Function: University campus
Site location: Poveglia, Venice, Italy
Institution: Young Architects Competitions, University Island competition
Brief description of the project:
Venice is a city with a proud past, reflected in the numerous cultural activities that still pervade it, but that, in recent years, it is seeing his identity changing. It is one of the greatest architectural monuments of humanity, and as such, it would suffer in being compared with an ambitious new building, that maybe instead of help in maintaining its position as unique city in the world, would ultimately make it only more common. It is indeed a jealous place, which is not revealed immediately but in fragmented glimpses, that lives in symbiosis with the environment, and finds its strength in unity and coexistence of all its parts. Its urban grid is dense, labyrinthine, which untieds only at key points such as squares, or the Canal Grande. Unlike the venetian city, the universities often manage spaces and functions in a schematic way; this allow a rigid separation between departments, libraries, residences and office, and allow them not to find a real relationship with the cities. In fact the students spend a lot of time in the universities, but most of them won’t live there, because if they live in there, they stay in residential areas, isolated from the rest.
So Poveglia, that is emarginated from the city for its natural configuration of island, needs to incorporate part of the functions that would normally exist in a city to became livable for the students that will have a residency in there, as the competition required. The project dialogues ideologically with Venice, and it is conformed like a real city, with its openings, its views, its chaotic appearance, and especially with all its vital functions. It merges its most typical features, such as classrooms, libraries and offices, with some features characteristic of the city, such as shops, bars, restaurants, supermarkets, banks, barber shops, gyms and cultural centers, in a complete urban system. The whole complex then does not present itself as an orderly place, where everything is sectored, but as a flexible place where the position, apparently disorganized, of all its functions it continuously keeps it alive, and encourages the exchange of ideas and of views, typical of an university. The different departments will no longer be self-referential, but they will be “forced” to communicate with each other, and so the students, sparking an education more complete, in an atmosphere of harmony. With this configuration the students will really live the university in all its aspects, all the areas, and for all the time. The project is also organized to respect the historical green enviroment of the island, actively including it among the necessary connections, and using it as a guide to trace the macro-routes. The use of buildings similar in size and in topological elements to those of Venice, highlights that also the Poveglia University isn’t revealed instantaneously but in fragmented glimpses, that lives in harmony with the context, and that finds its strength in unity and coexistence of all its parts, establishing then a sophisticated but powerful connection.
City and date of birth: Rome, Italy 11/11/1990
Author: Flavio Martella, Maria Vittoria Tesei