Perimeter block, cornerPerimeter block, courtyard
Zattere Co-op
Ignazio Gardella | Venice, Italy | 1954-58
Image of Zattere ...
Canal Facade

ProjectZattere Co-op
ArchitectIgnazio Gardella
AddressFondamenta delle Zattere 401 (Canale delle Giudecca/Calle dello Zucchero)
Building TypePerimeter block, corner
Perimeter block, courtyard
Number of Dwellings22
Date Built1954-58
Dwelling Typesstudio, 2,3,& 4 BR flats
No. Floors5-6
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
Construction TypeRC frame, masonry walls
Ancillary Servicestenant storage at grade

Building anew in Venice has always presented a stylistic dilemma; how could one ever hope to design a modern building that was compatible with the prevailing styles. Gardella's apartments might be thought of as a new gothic palace, a modern apartment building rendered with a veneer of subtle gothicising detail. The ell-shaped building faces across the canal toward the Guidecca and extends down Calle dello Zucchero enclosing a garden courtyard. Entrance is made where the Zattere façade connects to the church of Spirito Santo forming a recessed portal. He entrance lobby connects to two separate stair and elevator cores that service two groups of flats, one facing out to the Guidecca and the other opening to the interior garden space. These two blocks have balconies opening south and west. A separate 3-story house, built later, occupies the north end of the lot and shares the garden courtyard. Both buildings are made with traditional materials, a base and trim in the local travertine and stucco walls. The stone base, the window frames and sills, balustrades, chimneys, doorways and corners are all designed to make reference to 13th century details and ideas. Along the canal, the 6 story high façade is detailed to fit comfortably with buildings to either side. The inflected surface along the canal, the zone of small diagonal windows in the base, the simple repetitive windows, the off-set zone of balconies on the three bottom floors, the exaggerated cornice defined with a continuous balcony and deflected surface of the top floor, and the hipped tile roofs all seem to be design moves to limit the impact of the building mass on the site. The traditional palace elements of base, piano nobile, attic, and roof are thus expressed within the context of a typical medieval Venetian courtyard house. In addition to the obvious palace metaphors, Zattere is also responsive to the multi-family housing traditions of "Venizia Minore". Palazzi minore provided social housing but these beautiful apartments overlooking the Grand Canal and a view of the Giudecca, are luxurious in the tradition of the grand canal palaces of Venice.

Gardella's work in the Rationalist period of the 1930's as exhibited in competitions and exhibits and the "Milano Verde" plan for Milano, changed dramatically after WWII when he, like so many other Milanese architects, adopted a more regional style of building in an attempt to recall previous building traditions. He was one of the architects that Reyner Banham was referring to in his famous article in Architectural Review, written in 1959, where he attacked the "neo-liberty style" as being the abandonment of established modern principles. The Zattere Co-op clearly belongs to this later period.

Samonà, Alberto, Ignazio Gardella e il professionalismo italiano, officiana Edizioni, Roma, 1981, pp. 141-45.

Porta, Marco, L'architettura de Ignazio Gardella, ETAS Libri, Milan, 1985, pp. 116-23.

Architecture and Urbanism, July, 1976, pp. 89-120.

Loi, Maria Cristina, Angelo Lorenzi, Carlo Alberto Maggiore, Fabio Nonis, Simona Riva. Ignazio Gardella, Electa, Milano, 1998, pp. 66-77.

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