LECTURE 1 – A very special Water Town: the Construction of Venice

Prof. Paola Pellegrini
Xi’an Jiaotong – Liverpool University

DATE: 21st August 2019
TIME: 14:00 – 15:30 am
LOCATION: Don Orione Foundation, Venice

Venice is a very special town for many reasons. Venice was built in the middle of the lagoon, grouping some islands, firstly during the late Roman Empire, afterwards providing a safe refuge to those who escaped the barbarian invasions. To realize buildings, banks and bridges people had to create a new ground reinforcing the existing soft and flooded soil. Century after century its inhabitants reclaimed lands, reinforced the ground and connected the islands, until they realized the compact and dense city we can see today, but its origin is still evident in the shape of the Canal Grande, its main infrastructure, which maintain the natural path of the water exchange flux between lagoon and sea.
So the unit of the city is the island, the “insula”, and every unit has at least a church and a square, called “campo”. Some islands scattered in the lagoon were specialized and devoted to some uses, such as health, or glass (Murano) or lace production (Burano).
In the middle of the lagoon, Venice has no river and no direct source of drinking water; so a system of water collection and cleaning was conceived and established in every campo and every courtyard.
Venice used to be a port and a world capital of trade between the XII and the XVI; this wealth is well represented in its palaces, especially those along the Canal Grande, and in its churches. Some buildings are architectural masterpieces but almost all follow the same repeated model, imposed by functional and technological reasons and by a shared under-statement, giving the city a rather homogeneous aspect. In general the city is made of flat continuous surfaces, with few exceptions, such as some baroque churches.
Venice’s jurisdictional autonomy from the surrounding Countries gave birth and maintained an unquestionable architectural tradition.

  1. Giulia Foscari, Elements of Venice, Lars Mueller Publishers, 2014
  2. Franco Mancuso, Venezia è una città, Corte del Fontego, 2009

LECTURE 2 – Palladio, one of the Most Influential Architects of the World

Prof. Paola Pellegrini
Xi’an Jiaotong – Liverpool University

DATE: 21st August 2019
TIME: 15:45 – 17:00 am
LOCATION: Don Orione Foundation, Venice

Andrea Palladio (1508 – 1580) is one of the most famous Italian architect and was born in the Venetian region.
Translation and inheritance can be the key words to understand Palladio’s architectural language and extraordinary world-wide success: Palladio was able to connect the present to the ancient past, evolving the first Renaissance legacy and the ancient Rome Classical principles, which he passionately studied at first hand, for the Venetian gentry; but he was also able to spread his ideas to the whole of Europe and beyond thanks to his treatise “Four books of Architecture”, 1570, re-launching the Classical style in the future.

Palladian style, in fact, greatly influenced Western Architecture and especially the UK, where the Palladian revival flourished in the mid 1700, and the United States, where the American Palladianism was started by President Thomas Jefferson.
Palladio architectural language has been often adopted as the proper style for representing wealth, power and institutions: the White House and its super-imposed Palladian portico is certainly the most famous example.

So Palladio is extremely interesting both for the great quality of his buildings and for his influence, which was strong since the 18th century and it is not over jet.

Palladio’s creations are many and all in the Veneto region: some churches in Venice (Redentore, San Giorgio maggiore, Zitelle, San Francesco della Vigna facade), some masterpieces in Vicenza (Villa La Rotonda, la Basilica, il Teatro Olimpico) and a long list of Villas in the Veneto countryside.

Palladio started his career as a humble stonecutter in Padua, where he learnt to make architectural details and sculptures. His life drastically changed when a Renaissance man from Vicenza, Giangiorgio Trissino, helped him to develop as a humanist and to study the main treatise of Roman Architecture, written by Vitruvius.

After these studies Palladio – so called by Trissino after Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom – started his career as architect in the 1540s, building mainly palaces and villas for the Venetian nobles, which at that time ceased to be merchants to become innovative farmers, colonizing the countryside with magnificent buildings, which are at the same time villas and farms.

Palladio’s architecture refers to antiquity – the porch designed as a pedimented temple front is a hallmark of his work – but make of the classical heritage something wholly original and functional.

Paola Pellegrini is Lecturer in Urban Design at the Xi’an Jiaotong – Liverpool University XJTLU, Suzhou PR China.
She holds a Laurea in Architecture and a PhD in Urbanistica (i.e. City planning and Urban design) from Università IUAV di Venezia (Venice University of Architecture) and was Research Associate at the Department of Urbanistica of the same University from 2007 to 2009 under the supervision of prof. Bernardo Secchi.

To accomplish her PhD thesis she was Visiting Associate in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), Cambridge MA, in 2002, where took part to the PhD Program coordinated by prof. Margaret Crawford.

From 2005 to 2007 she was Research Associate at the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture at Università degli Studi di Udine (Udine University), where she joined in to develop the general plan for the middle size city of Udine, in close relation with the city government, and to study current possibilities of medium size city planning.

Paola Pellegrini has been teaching Urban Design and City Planning to undergraduate students as well as master students; she was Associate Professor at Università IUAV di Venezia, in the European postgraduate Master in Urbanism, Consortium of TU Delft, KU Leuven, UPC Barcelona, IUAV; she was Associate Professor of Urban Design at Udine University; she was Associate Professor of Urban Design also at Politecnico di Milano, School of Architecture and Society, international Architecture program.

In February 2014 the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research qualified her as eligible full time Professor in Urban design (national teaching and scientific award).

Her academic research mainly focused on spatial analysis, critique of city planning design tools and theory – in particular the “scenario construction” both as a cognitive practice and proper urban planning tool, planning proposals for tackling sprawling urban areas in Northern Italy (the Veneto and the Friuli Venezia Giulia regions), new design concepts of water and mobility infrastructure.

Paola Pellegrini has always combined academic research and professional practice in City planning and Urban design; among other design activities she was involved in the “Strategisch Ruimtelijk Structuurplan Antwerpen” (2004-‘05) and in the “Le grand pari de l’agglomération parisienne, marché de recherche et développement pour l’avenir du Paris métropolitain“ (2008-‘09).

She has constantly presented her research results as well as her professional activity achievements for their research value in many conferences and seminars in Italy and abroad. She has published some monographs and many articles.

Recently she has been selected as senior expert for some European Union Projects regarding wide areas comprehensive planning and TEN-T, in order to promote the sustainable development of the involved territories.

  1. James Ackerman, Andrea Palladio. UK: Penguin, 1991 (1966).
  2. Bruce Boucher, Andrea Palladio: the architects in his time. NY and London: Abbeville, 2007.
  3. Robert Tovernor, Palladio and Palladianism. London: Thames&Hudson, 1991.