Punta della Dogana
Description from Tadao Ando Architects and associates:
This is a project to remodel into a modern art museum the government-owned historical landmark "Customhouse in the sea” (Dogana di Mare), built in the 15th century on the shore opposite Piazza San Marco. The competition held in Venice finally became a battle between the two teams of Zaha Hadid + Guggenheim Foundation and Tadao Ando + Pinault Foundation (PalazzoGrassi), following which our team was chosen.
The Punta della Dogana building has a simple and rational structure. The volume forms a triangle that directly corresponds to the shape of the tip of Dorsoduro Island, whereas its interior layout is divided into long rectangles by a series of parallel walls.
With great respect for this emblematic building, all partitions that had been added during previous renovations were thoroughly removed in order to recover its original form, at the very beginning of its construction. Through exposing the brick walls and wooden roof trusses, the space retrieved its energy and the memories of the former sea customs were revived.
In the center of the building, a square space spans over two rows as a result of an earlier renovation. As an exception, we kept this structure as it is and inserted a “concrete box” that dramatically transformed the space. Through a dialogue between old and new elements, the building got the power to link its past history to the present and the future.
Our basic approach to the exterior renovation of the building also consisted in carefully restoring the original façades, except the openings which were entirely replaced through this renovation.
The design of the new doors and windows, though very modern, effectively employed Venetian traditional craft.
In the original plan, I proposed to erect a pair of concrete pillars, which would symbolize the dialogue between the “history” and the “future”, next to the entrance facing the Campo della Salute. Although larger debates than expected emerged in the historical city of Venice about this scheme, I intended to realize it over the objections as a monument which would announce the rebirth of the place. However, since it turned out in the process of the project that the infrastructure including 1/3 of the city’s whole communication lines was buried under the site where the pair of the pillars would be built, I was obliged to give up this plan in the end.
The renovation project of the historical architecture generally does not proceed as scheduled. However, I believe this clash and confliction, or dialogue between the old and new will be a driving force to create the future of the city. I will be willing to pursue this theme as long as I continue my carrier as an architect.


15 photos and 4 drawings