- Partners : Rem Koolhaas, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli
- Project Architects : Francesco Moncada, Silvia Sandor
- Concept Associate : Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli
- Concept Team : Marco De Battista, Andrew Chau, Paul Feeney, Alice Grégoire, Ricardo Guedes, Andreas Kofler, Kayoko Ota, Pietro Pagliaro, Miriam Roure Parera, Carlos Pena, Ciprian Rasoiu, Agustín Pérez Torres
- Design Development Architects : Francesco Moncada, Silvia Sandor
- Design Development Team : Giacomo Ardesio, Paul Feeney, Alice Grégoire, Ricardo Guedes, Giulio Margheri, Pietro Pagliaro, Cecilia del Pozo, Ciprian Rasoiu, Jan de Ruyver, Miguel Taborda
- Construction Architect : Silvia Sandor
- Construction Team : Aleksandar Joksimovic, Leonardos Katsaros, Francesco Moncada, Federico Pompignoli
- Presevation Architect : TA Architettura S.r.l.
- Safety And Coordination Plan : Antonio Girello
- Fire Safety Advisor : Sicurtecno
- Cost Consultant Dd Phase : GAD
- Lighting : Viabizzuno
- Preservation Architect : TA Architettura S.r.l.
- City : Venezia
- Country : Italy
Text description provided by the architects. OMA’s restoration of the 16th Century Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice is complete. Commissioned by the Benetton family in 2009 to transform the 9,000m2 building into a department store, now under a leasing agreement with Hong Kong-based DFS. OMA has nished its work and transferred the building to DFS for their retail t out.
First constructed in 1228, and located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge across from the sh market, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is one of Venice’s largest and most recognizable buildings. It was used as a trading post for German mer- chants, a customs house under Napoleon, and a post of ce under Mussolini. Depicted by Canaletto and other mas- ters, and photographed countless times as the impressive but anonymous backdrop of the Rialto bridge, the Fondaco stands as a mute witness of the Venetian mercantile era, its role diminished with the progressive depopulation of Venice.
Twice destroyed by re and rebuilt (in its current form in 1506), manipulated in the 18th Century, and then subject to
a series of radical architectural interventions in the 20th Century to accommodate the central post of ce under the fascist regime, the Fondaco quietly embodies Venice’s secret brutality. Almost entirely reconstructed with modern concrete technology during 1930s, the Fondaco is a historical palimpsest of modern substance, its preservation span- ning ve centuries of construction techniques. Regardless of the history of its adaptations (towers removed, courtyard covered with glass, windows added, structure rebuilt ...) and the objective lack of authenticity of its structure, its legal status of ‘monument’ (granted in 1987) forbade almost any change.
OMA’s renovation scheme is based on a nite number of strategic interventions and vertical distribution devices that support the new program and de ne a sequence of public spaces and paths. Each intervention is conceived as an excavation through the existing mass, liberating new perspectives and unveiling the real substance of the building to its visitors, as an accumulation of authenticities.
The project – composed of both architecture and programming – opens the courtyard piazza to pedestrians, main- taining its historical role of covered urban ‘campo’. The new rooftop is created by the renovation of the existing 19th Century pavilion, standing over a new steel and glass oor which hovers above the central courtyard, and by the addi- tion of a large wooden terrace with spectacular views over the city. The rooftop, together with the courtyard below, will become public venues, open to the city and accessible at all times.
New entrances to the building are created from the Campo San Bartolomeo and the Rialto; existing entrances into the courtyard, used by locals as a shortcut, have been retained; escalators have been added to create a new public route through the building; rooms are consolidated in a way that respects the original sequences; crucial historic elements like the corner rooms remain untouched. Some aspects of the building, lost for centuries, have been resurrected: the walls of the gallerias will once again become a surface for frescoes, reappearing in contemporary form.
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi will unlock its potential as a major destination and vantage point for tourists and Venetians alike; a contemporary urban department store staging a diverse range of activities, from shopping to cultural events, social gatherings and everyday life. OMA’s renovation, both subtle and ambitious, continues the Fondaco’s tradition of vitality and adaptation, its preservation yet another chapter of the building’s illustrious and multi-layered history. It avoids nostalgic reconstructions of the past and it demysti es the ‘sacred’ image of a historical building. The project was led by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Rem Koolhaas and Silvia Sandor.