregio. At the end of the embankment, if the affair would have gone right, you could have seen Le Corbusier’s last project, Venice Hospital. Across and inside, since the 1500’s, extends the Ghetto. I get attracted by the southern light hitting the Venetian red facades which march along the Fondamenta delle Guglie, the sunlight floods over a large bright mass of Renaissance work: Palazzo Nani. The Nani family was famous for its collection of classical antiques and paintings during the Renaissance when they built their Palazzo and magnificent interior garden. Beyond the Guglie bridge and to the right, you follow Strada Nova for a few more bridges till reaching the one from where the perspective collapses on Cà Pesaro and the building becomes a threshold for the view stretching over the Grand Canal. At this stage the street

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gets larger, and you are at Campo San Felice. Looking left, or North from the bridge, the view is open and can flow uninterrupted into the Adriatic Sea. It is standing on the bridge that you can appreciate Palazzo Mora’s most articulated edge over the Rio di Noale. Following acquisition of nobel status, Bartolomeo Mora bought the two faced palace in San Felice from fellow noble Andrea Contarini and carried on a massive renovation work in 1716. The resulting two pieces Palazzo is anchored around an internal court and enjoy a quiet garden entry. It follows the Venetian scheme of a double Piano Nobile structured in one big central room with three smaller rooms at both sides of it, a ground floor for commercial use and an attic for servants’ quarters. It is built according to medieval construction technique: Belluno hardwood used all throughout, from foundations to roofing, Istria stone for all stonework and exposed wooden beams for slabs and roofs. Remains of wood cutting set with clay mortar are used for both supporting and partition walls; stucco, tempera and lots of soft clay colours are used on facades an interiors. These superb Venetian structures, now owned by cultured entrepreneurs, are part of a larger project strategy that is going to spin them once again into a Venice Contemporary Arts and Education Centre, a showcase of renewed Venitian artistic spirit.



The Intervention The intervention explores the connections between Biennale subject FUNDAMENTALS and GAAF’s own inquiry on art SPACE TIME EXISTENCE. It intertwines both threads along the line of personal memory and proceedings, rather loosely, tying and untying of Venetian fragments, geographical, biological, literary and architectural, past but very so present. Such practice implies un-weaving the built form and urbanizing an interior space, for then weaving back in. Speaking in Venice terms: kneading past and present, reshaping the existing built form, carrying its original spirit of art exhibiting, knowledge cultivating and dwelling purpose, to a renewed harmony. The Venetian Palazzo scheme is therefore read as a Cartesian order replica of Venetian urban pieces: Piazza, Campi and Campielli. The intervention in Palazzo Mora alters some of its architectural fragments, thus composing a new spatial order where a diverse integration and transit fluidity arises. At the same time, new dense borders for dormitory living purposes are packed at the top floor in byzantine manner.

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Palazzo Mora’s original tripartite rooms’ scheme is extended throughout the building, while the top floor is urbanized with work-living cells for art residents anchored along a labyrinth scheme of narrow passages or Calli. The top floor units are formally a composition of Venice architectural fragments and carry the spirit shared in all monastic spaces along time. The echoes are those of the poet’s shack of Japanese etchings, the Florentine Emo Charteuse cells, Mondrian’s studio in Paris and Schwitters Hanover’s Merzbau. But above all the reminiscence is that of the use of the roof-top level for dense dormitory purposes for which Le Corbusier’s project for Venice Hospital is well known, a cutout of Venice large façade openings and a monastic cell in its own right. Our basic construction element is a thin wood stick locally called cantinella: a single structural piece of 700’s Venetian partition walls. Cantinelle from Palazzo Mora’s renovation work are here collected and reassembled. Like and organic connective tissue generated by parthenogenesis from a single element, cantinelle evolve into the cells prototype entity.






Architettura Florencia Costa

Development Raul Costa-Alessandro Scotti-Josè Vincent-Ricardo Grassi Production Luigi Ometto-Massimo Massiero-Alessandra Clerici-laria Tosato Marcello Collantin Mechanical Consultant Marco Pollice Lighting Consultant

The work concentrates on phenomenological aspects of architecture: an opus incertum since I started building in Senese territory and engaging in long term construction projects while living in the job sites and allowing no space or separation between practice and personal existence. This continues to be the case now in Venice, where after a sĂŠjour period of loose and broad considerations, Palazzo Mora design Project is set on as an embodiment of the un-building-rebuilding process from within.




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