Our Venice Studio

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To walk through Venice is to experience a dense network of spaces, a complex urban structure and labyrinth of pathways developed over time. The richness of its historical heritage is inevitably connected to the risk of transforming into a large-scale museum.  This dilemma makes it a daunting challenge for any architect. In the beginning of the year, we spent two intense weeks leading a design studio as part of Venice Studio Melbourne @MPavilion. Four talented students joined our studio and was faced with the task of considering the complexities of the historic city and its architecture while critically evaluating the adjacency of historical fabrics and contemporary design.

Focusing on the abandoned Casa dei Bombardieri in the northern part of the Cannerigio district our brief was to transform and extent the existing building into an artist residency and gallery. The students worked with the historic structures to create additions and interventions, making the architecture relevant to the context and redefining the site by inserting new functions. 

“For me the essence of the project is understanding and coherence. I think our concept displays a deep understanding of not only the architectural scale of the context but also Venice itself. New layers added to the existing building Casa de Bombadieri were carefully examined and added with the Venetian spirit in mind,” says Lukasz Zabolski from Politecnico di Milano who joined our studio with Brent Bignell from University of Melbourne, Natalia Kalinina from Moscow Architecture School and Emily Benno from Central Saint Martins.

The existing house is transformed into an art gallery. One part of the gallery is opened towards the canal inviting the public in while at the same time creating a link between the canal and the park on the other side. Following the transparent gallery is a dark gallery with a visual contact to a workshop on the 1st floor. The entrance space is preserved with the artist residence placed on top. Throughout the project, connections between public and private functions have been designed in a natural flow. All of this accomplished in only two weeks by a team working together long distance, checking in every day. 

“It was surprising how much we connected as a team. From the beginning till the end, we had a sort of common language that really helped us to develop the project in such a short time. It has been a great experience,” says Lukasz Zabolski. 

Dorte Mandrup Studio was led by partner and Head of Projects Kasper Pilemand and senior architect Lars Johan Almgren.

About Venice Studio Melbourne @MPavilion
The Venice Studio is a global collaboration of architects and students working together on major design challenges within the context of Venice, Italy. Dorte Mandrup studio was one out of nineteen architecture studios joining Venice Studio this year – including MVRDV, MAD Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects and Snøhetta. Lütjens Padmanabhan Studio won the Jury Award while Young & Ayata Studio was voted People's Choice. 

Drawings and renderings by Lukasz Zabolski, Brent Bignell, Natalia Kalinina and Emily Benno.