Wandering in Venice

Wandering in Venice

Europe, Italy, Veneto, Venice
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Venice is an unbelievable city… to the point that I sometimes have to reach my hand out to touch a wall to make sure it’s really even there. The way it floats on the water like it’s simply tethered together by bridges, the architecture, and the way the light shines between the alleys, all come together to create a truly remarkable place. Wooden piles hold up the historic center, first ones being driven into the Venetian lagoon in the second century, and the city has been growing since then. There are now 117 islands in 6 sestieri (or districts) that are only accessible by boat, a romantic gondola ride, or by foot.

We escaped Genoa’s rainy weather and we were luckily unaffected except for an incredibly thick fog that loomed over the city for about two days. This enhanced Venice’s magical quality because we could only see about 50 feet ahead of us. When looking across the Grand Canal, it was like the other side didn’t exist. Alleys also seemed to have no end. The fog creeped in through the canals and into piazzas lending an eerie feeling to what was coincidently Halloween night.

Other than visiting a place that would shatter most of what you’d expect of a “city,” we visited to go to the architecture Biennale, curated this year by architect Rem Koolhaas. The topic was “Fundamentals,” so the main exhibit focused around the elements that when combined created ‘architecture.’ Think ceiling, wall, door, etc. The whole exhibit takes place on two sites in the Castello district: the Giardini and the Arsenale. The Giardini includes a series of pavillions designed by their respective countries, and the main pavillion, which houses the Fundamentals exhibit. The Arsenale, Venice’s old ship building grounds, held a large Italian exhibit showcasing films, architecture, and art installations. We had a chance to visit two days in a row but really there’s enough information to spread out over a weeks time. Koolhaas wanted the pavillion and exhibit designers to think about what in the last 100 years has affected the platform/landscape/arena in which we design today. This includes sociopolitical issues, in the case of South Korea and it’s recently demilitarized zones, to natural disasters, and the effect of architectural legacy, as in Brazil’s pavillion.

I consider Venice to be a place that everyone should visit in their lifetime. You can’t just imagine this place, you have to see it, feel it, enjoy the sunset, and get lost in it’s winding and never ending streets. I hope to visit Venice over and over…

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