Echoes of steps from memory

Location: Vigonovo, (Venezia)
Designer: 3ndy Studio, via Pava 58, Vigonovo VE
Project: flats and offices
Construction period: 2007-2011
Net floor area: 685 m2
Architects: 3ndy Studio, via Pava 58, Vigonovo VE
Partners: Art Historian Philippe Daverio; Artist Giorgio Milani
Building firm: Costruzioni Canova srl
Photographer: Fernando Guerra
To revive a location and restore its antique splendour also means recalling those memories that lived there

In continuity with the exceptional artistic and historic wealth of the Brenta Riviera, back in the first decade of the 19th century, the historic centre of Vigonovo, a small town between Padua and Venice, was a well-affirmed location along the main provincial Via Veneto. Shortly after Villa Zanon was built, an impressive building for its architecture and because it was to become the future Town Hall and the Campiello (Town Square). At the end of the 1800s, to complete the Campiello, a small building was erected with a series of arches on the ground floor and an elegant series of double-lancet windows on the first floor: this significant visual relationship between the Campiello and Villa Zanon was interrupted in the mid 20th century due to the new town planning system, which placed the complex in the background with respect to the main road, contributing to its rapid decline and inevitable abandon, which culminated with a fire in 1984. Not only the architecture in itself was lost but also the historic architectural memory it enclosed.
The 3ndy Architecture and Design Studio was responsible for the restoration project for the Campiello, which was inaugurated in September 2011, and focused on restoring value to an important part of the town of Vigonovo, creating a new social meeting place to complete the historic town centre.
To revive a location and restore its antique splendour also means recalling those memories that lived there, fragments of history, people, everyday life and traditions that can be collected and traced forever on a sheet of paper.
This immense sheet has become an enormous sculpture in the Campiello project, formed from 190 sheets of corten steel, for a total area of more than 300 square meters, which is read like a gigantic, enigmatic page from a book.
The idea was to repropose the design of the 19th century building façade which had been destroyed by the fire. It could have been reconstructed, but would have been a false representation, or the idea of recollection could be pursued, which was the final choice.
The façade designed by the 3ndy Studio reproduces all the dimensions of the lost façade, the layout of the windows, and also suggests the layout of the marks left by time on the plaster. To complete the façade and render it unique, the Studio called on the sculptor from Piacenza, Giorgio Milani, thanks to the suggestion by Philippe Daverio, who was also a protagonist in this great artistic masterpiece.
Milani has written on the page, with fullness and void created by the letters of the alphabet on corten steel panels. This generated the “Echo of steps from memory” a work of lettering, a composition of letters and symbols chosen by the artist, Giorgio Milani, according to their 19th century origins (the year when the building was first built) and their aesthetic balance of 22 different alphabets, capital and small letters in a different reworking of “graces and canes” to create an aesthetic and cultural harmony.
However, each character had to be slightly altered to enable laser cutting them, which involved numerous technical difficulties. The final result is packed with meaning, and is an embroidery of words that create a weave that recalls the old “skin” of the building, that surface decline that time had designed over it.
During the day it is not easy to distinguish the quotes that Philippe Daverio and Giorgio Milani have chosen, unless one looks at the work very carefully and calmly, so a long bench has also been designed for people to sit and contemplate the work. A few keys to the quotes have been incised on the doors to each flat (“The door we never opened” T.S. Elliot), and others have been incised in the rose garden.
When it is dark, the work is revealed by the light which filters from the panels and highlights the verses for anyone who wants to read them and keep alive the memory and history of this place.

Acciaio Arte Architettura 52