The reuse of formerly abandoned islands in the lagoon of Venice is a socially polarizing movement. Some people view it as the way of the future development while others see it as a danger for speculation and irreversible damaging interventions. Over the past three decades the municipality of Venice has encouraged endeavours to privatise many islands with longterm lease contracts. In this way they hope that investment would bring positive effects for the city.
In recent years, however, awareness of the detriments of such developments has increased. Activist groups and non-governmental organizations put increasing scrutiny on the economic and social consequences. The increased presence of sold islands in local and national media has intensified the debate on architectural operations as well. Due to a missing, active involvement many problems stay unsolved: architecture does not offer solutions for geographically peripheral but contextually central issues. The exodus of citizens in many parts of the lagoon indicates that there is a need to find new strategies for the abandoned islands.
The project of ‘Maritime Oasis’ consists of three major objectives: The first is the assessment of existing architecture on relevant islands in the lagoon. The second concerns the balance between privatisation and the appropriation of spaces for the public. The third major objective is to confront site-specific difficulties and offer elaborated, hands-on approaches which can be exemplified by the transformation of Poveglia island. Poveglia is hereby taken as pars pro toto for the widespread phenomenon of abandoned islands in general. The project presents a detailed scenario where the island is turned into a university campus.
© ateliermarsala 2017