Death in Venice | Venice, Italy | Unit 21 | 2020

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Venice, more than any other European city has an endlessly seductive charm, a projection of familiar yet unreal, a possibility of escaping reality through imagination and dreaming. The travels of Marco Polo as depicted in Italo Calvino’s Invisible cities, celebrates the qualities of a city on water, one chapter in particular, the city of Zobeide discusses the differences in perceptions and desire’s around a city through the function of dreaming. Where each individual has a different take on the same events in an imaginary scenario.

Freud (1900) considered dreams to be the royal road to the unconscious, as it is in dreams that the ego’s defences are lowered so that some of the repressed material comes through to awareness, albeit in distorted form. Dreams perform important function for the unconscious mind and serve as valuable clues to how the unconscious mind operates. Freud went on to propose that a major function of dreams was the fulfilment of wishes. Freud distinguished between the manifest content of a dream (what the dreamer remembers) and the latent content, the symbolic meaning of the dream (ie. the underlying wish). The manifest content is often based on the events of the day and the waking lives we prioritise. This mapping diagram illustrates a structure of Freud’s interpretation of dreaming and how it can begin to be connected and visualised into a creative and command-based language of transformations.

Using grasshopper as a catalyst to generate a three-dimensional language and depiction of Freuds Interpretation of dreaming, multiple scripting algorithms separate key terms into a visual language of steps. These transformations distort, condense, revise and displace the starting form of a cube as the initial repressed wish and follows a structure to an alternate and disguised form. This language was tested with a typical façade from the grand canal to symbolise a dreamed interpretation that can constantly vary depending on its user.

Creating a toolbox that can be applied to a theory and topic such as the unconscious, was the introduction in developing a toolbox and series of commands and transformations that can be used to analyse, archive and translate our unconscious state and cycles of sleep. The aim was to generate a new language that can be driven by continuous data and applied in a variety of states to create architectural form, the result was a ‘Toolbox for Venice’. These operations use the input and data recorded from a fitbit device to translate the time and forgotten states while we sleep, REM, Light, Deep and Waking moments are disguised in cubic and smoothed forms that can be used to create architectural construction and landscape.

Venice is not a place without any defects, one that Is dominated by our waking conscious demands, tourism driven by the commercial gain that it has to offer has resulted in a loss of identity and ownership by local venetians. Venice experiences a phenomenon “acqua alta” due to exceptional tide peaks in the Adriatric Sea that has caused multiple damages by continuous flooding which were key influences to the projects focus. The population on mainland Venice is now lower than the inhabited cemetery island of Isola Di San Michele.Located in the lagoon close to Venice, has been the city’s cemetery (cimitero) since the early nineteenth century. As Venice is an island community, it’s not really surprising that its graveyard is also an island. Formerly two islands, which are now joined together, the Isola di San Michele (St. Michael) is dedicated to the dead and is occupied only by churches and long ranks of tombs. It is a location that can be argued as an unconscious and sacred fortification. With a fixed capacity that is reaching its limits, new regulations have lead to the maximum duration of rest to 10 – 20 years depending on the grave location.

This design project proposes an extension and creation of a new island that will accommodate a crematorium and memorial, adopting a methodology and archival storage of hard data recoded from the unconscious cycles of our sleep. The new island is formed by the existing structure and gridlines and separated into individual segments of time, these are used to bury a month’s duration of sleep through the scripting of a contoured and exposed landscape controlled by my independent heartrate recordings. It reinforces and focuses on an architecture which works independently and continuously over time, day and night, user and architect. Through automated scripting and grasshopper algorithms, the celebration of the unconscious and conscious is collaged together as equals, a crematorium which is aligned by the combination of both active psychoanalytic states.

After 16 weeks of design data, the constant battle within independent recordings has led to an in-depth and complex building that encourages periods of rest, condolence and peace. The project capitalises on displays of  raw data exploration within multiple scales, varying from the patterns and projection of light, deep, REM and waking periods in a combination of forms. Through the creation of facades, walls, rooftop gardens, pavilion structures, floors, tiles, stairs and even the ribbed formwork of a concrete ceiling, these patterns and translated grids of data can be seen in both two- and three-dimensional volumes. The project encourages future development as well as compromising the nature of flooding through an exposed landscape that is constantly fluctuating, changing between accessible and inaccessible, conscious and unconscious.