The Venice Arsenale is a monumental complex of exceptional historic importance:
The city’s shipyard, having grown during the XII century, developed to become the largest factory in the world for centuries.
The buildings and spaces of production maintained their original function until the beginning of WWI, being subject to the constant functional and physical adaptations that followed the technical evolutions of shipbuilding systems and methods.
During the first half of the 20th century, the impossibility of adapting the spaces of the Arsenale to the needs of large-scale industry brought about a progressive abandon of the area resulting in a general deterioration of its structures.
The reconversion project of the “Tesa 105” building won the International project design competition launched in 2006 by the Arsenale di Venezia S.p.A. enterprise for the realization of new project interventions for the recovery, refunctionalization and valorisation of the northern section of the Venice Arsenale.
The “Tesa 105” constitutes the new northern access to the Arsenale and will host the entrance hall with its related services and offices for the research centers therein.
The project intervention is based upon criteria that foresee the joining of two different styles of architecture, one that is historic (container) and the other contemporary (content). Both structures preserve their formal autonomy and establish a dialogue among contrasting elements.
The outer walls of the original building, a 16th century industrial warehouse, will be entirely maintained, while the new volume remains completely contained within the interior of the building without emerging past its perimeter walls, as an explicit presence and part of the building.
The volumetric aspect of the project is inspired by the way that the ships were once built in the Arsenale, where the vessels’ volumes were elevated onto few support systems allowing for work beneath the ships’ hull.
Analogously, four small-scale volumes distributed strategically on the ground floor and open for public access (info-point, bookshop, conference room and café), are to support a larger scale volume where five office spaces for private enterprise and the offices of the Società Arsenale di Venezia spa will be located. On the top floor, two glass volumes will host the main meeting room for the offices below.
The volume of the new structure was moved to one side of the historic building as to allow for more natural light from the roof’s skylights and to allow for a clear reading of the original building’s layout.
There are few materials used in the construction (glass, steel, ceramic coatings) and the chromatic range of their surfaces has been reduced (white and gradations of grey), as to avoid creating visual conflict with the expressive surfaces of the original building’s exposed brick.