Day 6_Brion Cemetery

Today we travelled for a day trip out of Venice by train and bus to the province of Treviso on an architectural hunt for the Brion Cemetery, famed for its work by Carlo Scarpa and also the place of his burial.

Having witnessed the Scarpa work in Venice we were all eager to experience more and were not disappointed. The work was intelligent and sometimes mystifying with doors and gates that blew the mind and kept us intrigued for hours. Despite its title as a cemetery, Scarpa has crafted a peaceful but complex and beautiful delight, worthy of its praise and a highlight of the trip so far.

By the time we were finally able to drag ourselves away, we narrowly missed the bus back to the train station and in true Italian form, the next bus would take over an hour to arrive, essentially putting our hopes of visiting Verona in the afternoon to bed. This allowed us some time to enjoy a traditional gelato from the only open shop in the area and a break away from the harsh heat and humidity.

We eventually found our way back to Venice and had an afternoon exploring in smaller groups before eventually coming together for a romantic dinner on the Northern tip of Venice, coined ‘Francisco point’, after its founder and the groups lead comedian, Gianni. As we watched the lightning flourish through the clouds in the distance we laughed through the night eating pizza and drinking wine discussing what tomorrow would bring and our highlights so far.



Day 5_Punta Della Dogana, Zaha Hadid Retrospective, Guggenheim.

Day 5 began with a visit to the Punta della Dogana, an art gallery in Venice’s former customs building the Dogana del Mar, built in 1677.

After remaining empty for many decades, Tadao Ando was engaged to design the restoration. The original structural volume creates a triangle, sitting at the point of the Dorsoduro island while the interiors are divided into long rectangles, with a series of parallel walls.

The existing structure was restored to its base construction, with most internal elements such as partitions removed. The exterior perimeter walls are still in the original red brick, and left in their raw state.
The new galleries follow the arrangement of the original rectangular bays. The original wood ceiling beams have been restored and retained. In addition, high semi-circular steel windows punctuate the exterior walls and offer framed views of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca island.

Within the centre of the floor plan Ando created a new space in his signature polished concrete. This central volume through which run all the routes within the structure, forms a cube. The old structure hasn’t been hidden in any way but instead there is a continual juxtaposition – between the old and the new.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Day 5 was the Zaha Hadid Exhibition hosted by the 16th century Palazzo Franchetti which overlooks the Grand Canal. A celebration of Zaha’s complete work from her early research projects through to recent built projects before her passing this year. Clearly evident in the works displayed was the significant progression in Zaha’s approach and thinking across 4 decades. Even through practice, Zaha maintained an desire to research and discover new methods and processes in Architecture.

Following the exhibit, we hopped across the canal to spend the afternoon at the Guggenheim, rounding out another splendid day in Venezia.


Day 4_Carlo Scarpa & Giardini

Somewhat saturated from two full days of Biennale, we decided to dedicate the morning to finding and exploring the Museum of Fondazione Querini Stampalia, before heading back to the Giardini in the afternoon.


The Museum of Fondazione Querini Stampalia is a 16th century building housing the restored residences of the Querini Stampalia family, and the Querini Stampalia Library. Renovated extensively by Carlo Scarpa (1959-63) and later Mario Botta (1994), the concrete, bronze, glass and timber detailing, particularly on the ground floor, proved incredible in it’s evident craftsmanship, composition and detail.

Following lunch we headed south-east towards the Giardini, splitting up for the afternoon in order to visit/revisit particular exhibitions to complete our Biennale experience.




Day 3_Arsenale

An even earlier departure from Cannaregio, we again hopped straight onto the nearby vaporetto. After accidentally looping Murano (and all outer islands) thrice (thanks Alex), we finally made it to the Arsenale for second day of exploring the Biennale.

The setting of the Arsenale represents an inspiring juxtaposition – contemporary architectural discourse and exhibition set in a rich historical maritime precinct.

With the Arsenale representing Aravena’s most curated component of the Biennale, the day proceeded to be much more dense than the previous in terms of setting and content. If opinions and positions were not established after walking the Giardini, they were formed here.

and then…
…Spritz o’clock.


Day 2_Giardini

An early departure from the accomodation and straight onto the nearby vaporetto. An hours ride along the main canals of Venice, we disembarked at Giardini and entered the Venice Biennale.

Over the course of the day we explored the main exhibition hall “Reporting from the Front” as well as many of the international pavilions scattered throughout the Giardini. Of particular interest, we attended the German Pavilion’s midday 3 hour talk/symposium “Imagining the Future” – a roundtable discussion concerning the history, role and importance of utopian speculations in guiding the development of the city.

With the Biennale closing at 6pm, we walked back along the length of the Riva dei Sette Martiri from Giardini to San Marco, through the backstreets all the way back to Cannaregio for dinner.


Day 1_Arriving In Venice

Following a rather exhausting (and sleepless) 32 hours transit from Sydney Airport through to Venice Marco Polo, we exited the terminal to be greeting by a 30ºC morning and blue skies – perfect weather to catch the Alilaguna (water bus) into Venice. A fine combination of northerly cross-breeze and consistent water taxi hoons ensured the 20 minute ride was refreshingly damp.

Disembarking in the northern Cannaregio district of Venice, we dropped our luggage off at our accomodation, and proceeded to spend the midday and afternoon exploring (read getting lost) in the beautiful and extremely quiet backstreets of Cannaregio and the Venetian Ghetto, meandering all the way across the city towards Piazza San Marco, and riding a long Varporetto all the way back.

Following an late afternoon rest, the evening was spent further wandering Cannaregio. Sometimes described as the “Venice that most tourists miss”, the residential quarter of Cannaregio has a real feeling of authenticity and localism. So far there have been no sighting of souvenir murano glass or venetian mask shops, rather we find small butchers, bakers and bars. Strangely enough (although thankfully) the district seems largely absent of the ‘San Marco American’.