Masieri Foundation Hostel, Venice
The adopted programme
is a free interpretation of a design originally given to Frank Lloyd
Wright, providing single bed-study rooms, day spaces at every level,
a breakfast bar area and other ancillary functions. It is organised
on four levels, in keeping with the height of the existing building.
The main reason for undertaking this project
was the celebrated and unique historical city itself. Establishing the
relationship of a new building to a rich physical and cultural context
was a major challenge.
The presence of the Grand Canal was a dominant
factor in the design. The exaggerated frontal loggia and ceremonial
access stair running parallel to the canal were developed in order to
give a grandiose scale to an otherwise small building. At the same time,
this formal configuration attempts to establish a visual relationship
with the adjoining building.
The proposed building is conceived in reinforced
concrete and faced externally in reconstructed stone slabs similar in
colour to the Istrian stone used extensively in Venice.
As Kenneth Frampton writes: 'Venice has, in
fact. been the prime source of inspiration for most of Koulermos' recent
(hypothetical) projects: above all, of course, for his Masieri Foundation
Hostel, predicated on the configuration and attributes of an irregular
and unique site, even more contextual Venetian than the Recreation Center.
Based on a free interpretation of the program adopted by Frank Lloyd
Wright in his unrealized proposal for the same site in 1954, Koulermos
was to take a rather unusual approach to the design of the palazzo:
"The proposal reverses the Venetian residential typology - the pedestrian
entrance is located at the front and along the canal rather than the
rear. and the access from the canal does not relate directly to the
building but to the alley. This resolution was considered more appropriate
than the existing plan types, given the fact that the pallazi on the
canals are no longer used as initially intended." This deceptively simple
design makes a very ingenious use of an awkard triangular site, and
in many ways this is one of the most brilliant of Koulermos' entire career...'
John Charles Marvick
Ground floor plan