Gino Valle’s housing project at the Giudecca island has been a unique opportunity to test the relationship between the new city and the historical context. During its construction in the 80’s, this neighbourhood has been highly debated since it was occupying one of the last empty and wide plots remaining in Venice. Many criticisms were also raised, both among the academics and within the local community; thus, we developed our proposal by tackling one of these main criticisms.
Gino Valle has strictly chosen to develop all the apartments vertically as a stacking of different floors around a little courtyard, which provides the required intimacy to each family. Furthermore, the vertical organization offers a view towards the lagoon from the upper floors and allows an independent access to each unit from the outside, which was a typical feature of the historical houses in Venice. These are all fundamental qualities for the every day life in the project.
On the other hand, following the firm restrictions on surfaces given by the Legge 25/1980, which back then regulated the planning of social housing, the organization on two or three levels dedicates a significant part of the surface to the vertical circulation in each apartment. This is particularly evident within the triplex where, for instance, the Unfolding Pavilion takes place, causing several complains from the community living there. In fact, an apartment with two double and one single bedroom hosts up to five people who can only enjoy 14 m2 of space as both a dining and a living room.
The new windowsill outside the living room’s window tries to enhance the perception of the small living space and to strengthen the connection between the apartment and its wider context. Hence, it brings about two new relationships between the inhabitants and the environment:
- An horizontal relationship is established between the upper floor and the tree crowns in the park. As well as in most of the neighbouring apartments, the windowsill hosts some flowers that create continuity between the living room and the outer nature.
- The windowsill is provided with a hole that follows the geometry of the central frame and creates a void space within the window. This establishes a new diagonal relationship towards the park’s surface that was not present before.
Moreover, since the whole housing complex is clearly oriented towards the lagoon on the south, this simple installation balances the relationships of the apartment towards the north.