A bright cloud at Arsenale

Construction workshop of a luminous bamboo structure

Article by Emilio Antoniol, published on OFFICINA* 21 | April – June 2018

For years, the design studio Architetture Precarie, based in Castello, Venice, deals with installations, workshops and temporary installations defined as “rural”. In fact, the attention to the use of natural materials such as straw, hay, wood or recycled materials has always been at the base of the recreational-training projects developed by Alessandro Zorzetto, the founding architect of the studio, and Francesca Modolo. On several occasions, Architecure Precarie has demonstrated its ability to respond to different needs, starting from a design idea and bringing it to realization by analyzing and exploiting each time the different formal, environmental or economic features linked to the project.

The challenge launched in the weekend of 6, 7 and 8 April in Venice, at the Tesa 105 of the Arsenale Nord, however, has a different flavor. If the methods of organization are the usual consolidated by the work team, the contour elements are rather original starting from the place. The workshop took place in the historic Arsenal of Venice and the resulting work was installed in the atrium of the Tesa 105 where it will remain open until the beginning of June.

The suspended structure in the Tesa 105

This choice has forced the designers to reflect on the relationship that is established between the object developed during the workshop and the existing building, both on a formal and technical level, evaluating for example loads, spaces, connections and supports as well as modalities suspension of the work. In fact, from the first project design ideas of Architetture Precarie it was the realization of a suspended luminous object, whose lightness could occupy without obstructing the space of the tesa that develops in a vertical direction.

It was a group choral action, carried out in a public space and with the participation of local authorities

Even more original is the choice of material with which to make the work: the bamboo. This is linked to the collaboration with Giacomo Mencarini, founder of the international network Natural Born Builders as a builder of houses in wood & straw but also founder and former partner of Bambuseto, company active in Tuscany where there is also its bamboo forest, from which the pipes used during the workshop.

The workshop started on Friday 6 April with a theoretical part aimed at training the participants on the working techniques, the mechanical and functional characteristics of the bamboo and on its possibilities of use in the architectural field. The two following days were instead dedicated to the practical realization of the work in bamboo. It was a group choral action, as Alessandro Zorzetto told us, carried out in a public space and with the participation of the owners of the spaces: Vela, the City of Venice and with the collaboration of the Association of Architects of the province of Venice.

the workshop took place in the garden of the tesa and in the square in front of the water basin, giving back to the Arsenale the role of forge of production

On the first day, the fifteen participants prepared the main load-bearing structure, a sinuous shaped peg made of marine plywood that was designed, shaped and assembled starting from the panels for the recovery of a nearby installation dismantled by Rebiennale. It was then the turn of the bamboo, whose long pipes of 3-4 years of age were divided into thin bands, very flexible but at the same time resistant.

This phase took place in the external garden of the tesa and in the square in front of the water basin, restoring for a day the Arsenale’s role of “production forge” that is its own but above all involving the participants in a real impromptu design where every problem or question was answered through experiments and shared actions between teachers and students. The second day instead saw the creation of the shell of the “cloud”, consisting of a grid of bamboo bands joined only by strings in hemp cord and supported internally by a ring structure made of bamboo.

The installation was completed with a non-woven, lightweight, economical and semi-transparent finish to allow the light of the LEDs inside the structure to diffuse in a suffused and homogeneous way in all directions. The final phase of suspension of the artwork, made with thin metal cables connected to small winches, it was the crowning achievement of the three days of teamwork, whose outcome is admirable today in the Arsenale spaces.

The suspended structure in the Tesa 105


Article by Emilio Antoniol, Ph.D. in Technology of Architecture at the Iuav University of Venice antoniolemilio@gmail.com

Read the article on OFFICINA* 21 | April – June 2018

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