Between respect for tradition and the possible future: The projects of the Waterproof contest for Venice
Waterproof is an innovative architecture contest format based on the goal of connecting designers and companies. Sponsored by Confindustria Venezia e Rovigo with the support of the Lagoon Delta Chamber of Commerce, the Iuav University of Venice and ANCE, the contest took place in 2017 and involved six partner companies from the Venetian area. These companies offered their know-how and materials, allowing participants to propose concrete and buildable design solutions.
The building on which this first edition focused was made available by the Iuav, which asked for innovative solutions to requalify its Ca’ Tron quarters, in the historical centre of Venice. Even if the actual construction of the winning design was not guaranteed, the target was to collect truly buildable ideas, which took into consideration all aspects from building construction to smart building site strategies and the research of construction details by using materials from the partner companies, plus the construction of a prototype allowing to actually assess the innovative use of the products.
More than 900 designers from all over the world expressed their interest in the contest, with 40 actual participants signing up in the end. The winners were decided by an international panel of judges.
The first prize was awarded to the FAS(t) studio, with legal headquarters in Moscow and directed by Alexander Ryabskiy and Ksenia Kharitonova. The second prize went to the Venetian Barman studio, founded by Roberta Bartolone and Giulio Mangano. Finally, the third prize was assigned to a team of architects from Iran and Japan who met at the Milan Polytechnic: Arian Heidari Afshari, Mehrnaz Rajabi, Tsubasa Hoshi, Hirotaka Sugisaki.
One of the winning aspects in all the projects was the capacity to connect a general concept with construction details, while continually referring to innovative uses for the partner companies’ products: this ensured that the proposals were strongly concrete as required by the contest, but also highly sustainable in both economic and environmental terms.
This allows us to move beyond the unicuum towards the development of an architecture which can be produced, repeated and re-used in different contexts with shared characteristics.
In other words, the designers shared the desire to propose solutions which transcend the single building and imagine a possible future for a sustainable requalification of Venice.
Going beyond the specific peculiarities of the single proposals, each of the three winning projects offered general and repeatable intervention parameters, proving how initiating a renovation process is possible even in a high-value historical-artistic context such as the Venetian one. The ideas prposed by the projects transcend this single opportunity and trace a few guidelines for a possible Venice of the future, capable of welcoming contemporary architecture proposals which allow it to grow and stay alive as a city, while at the same time respecting its unique nature and architectural patrimony.