Three weeks of very intense activity will end today with mounting the final exhibition. The students bore down this week and from cursory glances at the final boards as they filed through in the print queue I'd say the final projects will be very strong. We're in Aula 2.2 Magazino 6 - top floor over-looking the Giudeca canal. There should be a sort of vernissage this evening but the exhibtiion opens tomorrow officially. All that remains for the larger Workshop 09 program is the reception at the director's house and a very big and rowdy party on the beach tonight.
The idea for the workshop "La Sfida del MOSE" came out of an on-going interest in infrastructure projects. I brought a very simple question (one I have been asking for some time) to the workshop: can architects contribute in any meaningful way to projects whose scales radically outstrip our normal, or traditional, range of operations? Several architects from IUAV have been working with the Consorzio Venezia Nuova on small pieces here and there - a control tower, tool sheds, whatever. Considering the scale of the project these are barely bread crumbs. Do we have the range to stretch out to the scale of this project without playing at being city planners? Are there skills and insights we can deploy across the breadth of such a complex project, or are we doomed to the 1% for art allocation?
Like the Deep Tunnel project under Chicago, MOSE will absorb billions of euros but remain virtually invisible. The success of both projects measured by what doesn't happen in a successful deployment. The eventual delivery of the project will in many ways squelch the endless debates over the operation. There were few public polemics concerning Deep Tunnel, but MOSE has been and remains extremely controversial. The project is not supported by the current Venice city administration. So the WS09 project charge is direct: render the MOSE project visible. The physical manifestation of the project (gates, jetties, locks, technologies and techniques), but also the debate, history, massive operational programs, and obviously the costs.
Based on our work here at IUAV and my project last semester at Midway Airport, I would suggest that there might very well be space for us to work at this immense pharaonic scale.
Time for thanks: first to the IUAV administration for the invitation to participate in the WS09. Second to Prof. Luigi Croce for securing that invitation and offering up his house, Luca Mezzalira my assistant from IUAV who was the most critical element in the entire endeavor, and finally to the students themselves - siete bravi ragazzi, sono contento avere l'oppotunita per lavorare con tutti voi. Vi Ringrazio.
Tomorrow back to Paris to rejoin a band of IIT colleagues, then to the Loire to see the kids for the first time in three weeks. Chicago next week...