unisa architecture and interior architecture annual exhibition 2021


Jacob Newcombe

master of architecture

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In 1172, democratically elected Doge Sebastiano Ziani decreed a Palace of the People be erected on the banks of the Venetian lagoon. As well as the palace, there was also the establishment of a vast square, in which the inhabitants of the city were given the opportunity to speak with their leaders, to manifest change; to have their power. Ziani’s hopes were to convey, to anyone arriving via water, the political will of the people of Venice, as the heart of the state was now occupied by the citizens themselves. The generations that followed were some of the most prosperous within Venice’s history. But before long, traditional, nepotistic values pressed the city.

That same square today, presently known as Piazza San Marco, is no longer an essential and significant residential amalgamation site. The square, along with the surrounding city, has been desecrated by excessive mass tourism, climate change and political corruption.

A change is needed.

A new architectural typology that encompasses the historical ideals of Ziani. Ideals that have been encapsulated in a building that serves its people, that brings the voices of these residents back to centre stage, and brings decision-making for the city back into the watchful eye of the public. A communal platform for the silenced to stand upon, a hub of ideation that facilitates the curation of dynamic solutions, to an ever-changing environment.


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