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The only cinema of its kind! Venetian Lagoon cinema island project awarded in student competition

Dobrawa Bies
27 of November '20

{Student}, a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Wrocław University of Technology, decided to restore life to the abandoned structures of the Lazzaretto Vecchio - a unique establishment on the waters of the Venetian Lagoon, which for centuries served as a lazaretto and later barracks. The design of the ensemble of cultural facilities received the grand prize in the national competition Concrete Architecture.

The award-winning thesis entitled. "Lazzaretto Vecchio - Cinema Island on the Venetian Lagoon" was prepared under the direction of Dr. Mark Lamber of the Department of Public Utility Architecture, Fundamentals of Design and Environmental Design. Szymon Ciupinski created a concept for the entire complex of cinema-related facilities, inscribing them into the existing development of the island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, which is part of the Venetian Lagoon.

Wyspa kina
w Wenecji Lazzaretto Vecchio na tle
Laguny Weneckiej

Lazzaretto Vecchio is an island that is part of the Venetian Lagoon

© Szymon Ciupinski

history of venice island

Venetian Island is a place with a remarkable history, having served as a quarantine zone since the 15th century, when Europe began to face the plague. One of the world's first lazarettes treating patients with infectious diseases was also established there. In the centuries that followed, Lazzaretto Vecchio was used as a cargo warehouse, and later as a military guard barracks and weapons storage facilities. In the second half of the 20th century it housed the city's dog shelter, closed in 1995. Since then, the island has remained undeveloped and discussions are underway about possible directions for its revitalization.

cinema island

Szymon Ciupinski has proposed restoring the island's splendor by introducing buildings dedicated to cinematography to support the operation of the nearby Venice International Film Festival grounds. The buildings are intended to be an extension of the event's activities with the institution of the Venice Film School, the Museum of Cinematography and the Film Media Archive. An interesting feature is a cinema that opens onto the waters of the lagoon and invites outsiders to attend screenings.

szkoła filmowa na
wyspie Budynki nawiązują do dawnej
zabudowy

The author proposed the construction of the Venice Film School

© Szymon Ciupinski

In the words of the young architect:

Today, with the trend of displacing mass tourism from under the sign of monstrous cruise ships lapping the shores of the old city, Venice is gradually being transformed into a city of culture and artistry, increasingly associated with the Biennale of Art and Architecture, and the International Film Festival.

An important aspect of the project was to maintain the sincerity of the structure and material, standing out from the existing buildings. The author referred to the historical divisions, scale and form of the island's buildings. The island retains former warehouses for goods, a steward's building and the remains of a monastery with a central cloister, as well as the roofless walls of other buildings, now overgrown with vegetation. Introduced features include student housing on the site of the former quarantine chambers, a cinematography museum in the goods warehouses, a library on the site of a demolished church and a monument housing the ashes of plague victims built within the outline of a military powder magazine.

Elewacja północna
i zachodnia wyspy

The new facilities refer to the island's historic scale, subdivisions and buildings

© Szymon Ciupinski

Film school on the Venice Lagoon

The main school building would enclose the viridian of the former monastery and combine medieval buildings with modern construction techniques. Students there would use teaching rooms, smaller classrooms, computer labs for film processing and sound recording and processing, as well as lecture and design rooms. A dormitory with 16 rooms for 32 tenants and four suites for outside guests and visiting professors would also stand on the island. Entrances to them would lead from a common gallery. The complex would also include a library with study and meeting spaces and an arrangement of shelves located along the circulation routes.

the only cinema of its kind

The cinema building was designed by the architect as a kind of showcase of the entire establishment and its most representative space, connecting the lagoon with the island.

The key functional and formal cipher in this case is the cross-section of the building betraying the principals of the whole - the cinema hall elevated above the height of the walls, allowing viewers waiting for a film screening, concert, author's meeting or lecture to admire the landscape of Venice. This priceless panorama would replace the commercials displayed before most multiplex screenings that are so bothersome to many. When the event begins, the massive shutters made of trusses clad on both sides with a thin layer of reinforced concrete panels would be tightly closed, ensuring proper presentation conditions inside the auditorium, the author says.

Schemat sali kinowej

Instead of commercials, while waiting for the screening, viewers admire the panorama of Venice

© Szymon Ciupinski

The second benefit of a system that opens the rear wall of the cinema is to allow the film to be projected so that it can be seen both inside the building and from the side of the lagoon, providing an unforgettable aesthetic experience for all those who would be passing in the area at any given time. Such an effect could be achieved by a series of angled overlapping projectors tucked into the thickness of the wall. Such systems are used when displaying intricate visuals at stadium concerts by Roger Waters, U2, and Metallica, among others. The cinema would be connected by a glass passageway to the Film Media Archive building, allowing for the safe transport of vintage film copies and their restoration for special screenings.

Widok na Wenecje

in tribute to history

Szymon Ciupinski used colored reinforced concrete as the main construction material, which would match the colors of the island's existing architecture. Concrete, being the main material visible outside and inside the buildings, provides "honesty" to the construction, while standing out against the old brick buildings. The material is formed in such a way as to be a translation of the scale and form of the buildings present on the island.

The work attempts to tackle an extensive functional program applied to a historically sensitive site. Paying homage to the remnants of expressive spatial structures, a new organism was introduced that adapts to the framework set by the resultant of the forms historically present on the island, contemporary technological and construction possibilities and sensitivity to the age-old dogmas governing the art of design," the architect concludes.

You can read more about the Concrete Architecture 2020 competition here.

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