UNIVERSITY ISLAND: A BEAUTIFUL CONFLICT
Venice, Italy, 2016
The island of Poveglia is a place of beautiful conflict. It is both natural and man made. It manifests in a serene struggle between land and sea. A single entity in which nature and architecture are deeply intertwined. A place of isolation and now a space for interaction. A city of ruins and a village of collective living. These opposing elements form a great place for learning. A place that provides students with the engaging city density in a tightly knit campus. Old ruins and new structures all come together around a large piazza. Here the students mingle, collaborate and exchange, moving from building to building. The classroom spaces are spread across the campus cluster to encourage maximum interaction and friction between the idiosyncratic students. The buildings share that same characteristic with the students. These are such unique locations and architectural expressions that they assimilate nicknames. Students meet to brainstorm in 'The Hat', they search for books together in 'The Cloud', take classes in 'The Tower' and get inspired in 'The Village'. These structures either stand on their own, or attach to the existing structures, playing off of the features of the old buildings. Together, they create a lively roofscape and define a unique silhouette for the whole island.
As the day slows down so do the students, slowly working their way home. Some by boats back to mainland, others on foot to their island accommodations. They drift away from the busy campus to their place of solitude at the edge of the island. Two hundred students are provided with individual rooms to experience the true nature of living on an island. The experience of the edge, living on the line of conflict between land and water. On the edge of the lagoon students are able to ponder and assimilate their daily active experiences in their own bubble. Outside their apartment lie pavilions for interacting with their neighbor, forming small villages. The students are able to have small communities and at the same time enjoy their own selves. Although within close physical proximity to the campus, the lush forest in between provides the necessary buffer for students to let go of work and indulge in play. At least until tomorrow.