Olukoyejo Olanrewaju Akinkugbe, Alexander Christian Foss Ball, Alix Marie Biehler, Ting Yi Chan, Sarah Ashley Devries, Gian Andrea Diana, Petro El Hage, Karim Fouad Hefny. Tsz Chun Lam, Kevin See-Yat Leung, Ioana Man, Thao Phuong Nguyen, Jocelyn Patricia Tang
“I wanted to do a specific kind of architecture and I saw that without further argument I would be unable to ever do that if I did not, with words, first create and describe the possibility of it, and then, more indirectly, create the need for it” [Rem Koolhaas on Delirious New York]
Intermediate 15 challenged students of 2nd and 3rd year to embrace a thesis-studio approach in which building a new critical understanding of pre-existing and uncontested urban environments – thus unveiling the potential to generate space for new projects and inform urban policies - is be seen as a form of design.
As site of investigation, in our first year, we chose Venice – a city that apparently defies the possibility of a redefinition or any fundamental discovery. Site of apparent stability and maximum disequilibrium, and ultimate catalyst of global phenomena, Venice is torn by almost irreconcilable contemporary contradictions: a ratio of daily tourists and local populations that calls for the rethinking of the notion of citizenship, a schizophrenic regime of absolute preservation and careless neglect, the erosive power of the ship industry in a highly delicate ecology of the lagoon, etc.
To avoid falling into any cliché and to direct the focus of the research onto unbeaten terrains, students were encouraged to look at the city through the lens of one man – widely remained unknowns as an act of delenda memoria for his association with fascism – who almost singlehandedly launched Venice into modernity between the two WW. Having promoted the industrial port of Marghera, founded the Film Festival and the Casino, presided the Biennale and the CIGA, the controversial capitalist visionary Giuseppe Volpi left as legacy the modern Venice we experience today.
Euphoric by the sudden appearance of Volpi’s censored archives, inspired by conversations and specialized seminars by local experts, surprised by unique visits to abandoned modernist projects and major infrastructure building sites, and overwhelmed by the effort of reconciling the rawness of the Venetian site visited with the preconceived image of historic city, during the trip to Venice, each student developed a personal obsession and took ownership of a specific research subject.