GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2011
01304: Urban superimpositions\Historical Archive: Negotiating public roles in Piazzale Roma (STU 0130400)
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Tuesday Wednesday 2:00 - 6:00
Luis Rojo de Castro
First Site: We shall work in Piazzale Roma, a strategic site within the city of Venice.
The quality of Venice resides in the coexistence of the homogeneity of the historical whole with the monumental value of each piece. In Venice continuity prevails against fragmentation, unity over aggregation, the frame versus transparency. Except in Piazzale Roma.
Despite the public role and its symbolic potential, Piazzale Roma is a mere by-product of use: the arrival and departure of public buses that connect to terra ferma, the waiting of users and the ultimate limit for cars approaching Venice. It is a machinical tool predicated in the geometry of the turning radius of buses. For the Venetians, as for many tourists, it constitutes, along with the train station, the main entry to the city, the gateway to Venice, the transition point.
As a city, Venice is an anomaly. As a public space in Venice, Piazzale Roma is also an anomaly.
Second Program: We will address the needs derived from the key infrastructural role of Piazzale Roma by covering the bus station as it currently is. Simultaneously, we suggest taking advantage form its strategic condition, building a public facility of symbolic character: the public facilities of the Historical Archive of the City of Venice.
The covering of the outdoors bus station allows for the location of the public rooms of the Historical Archive of the City of Venice, superimposed on the site. The actual Archive of the City is already divided between Venice and Mestre, keeping most of its content away from the lagoon and from its historical location for conservation.
While traditional archives have been built around the notion of the original, its preservation and display, both public institutions and communities of scholars are searching for ways to take advantage of digital technologies in order to mobilize content to larger audiences and open up new forms of knowledge creation. These initiatives not only affect the content of the archive, but also its architecture, asking for new typologies and technologies to be designed.
The studio accepts the premise that these new types of archives can be divided in two differentiated elements with diverse functions and requirements: one destined to the physical preservation of materials, whose accessibility is no longer needed for a larger public, and another for its mobilization in different forms of public exhibitions or private consultation. We suggest leaving the storage -physical archives- in Mestre, moving back to Venice the consulting rooms and other public dependencies, including research areas, exhibition, and a conference hall.
Third Content: Building the Historical Archive of the City of Venice in Piazzale Roma mobilizes the relationship between the city and its history, between history and the experience of history.
Behind its frozen image, Venice is still superimposition of different layers of history and conflicting social processes.
Already at a literal level, the mere programmatic superposition of the Historical Archive and the bus station is a typical contemporary operation foreign to Venice techniques.
At a deeper level, the homogeneity of Venice's image veils a whole series of social and historical processes such as its rapidly sliding population and increasing museification. Our project addresses these different processes both in its site and program. A transition point, Piazzale Roma allows for a conflicting relationship between Venice and terra ferma to unfold while the program of the Archive makes visible and socially relevant the historical material underlying these processes. And its strategic location and public significance introduce a critical question over monuments, old and new.