The Echo | Venice, Italy | Unit 21 | 2020

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Awarded Distinction for Thesis

The project began as an investigation into the many copies of Venice and the idea of the simulacra. I was fascinated by the way in which Venice has been copied all over the world, from the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to the Venice in Hangzhou China, Venice of L.A. to the Ca’ d’Zhan in Florida. Yet, it can be argued that perhaps these architectural dopplegangers should be labelled as architectura ‘echoes’ rather than the ‘copy,’ as a copy implies that it is a similar or identical version of the original. An echo degrades, which is exactly what these copies are. An echo can be both desirable (sonar) and undesirable (telephone systems), reflecting the idea that there can be deliberate and intended duplicates, as well as subtle and unintended architectural duplicates.
The four Ospedali Grandi were charitable institutions that offered boarding, care, and education to the sick, orphaned, and impoverished in Venice. The musical training in the Ospedali Grandi is often thought of as a precursor to the training in European conservatories of the 19th century. They are most famously recognized for educating pupils (called figlie del coro) to professional levels of musicianship. One of the most notable patrons of the Ospedales is the composer Antoni Vivaldi, who spent 37 years of his life as a composer, teacher, and conductor at the Pio Ospedale della Pietà asylum for orphaned girls.
Music transcends time and is present in all communities throughout the world. The universal nature of music means that it is able to reach individuals across all backgrounds and ages. Through the use of both active and receptive music experiences, music therapy is often used in order to help patients improve their health in countless domains such as cognitive, motor, communicative etc.
Located next to the Ospedale SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Venice’s main hospital, the building acts as an annex music therapy centre, detached from the main hospital complex. The design process is heavily driven by the different and particular acoustic environments in the building, as well as the natural light from the sun entering the building.
These key elements, the sounds, the sky, the light and shadows, all contribute to choreographing of these individual spaces. The spaces in the therapy centre are tuned with a variety of different acoustic qualities in order to submerge visitors or patients in the music. The acoustic spaces range from the silent anechoic dead space, to the lively echo chamber. The acoustic spaces not only create musical and sound echoes, the idea of the echo also transcends to the spaces and the architecture. The echo of the spacial qualities and the lighting conditions can be found throughout the building,
The unique design of the roof form is in such that it can controls the natural light in the space and compliments the acoustic atmosphere. The building is designed in such way that it is separated into the roof plane and the ground plane. This allows for vistas straight through the building, from one end to the other. When visitors are inside the building, they are completely immersed into the sounds and the light in the space. This heightens their awareness of the sky above and the acoustic environment.
Due to its location next to the water, the building works with the existing site conditions and therefore will allow the courtyard to be flooded depending on the tide levels. The building is designed to have many tectonics, split onto different heights and level. Therefore controlling the areas of access and paths in which the visitors can use. Because the courtyard is embedded into the ground, it will flood depending on the tide level. The different ground levels are designed in such that it hints at a curated vision of which spaces can and should be used at certain times.