Venice: Visions of a Beloved City’s Architecture

Dream of Venice Architecture, a collection of images of the best buildings in Italy's city of canals.
Dream of Venice Architecture, a collection of images of the best buildings in Italy’s city of canals.

A lush and rich collection of art photos of the city’s buildings and streets

By Richard J. Goy

“We all, millions of us, each have our own personal Venice, a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, smells, memories, reflections—some images fleeting or perhaps just fragmented shards of images…an infinite mosaic as rich and complex as those in the basilica. Every one is different.”  This new book is a lush and surreal look at one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice, that captures everyone’s imagination in a different way.  Dream of Venice Architecture will transport you to Venice with its incredible selection of images. 

Bella Figura Publications is pleased to announce the publication of this, their second book in their series on contemporary Venice. Dream of Venice Architecture is an intimate journey through the remarkable Venetian urban landscape. A cadre of notable international architects and architectural writers explore the elements that make Venice unique in the world.

The picture book reveals the incredulity of her beauty, from the mysterious sotoporteghi to the complexity of Carlo Scarpa’s “immaculate detailing.” The book includes architects who have built in Venice (Tadao Ando, Annabelle Selldorf, Mario Botta, Michele De Lucchi, and Valeriano Pastor) as well as Scarpa experts (Robert Mc Carter, Richard Murphy, Anne-Catrin Schultz, and Guido Pietropoli). Photos by Riccardo de Cal, commentary by architecture experts as noted.

Davidson Dream of Venice Architecture
Davidson Dream of Venice Architecture

Cynthia Davidson

Goy1 Dream of Venice Architecture
Goy1 Dream of Venice Architecture

Venice may be too hot, too cold, too humid, too crowded or too easy to get lost in, but “her streets, through which the fish swim, while the black gondola glides spectrally over the green water”—as Hans Christian Andersen eloquently stated—release us to imagine alternatives to the general standard of urban living. Venice is not on the sea but of the sea, eclipsing the tale of Atlantis with a modern mythology both repeated and rewritten with every tide.

Massimiliano Fuksas

It is rare that landscape is used as the substantial element of a city, its GEOGRAPHY.  But Venice is the exception. Venice: the ageless city. How can we take measure of her to a finite time, she who is crystallized by the juxtaposition of styles, of forms, of places, of space…

Fuksas Dream of Venice Architecture

Levy Dream of Venice Architecture

Max Levy

For all its floating qualities, Venice is heavily laden with history, stone, and gravity.  Though its marble monuments aspire artfully upwards, they are ultimately more preoccupied with down than up.  One counterpoint to all this weight is the prominent windvane poised lightly atop the Punta Della Dogana.  This figure of Fortune, presiding over the Bacino’s daily ballet of watercraft, pirouettes between architecture and flight. It has for centuries signaled the comings and goings of Adriatic weather that tints this city’s beguiling atmosphere. For some, perhaps, it pivots to the ebb and flow of dreams as well.

Baleri Dream of Venice ArchitectureEnrico Baleri

Venice: the ageless city. How can we take measure of her to a finite time, she who is crystallized by the juxtaposition of styles, of forms, of places, of spaces

Boym Dream of Venice Architecture

Constantin Boym

Doors of Venice are impossible to miss. Walk on any alley off the beaten track and every few steps you’ll encounter these monumental aged entrances on both sides of the street. Typologically, they are all similar: a massive wooden double door set inside a stone or marble frame. Of course, like everything in an old city, each portal has its own unique face and expression.

Selldorf Dream of Venice Architecture

Annabelle Selldorf

For so many people, cities are captured by the visual memory of an iconic panorama but for me Venice is a wholly visceral experience where what we see is so much less than what we perceive or feel. In Venice, there is all at once the sound and smell of the water, the chiaroscuro of confined passageways that give way to expansive campi, the constant rise and fall of crossing so many bridges and the twisting irregularities of its labyrinthine streets. A place of great intensity; I know no other city where one must navigate by way of intrinsic memory rather than conscious understanding. 

Welton Dream of Venice Architecture

J. Michael Welton

I’m an eighth-generation Virginian, a fact that carries some weight in certain parts of the Commonwealth, but precious little elsewhere. It mattered even less in Venice in late September 2012. There, Virginia seemed a quaint and claustrophobic universe. Venice, on the other hand, was a dream state, totally untethered from the 21st century – which made it a fine and lovely place to get lost.

Braverman Dream of Venice Architecture

Louise Braverman

When I hear the voice of Venice, my mind wanders into that nebulous space where time momentarily stops and I am quietly propelled into an intimate dialogue with my own free floating thoughts. The voice of Venice thankfully reminds me that there is an arena in which fantasy and reality can collide, coexist, and comfortably accommodate contradictions. Venice, for me, is a metaphor for unexpected creative possibilities. This notion never fails to captivate me.

Noelle Dream of Venice Architecture

Louise Noelle

The atmosphere and voices restore true religiosity—beyond the simple curiosity of the tourist—recuperating memories that take us back into forgotten rituals. We become a part of the millennial building with its powerful dimensions, its sublime opulence, its luminous mystery, its celestial harmonies, and its rich spirituality.

Bosch Dream of Venice Architecture

Randy Bosch

An architect’s informed mind expects inspiration at every turn in Venice, until an enigmatic sotoportego looms ahead. Passages connect interests and places to allow communal celebration of life in buildings and cities. Sotoporteghi are usually narrow, twisting, dark and mysterious tunnels bored through ancient existing buildings. They conspire with crooked bridges and offset streets to link islands never intended to join. Afterthoughts that stitch together the Venice quilt, their use seeming an unavoidable penalty paid to enter wonders reached only through them.

Ando Dream of Venice Architecture

Tadao Ando

Though the Japanese culture has developed the habit of repeating “scrap and build” philosophies based upon economic rationality, I believe that architecture should be essentially rooted in society and be immersed in a lapse of time. This is exactly what I learned in Venice. Genuine affection for architecture and the city is spontaneously shared among the Venetian people. The projects in Venice brought me chances to contemplate what architecture should be, which became a precious experience for me.

For so many people, cities are captured by the visual memory of an iconic panorama but for me Venice is a wholly visceral experience where what we see is so much less than what we perceive or feel. In Venice, there is all at once the sound and smell of the water, the chiaroscuro of confined passageways that give way to expansive campi, the constant rise and fall of crossing so many bridges and the twisting irregularities of its labyrinthine streets. A place of great intensity; I know no other city where one must navigate by way of intrinsic memory rather than conscious understanding.

Riccardo de Cal
Photographer Riccardo de Cal

Riccardo De Cal was born and lives in Asolo, Italy. After receiving his degree in Architecture at IUAV in Venice he has developed a career as an award winning documentary filmmaker and photographer. His research is focused on the themes of suspension of time and abstraction of spaces. 

All photos © Riccardo De Cal 2016

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