Lead Review

  • Book: Dream of Venice Architecture
  • Location: Venice
  • Author: JoAnn Locktov (Editor), Richard J Goy

Review Author: tripfiction



This is the second pictorial book in the “Dream of Venice” series, Here, contemporary architects and architectural writers share their personal experience of Venice. Photographs to illustrate each essay are by Riccardo de Cal.

A portion of the proceeds from each book will be donated to Foundation Querini Stampalia to support the architecture programme in Venice. You can follow them on Twitter.

In the introduction by Richard J Goy poses the question of why this glorious city was built in such an absurd location, piles driven into substrata clay, through the water, ultimately supporting terrific stone buildings that we see today. In the 5th/6th Centuries small colonies started to appear when nowhere else in North Italy (not that it was ‘Italy’ at that point of course) felt safe. These tiny, compact villages, each with a campo, a parish church and a palazzo are largely the foundations we see today.

Architect Frank Harmon talks about how buildings have become symbols of a city, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London St Paul’s Catherdral… and although Venice has La Salute and St Mark’s, for him it is the ordinary house, the trattoria and workshop that form his fundamental notion of what Venice is really about.

Interior designer Diana Yakeley ponders the beauty of the Hortus Conclusis at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a tiny and perfect urban garden, that pays homage to the water and to the written word. For architect Annabelle Selldorf, Venice is a “wholly visceral experience where what we see is so much less than what we perceive or feel“. There are the delights of the little known Gianni Nicelli airport, a super example of the architecture of 1930s Italian Rationalist style; the Palazzina G designed by Philippe Starck, suitably low key so that famous people can come and go with ease.

Landscape architect Thomas Woltz explains that his experience of Venice altered the lens through which he sees the world, he feels he almost has an aqueous tattoo, deep within his being, that endures today. It has been such a powerful experience for him!

This beautifully constructed book details the the fleeting forms of the city, from the tiles, the sottoporteghi, the variety of ancient and beguiling doors that are just everywhere in the city, to the haptic vascular mazes of little streets. There is even mention of the 15 types of lagoon algae (who knew!). As Rocco Yim says, he is enchanted by the city because it keeps enticing him to get lost, prompting new exploration and discovery each time. And that is what makes Venice utterly unique, the grandeur, the detail and its reflective and aqueous nature.

We reviewed Dream of Venice, a collection of essays and complementary photos. Dream of Venice Architecture is a natural progression, featuring personal thoughts from people who who have a specialist interest in architecture. The photography has a dreamy quality to it, often dark, sometimes sombre with a sulphurous hue. These feel like they are the ‘real’ Venice. Dream of Venice, with its brighter and more colourful images and diverse prose, will capture the imagination of casual reader, more so I feel than Dream of Venice Architecture. But I love both and so, I am sure, will you!

Back to book

Sign up to receive our e-newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.