From A to (A)

The Exploration of Historic Preservation Relating to Sea-Level Rise in Venice, Italy

Gemilia Lam

Matthew Soules    Javier Campos    Kees Lokman

A is an original which goes through the process of restoration and conservation. A will be A* in the restoration theory or be A/Z under contemporary conservation theory of respectful distinction between old A and the new Z intervention. “(A) to A” is the transformation under radical preservation. (A) is an anticipated protected version of A in absorbing emergency, environmentally-changed conditions.

This thesis is an alternative approach to preservation that critiques the existing restoration and conservation theory of heritage. Theories focus on permanent reconstruction but lack sustainability regarding the rapidly changing context. In the radical preservation from Rem Koolhaas and Fred Scott, heritage is an irreversible asset that needs preservation as future protection, not present reparation. With the threat of shrinking preservation intervals and climate change, a new preservation vision must adapt to the changing context; if not, heritage is soon to be obsolete or erased. This thesis research is supplementary to Rem Koolhaas’s theory concerning future emergency environmental change resulting in a change in cultural context. The time to preserve is ‘now’, before the context, time and heritage are changed by the new cultural context of the next century. This thesis focuses on the flooding context in Venice as both a challenge and an opportunity for future preservation. Venice’s horizontal water culture is an asset. Its vertical relationship, though seen as a threat, can also be an asset and opportunity for cultural adaptation. Besides the typical preservation work, the supplementation technique deployed by Rem Koolhaas will apply to not the current cultural context but the foreseen new cultural context of 200 years onward.

Site model


Concept diagram

Concept Diagram

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