BOUNDARIES: DRAWING VENEZIA

by Charlie Menefee

It is my habit when trying to see and understand a place such as Venice to seek out what I call for myself the critical juncture or junctures. Critical Junctures are conditions that are very particular to a place and generative of the string/logic of connecting solutions: economic, political, cultural, spiritual, etc. that form the larger material and spatial whole. Finding these junctures is like finding a treasure, as they are the key to the logic of good building. Without knowing and understanding them, the logic of suggesting a future goes poorly founded.

It is a weakness of mine that I do not trust, or let us say depend, on histories to give me firm information. I go first, where I can, to artifacts. In Venice and the Veneto, history and mythology have a more than generous overlap. Both are altered if not invented, both have immense meaning and value, and both are constructions and as such and are highly edited/conscribed. I prefer material references aka primary sources, simply because I can look at them, ask and re-solve my own questions, and come to my own re-solutions. I am a “Show Me” person. It is the only way I know how to be responsible and response-able. Such are my limitations.

In the Veneto I look first to the water because without it there would be no Venice. Since Venice is not a series of rafts or boats floating on the tides of the lagoon but islands formed and in the continuing process of re-forming, it is the making and stabilization of an island that may hold clues to my search. In fact, what I have come to think is that it is the taking of the decision to construct edges to these islands that is critical; it is there that some of the junctures critical to the formation of Venice started and continue to be played out.  If it is your task to join the collective effort to consider or posit a future for Venice and the Lagoon, then first these edges or boundaries need to be fully understood for they are critical in so many ways.

Boundaries both bind and separate. As such they also are places of intersection if not connection and certainly are places of negotiation. They must be seen through multiple contexts over time to understand the complexity, the richness, and the potential of any such condition and the situations that constructed them. This is where to draw.