Venice is among the most beautiful destinations in the world. The floating city, surrounded by water and traditional architecture, has become a must-see tourist attraction. Like many ancient cities, its structures may require extensive renovations, as the majority of the original architecture was constructed around the 14th century. Venetian architecture has unprecedented importance to locals who retain an avid support for historic preservation.
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Yet, as the city becomes more popular and highly populated there is a push for modernization.
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi is an iconic building that overlooks the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. While first constructed in 1228 in the heart of Venice, the building was rebuilt twice with its most current construction dating back to 1506. For centuries, the building has been used as a headquarters for German merchants, a customs house under Napoleon, even a post office. Yet, its use has steadily declined over the years and in 2008 the clothing giant Benetton, with hopes of turning it into a retail palace, bought the 800-year old building. Some local historic activists believe that further invasive renovations disregard Italian heritage.
“The Italian fashion company renovations include: the removal of a section of the roof to create a glass panoramic terrace, the addition of new entrances, the destruction of parts of the balustrade and the creation of moving walkways throughout the interior.”
OMA’s design plans are intended to inspire innovation and change while also becoming, “a crucial element in the cultural fabric of the city.” In fact, they plan to resurrect aspects of the original structure that have been lost for centuries. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi has been rebuilt several times to serve differing public needs. The department store will also be used as a venue for public events, providing further public use of a recently unused building that will now provide commerce and growth to the city.
While the subject matter can be quite controversial, it will only become more prevalent as time goes on.
Where do you stand?
Do you find it to be an issue of modern versus traditional architecture? Or, is it an issue of retaining historic identity?
text and images courtesy of e-architect and © OMA