Where Form Makes The Historic Continuum
Emmanuelle Agustoni, Benoît Jacques & Matthieu Perin
The Laguna Veneta is an enclosed archipelago in the Adriatic Sea. An archipelago is a collection of natural and artificial islands set on a uniform surface that both unites and divides them. All the islands are connected and interdependent.
This particularly archipelago is defined by a boundary, which accentuates the separation between the Laguna Veneta and the outer world. The act of framing and redefinition forms a new universe, removes any sense of scale or reference and highlights the unity of the archipelago.
Situated in the lagoon, the University Island partakes of the archipelago. In order to affirm its status of spearheading study for the future generations, the project dialogues between the classical program of such a university and the infinite evolution of a contemporary study citadel. As a matryoshka doll, the project takes back the model of the enclosed archipelago in a smaller scale. The university becomes an enclosed yet permeable island surrounded by a frame that protects its own gnomes.
The Island of Poveglia has several objects. These are islands within the Island. The islands are defined artifacts, they are immutable, uncontested and fixed; they contain the classical program: the forum, the medical center, the chapel, the amphitheatre, the cantina, the library, the administration, the bath and the cloister.
The second part of the program is the remaining place contained between the islands. This is what we call the «fugitive field»
This residual and un-programmed spaces are contingent, intangible and fugitive; they contain the classrooms, the laboratories, the fab labs,
the reading rooms, the cafeteria, the exhibition areas, the sport equipment, the vegetable garden, the inner sea pool, every kinds of open areas, and of course wireless (and spaceless) technologies. This area offers the possibility to evolve according to the new trends and needs.
The fugitive field acts as an unorganized and unpredictable place protecting the immutable objects and preventing them from being easily grasped as a whole. The vast but controlled field’s disorder reveals a precise composition and relation between the objects of the archipelago.
The whole complex is contained within a hard perimeter. Neither inside nor outside, both opaque
and transparent, between artificial and wilderness; a round colonnade mediates between the profane exterior and the sacred interior. The circle form interrupts the infinite inner system.
The presence of this passerelle is delicate yet substantial, a fragile beauty between the two places. This habitat for the flâneur acts as a third place for the university.
Who influences you graphically?
Mies van der Rohe, Archigram, Superstudio, Archizoom, Gordon Matta-Clark, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Ettore Sottsass, O. M. Hungers Hans Kollhoff, Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi, John Hejduk, James Stirling, Carmelo Baglivo, Dogma, Point Supreme, Productora, Office KGDVS, Baukuh, Office MMX, NP2F, Sam Jacob, 51N4E, Fala Atelier, Point Supreme, Monadnock, Yellowoffice, 2A+P/A, Valter Scelsi, Neutelings Riedijk Architects and so on.
You talk about islands and archipelago, how can this geographical model be reflected to talk about how as architects we do not construct as individual persona but are part of a larger continuum both socially/culturally and historically?
This geographical model is interesting for us as spatial tool. The project is more about the architecture than the architect; therefore form makes the historic continuum.
How important is the plan as a method of drawings? What lead you to chose this over the section/elevation and axonometric?
We think the plan is a powerful medium because it aims to be both a diagram and a sensitive space.
More than all the others means of drawing, the plan has its own reality and it is not purely a referent and a representation of something else. It has its own existence, its own presence.
A mean of extreme precision at the same time of extreme abstraction. It is the fundamental tool to construct a building, being the basic tool for instructing craftsmen; but it can also be conceptual and abstract, becoming an allegoric drawing, autonomous and auto referential.
We are interested in working the plan through a kind of pragmatism and austerity that allows us to go straight to the essentiality of the project.
What dictated the graphic language for this specific project?
Most of the work is done with Autocad plans and its basics. Thick and thin lines, bigger or smaller dots, darker or lighter greys become the bare tools aiming to show the sensibility of the project.
How and to what extent has your cultural background dictated the way you approached the project?
The cultural context has been obviously quite important in our thinking and development of architecture, and also the history of architecture: But we try to take it with a lot of freedom and a more abstract interpretation.
We also lived abroad and it was an essential step to open our point of view. Then today with the new means like internet, the heterogeneity is really interesting because all the contexts and cultural backgrounds get sort of mixed together at a certain point.