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Tadao's Ando renovation

Punta della Dogana project

Tadao Ando drew up his plans for the new centre quickly. In effect, if one looks at his drawings one sees that, from the first, the broad outlines of the project were clear in his mind. The characteristic layout of the former warehouses, which occupy the triangular tongue of land where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal, was to be maintained.

And while extensive work on the foundations was to be carried out – to safeguard the structure from humidity and high water – the layout of the existing lofts was to be modified in order to create a space able to house the artworks of the François Pinault Collection. At a point almost dead-centre of the triangular floor plan, Ando immediately envisaged the creation of a new space standing the entire height of the building: a sort of pivot for the entire layout, this would occupy one of the middle warehouse aisles and was to be created in smooth and polished cement, a material that is now a recognised leitmotif of Ando’s architecture. This axial point – through which run all the routes within the structure – forms a cube, rising vertically within the volume of the building.

The work of restoration had to remove the unwanted accretions that had accumulated over time, with the new partition walls, stairs, walkways and service facilities all clearly identified as such. In effect, there is no attempt to disguise these new additions within the old body of the structure. Instead, there is a continual play of juxtaposition – almost as if Ando’s intention were to insert within the ancient building new volumes and levels that seem to mark out the stratifications added over time, organising them into a veritable spectacle of the structure’s own history.

Finally, he had the idea of creating gates for the water entrances that are explicit quotations of the wonderful gate that Carlo Scarpa designed in 1956. The design of these new doors and windows, though very modern, effectively employed Venetian traditional craft. Tadao Ando has thus succeeded in establishing a dialogue between old and new elements, creating a link between the history of the building, its present and its future.

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