< terug

Venice studio

Supervisor(s)  Martino Tattara 
Campus BXL 
Language EN 
Studio or individual?   Studio 


Description of the project 

Living and Working in the Venice lagoon

In its long history, Venice has been affected by several demographic declines. In 1300 the city lost about 3/5 of its inhabitants because of the Plague. In the following centuries, the city was again hit by violent pandemics with consequent loss of population. Each of these falls was followed by rapid demographic increases to the point that the city’s population, if observed from a long-term perspective, surprisingly appears relatively stable. Such stability was the result of explicit policies of the city’s government—the Serenissima—to favour immigration towards the city. It was clearly understood that the wealth of the city was directly linked to a stable and rising population. The current situation makes us rethink of these events. While the population is today just above 50.000—one of the lowest numbers ever—the city has lost about 18.000 inhabitants only in the last twenty years. Conversely, the city has established since the 19th century a longstanding relationship with the tourist industry whose predatory logic is today overkilling the city and its lagoon. Given the current population age and the impact of the tourist industry, it appears evident that the city is not able to compensate internally for this decline but that it urgently needs again to develop a series of policies to specifically attract new citizens. Within such goal, affordable housing and spaces of working are fundamental components. The studio aims at developing innovative typological research experimenting with a set of diversified types of housing in which specific and different kinds of actors have a role, such as students, researchers, young and migrants’ entrepreneurs and artists. With such a goal in mind, students will reassess the city’s rich array of types and typological studies tradition. This does not aim to the formal reinterpretation of a typological past but to test its capacity to adapt and support forms of coexistence between living and working, production and reproduction, young and old, and collective and private. 


Studio framework and method 

This year’s Venice Studio is the first of a 3-years research by design project focusing on the city of Venice. While for centuries, Venice has always been an architecture and urban design laboratory, during the last decades under the pressure of the tourism industry with a consequent cultural and economic decline, it seems to have lost such role. Despite the troublesome relationship of the city with contemporary architecture, the studio’s ambition is to re-imagine once again Venice as the place where it is possible to test new ideas about living and the relationship between architecture and the city.  For this year’s studio, the ambition is to find alternatives to the tourist industry and the lack of affordable accommodation by working within a framework based on the social role of university, cultural production, and knowledge in general. Methodologically, the studio will reassess the notion of typology as an operative design instrument capable of linking past and present. Concretely, during the studio, each student will be asked to start her or his work by transforming an existing type taken from the rich building tradition of the city and transform it taking into consideration specific future users and their ways of living and working. Each type will be transformed taking into consideration today’s social, environmental, and economic urgencies. 



The studio proposes to work on the Northern edge of Venice, by devising there a series of housing projects on a series of sites stretching between the ferrovia to the west to the Arsenale to the east, including islands such as Murano, the Certosa and the Vignole. Interventions on these sites can be understood as public facilities that provide affordable living and working spaces for artists, students, young entrepreneurs. Although developed independently, they will form a collective whole, redefining together one of the most unresolved edges of the city.  


Expected output: 

Each student will develop an architectural proposal for one of the selected sites. These projects, although independent, will form a unitary, collective proposal for the city. Each architectural project will be presented at the graduation through three main components:  

1 The thesis booklet
The thesis book contains the results of the preliminary work (winter semester) aiming at the exploration of a selected project theme and the presentation of the design proposal and its process. 

2 Panels and models
The design proposal will be presented through a limited number of carefully developed set of drawings, images (panels) and models at various scales.  

3 Presentation
The third component is the digital project presentation. During the year, there will be several occasions in which each student will present his/her own work in front of a jury, defend his/her own ideas and argue for his/her own position.  


Study trip: 

A 1-week long study trip to Venice will be organized just before the start of the second semester, in February 2024 (dates to be agreed upon together). The study trip is imagined as an intense workshop structured around site visits, lectures, presentations, and discussions. During the workshop in Venice, we will visit the different project sites and explore together the Norther Venice lagoon, including the Fondamente Nuove, Arsenale, and the islands of Cimitero, Murano, Vignole, and Certosa. To understand Venice, its architectural tradition and ideas and ideologies that have marked the city’s urban history,  we will also move outside the lagoon and visit together few Palladian Villas in the Veneto region (Villa Emo, Villa Foscari, Villa Pisani) and Tomba Brion by Carlo Scarpa. 



The studio is organized in three phases: the preliminary phase during the summer, the exploratory phase during the winter semester, and the project phase during the summer semester. The preliminary phase concerns the reading of the bibliographical material that will be distributed in the form of a reader to all studio participants at the start of the summer. During the winter semester (exploratory phase), each student will participate in the November workshop and, starting from there, define independently a research theme in relation to a specific subject she/he intends to address with her/his project. The November workshop will be structured around a series of presentations, lectures, collective discussions, and the development of few simple research assignments. The summer semester (project phase) is fully dedicated to the development of a design proposal.  

The studio will meet for a full week during the thesis workshop in November (dates tbc) and for few additional individual meetings. Just before the start of the second semester, a study trip to Venice will be organized. During the summer semester the studio will meet on a weekly basis until graduation.  


References/Further reading:  

A reader with a complete bibliography will be distributed at the start of the summer. Essential bibliographical references: 

Aureli, Pier Vittorio, Martino Tattara, and Dogma. Living and Working. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2022. 

Bell, Kirsty. The Artist’s House : from Workplace to Artwork. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2013. 

Gameren, Dick van (edited by). Studentenhuisvesting. Rotterdam: nai010, 2014.  

Holliss, Frances. Beyond Live/work: the Architecture of Home-Based Work. London  and New York: Routledge, 2015. 

Lechner, Andreas. Thinking Design: Blueprint for an Architecture of Typology. Zurich, Switzerland: Park Books, 2021. 

Tentori, Francesco. Imparare Da Venezia Il Ruolo Futuribile Di Alcuni Progetti Architettonici Veneziani Dei Primi Anni ’60. Roma: Officina, 1994. 

Trincanato, Egle Renata. Venezia Minore. Venezia: Filippi, 1972 



Please feel free to contact me at: martino.tattara@kuleuven.be. Since this semester I am on sabbatical leave, for the ones who are interested in speaking to me, I am organizing a Q&A session on Thursday 15 June 16.00-18.00 via Teams. 

Picture: 15 July 1989, Venice invaded in occasion of the Pink Floyd concert