A Word on Venetian Architecture

Slow to Change

cino zucchi, social housing, venice, 1997-2002

Venice is famous for its architectural conservatism, to the extent that when a building fell over and needed to be rebuilt, it was nearly always replaced exactly as it was, dov'e era, com'e era (the classic example is St Mark's Campanile. Which of course is as essential as the canals to the city's charm today.

Although the city's decorative Byzantine-Veneto Gothic with its lancet arches is the most immediately recognizable as the 'Venetian' style, there was a change in the mid-15th century, after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (founded long ago by the emperor Constantine as the 'new Rome') and Venice began to regard itself as the new new Rome and embraced the Renaissance, starting with the gate to the Arsenale and reaching a peak of classicizing in the works of Sansovino and Palladio.

Venice produced one of Italy's greatest Baroque architects in Baldassare Longhena, the heir of Palladio and master of great scenic works perfectly designed for a city built on water. Hits and misses followed...one of the hits being Cino Zucchi's social housing on the Giudecca (1997-2002), one of the misses, according to many, is the controversial Ponte della Costituzione by starchitect Salvator Calatrava.

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