Dream of Venice – Architecture

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Dream of Venice Architecture is the second book in the series edited by JoAnn Locktov that shares the enchanting beauty of the city. Like her first book Dream of Venice – where Locktov collected short essays from people who have been impacted by the city – the present book focuses on essays by architects and architectural writers who know Venice. Photographer Riccardo De Cal’s images of La Serenissima give wonderful life to their words and give us a glimpse of his private Venice where the present meets the past in mist shrouded piazzas and modern spaces.


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For me personally, Venice is the city where I can breathe history. Having first visited over three decades ago, it’s the one city in the world where not so much has changed. Architect Richard Goy’s enthralling introduction speaks to the foundations and building of the city. He recounts how the earliest Venetians took refuge from the chaotic mainland in the 5th century creating their homes and buildings on the islands by driving millions of wooden piles into the clay and then building the equivalent of horizontal rafts on top, from which the city we see today sprung. Imagine that – some parts of the city nowadays are still held together by wooden piles that are over 700 years old (and by some accounts magically still in perfect shape).


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But Dream of Venice Architecture is not only for those like me who’ve visited the city. For us, it triggers wonderful memories, but it’s also a book for those who dream of going and for them the book will help capture the imagination. Architect Frank Harmon speaks of the ordinary homes of Venetians and how their facades resemble patterned and colored carpets hung out to dry in the dappled sunlight filtering through narrow canals and alleys. Architect Annabelle Selldorf reminds us of the feeling of Venice – the sounds and smells, walks that hug canals and rise and fall over innumerable bridges. Several of the other authors write about their arrivals and first impressions of Venice, which of course, made me revisit my own first moment of eager anticipation as I took the vaporetto from S. Lucia, down the Canal Grande and into S. Marks in my teens.


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I also utterly enjoyed just leafing through the photographs of the book. Always looking for inspiration for my next project, a Church’s entrancing marble floor suddenly got me thinking about tile patterns and placement. Details of the carvings of heavy oak doors had me jotting down notes about how I could add depth and drama to a wall at the end of a long bedroom hallway. A richly saturated turquoise door suddenly encouraged a bold new color palette for a project. Books like Dream of Venice Architecture that are filled with gorgeous photographs should be part of everyone’s library if only to allow us a moment of respite from our daily routine.


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A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Dream of Venice Architecture will go to the Foundation Querini Stampalia. The Foundation was the vision of the illustrious family whose name it bears and is the legacy of Count Giovanni Querini Stampalia who had the great foresight to leave his Palazzo and all his family’s possessions to the city in 1869 for the whole world to enjoy. With furnishings and paintings dating from the 18th century to the present, the Museum encourages visitors to experience Venice through the centuries while its programs of literature, poetry, dance and music promote the continuing artistic life of the city. We can all thank Locktov for generously supporting the Foundation and the life it breathes into this remarkable city.


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Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel Interiors+ Art Ltd., a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.

image credits: dream of venice architecture: Riccardo De Cal, Asolo, IT.