Students Sketching at SS Mattia

Students Sketching at SS Mattia.jpg

Wednesday 24 March 2010

A day-long visit to the project site, Sacca San Mattia, and the island of Murano.

9:00 AM we meet at Murano and walk to the site, crossing the canal between Murano and Sacca San Mattia by the newly constructed bridge. The island is a "sacca" or "sack" which means that it was constructed by first surrounding the island area with a sea-wall, and then filling inside of the wall with rubble and waste from the city (not refuse), especially using waste glass from the glass production facilities on Murano. Currently on the island is an athletic facility that includes soccer fields, a running track, indoor pool and ice-skating arena. There are also a few other buildings consisting of housing and work-yard. The remainder of the island is nearly ready for development.
The land area of Sacca San Mattia, is approximately 36.42 hectares, or 364,166.7 square meters (about 88.28 acres).
Deducting the athletic facilities and the existing athletic facilities which must remain, this leaves about 22.20 hectares or 222,046.5 sq. meters of open land to design (about 53.8 acres). In Venice, this is a lot of open land.

Students observed the site, made notes, took photos, and of course, drew sketches.

11:30 AM we go to the Scuola Abate Zanetti on Murano. This is the school for teaching the craft of glass-making and design of glass objects. Here we were hosted by Comm. Guido Ferro, Presidente dell' Associazione Vetrai Muranesi (the association of Murano glass-makers). We saw a glass-making demonstration, toured an exhibit on the history of glass-making in Murano, watched an educational film on glass-making, and heard a short lecture by Comm. Ferro. Senore Ferro also treated us all to a glass of cold Muscat wine to celebrate our visit.

Senore Ferro was brought out of retirement to head the Association and its school. His family owns Ferro Glassworks, one of the largest glass works in Murano, and has been in the glass-making business since the 1200s. Despite his age, he is very forward thinking and is the first of the Venetian glass-makers to incorporate the use of machines into what had traditionally been a process done entirely by hand. He has a number of patents on such machines. Glass-making in Venice is in decline in the face of competition around the world. He is attempting to reinvigorate the industry by introducing new methods and new markets for it. He is also very interested in our project, and encouraged us to integrate Murano glass in new ways into the development of the island - especially in its use as a building material for canopy and pavement. He also was very clear to us that he believed that the design for S.S. Mattia should reflect the needs of all Venice, but with a Muranese accent.

Guido Ferro shows art glass objects made with the assistance of machines.


Sr. Ferro also helped us to get a very nice lunch (three courses) at student rates at a local restaurant by negotiating the meal at a restaurant owned by a good friend of his. He joined us with a starting glass of wine but did not stay for lunch. It was a very good lunch.

3:30 PM. San Michele, the cemetery island of Venice. Here we were met by Architetto Franco Gazzarri of the Municipalita of Venice. He is responsible, among other things, for the cemeteries of Venice. (One of the possible uses to be put on S.S. Mattia is a cemetery.) He took us on a tour of the cemetery, explained how it works, showed us a few famous graves, and concluded with a visit to the first phase of the Chipperfield addition to San Michele which was recently completed.

Studio at the Canottieri

Studio at the Canottieri.jpg

Tuesday 23 March 2010

The workshop begins. Everyone meets in the studio at the Associazione Canottieri Giudecca (Giudecca Rowing Association) facilities, that are located in the Giudecca Sestiere - a large island separated from the main part of Venice by the Giudecca Canal. The workshop is joined by Adjunct Professor Francesco Calzolaio (Dept. of Landscape Architecture), who is our faculty in residence in Venice where he is a practicing architect. Students get oriented to the workshop, attend to getting public transportation passes, organize the studio space and receive Assignment 1: A study of north lagoon island edge conditions and serial vision studies (after Gordon Cullen). This work is to be conducted while we make visits to several islands in the north part of the Venetian Lagoon as preparation for the main assignment, master planning the new island of Sacca San Mattia, next to Murano.

The evening brings a welcome dinner held on the Giudecca (the neighborhood for our studio) at the Osteria Ae Botti. The evening begins, in the newly installed garden behind the restaurant, with "spritz", the Venetian institution of refreshment at the end of the day (aperitif + sparkling water). The meal consists of classic Venetian fare, with fish from the Lagoon dominating the dishes.

Monday 22 March 2010

Graduate students in the University of Minnesota's Master of Landscape Architecture Program (MLA) in Venice Monday afternoon to begin the 7-week Venice Urban Design Workshop portion of the Port Cities Study Abroad Program. The landscape architecture students have just completed an intensive two-week study of the landscapes of The Netherlands, with Adjunct Professor Cynthia Lapp (Dept. of Landscape Architecture). They are met by Professors Arthur Chen (School of Architecture) and Robert Sykes (Dept. of Landscape Architecture). They join graduate students from the University of Minnesota's Master of Architecture Program (MArch) who have just completed a week of typological study of the Venetian campo (town square) that punctuates, and provide orientation, to the labyrinth that is Venice.

Arrival is at Santa Lucia railroad station next to the newly installed (2008) fourth bridge to span the Grand Canal, designed by Caletrava. Students are also met by Ida Massaria, our local contact who lined up apartments for the students and professors, along with representatives from the rental agency that contracts with the University for the apartments. For a city with streets filled with water, Ida has arranged for two water taxis to take students and their baggage to their apartments.

The apartments are scattered over the neighborhoods of the city of Venice so that students can experience the daily life of Venice and get to know a neighborhood as home - an intentional plan devised by Prof. Chen that has been in use since the beginning of the workshop program. Students spend the rest of the day getting settled in their apartments, buying groceries (all have kitchens with washing machines), and exploring their neighborhoods.

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