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A Wacky Urban Concept For Venice That Embraces Its Waterlogged Future

Bam!, an Italian design collective, proposes building a semiaquatic parallel universe in Venice — one that’s part land, part sea, and 110% science fiction.

A Wacky Urban Concept For Venice That Embraces Its Waterlogged Future

When architects can't find work — which is often — they busy themselves by dreaming up quixotic design concepts that almost never get built. Bam!'s proposal for a semi-underwater world in Venice is precisely such a concept — an exercise in pure design fantasy that, on the surface, seems so spectacularly crazy you'd never expect it to leave the drawing board. Thing is, it's not that far-fetched.

Venice is sinking. The ground on which this charming Adriatic city is built has subsided over the years; at the same time, flood waters are surging. Various stopgap measures, like raising the level of floors and pavement, only delay the inevitable. Bam!'s suggestion: Venice should embrace its wet-n-wild future.


To that end, the Italian design collective conceived of a string of crater-like structures that resemble giant steel drums and float around, partially submerged, in the canals, playing host to concerts, art shows, and garden parties. These so-called "bowls" are meant to create a semi-aquatic parallel universe — one that's part land, part sea, and 110% science fiction — for "enjoying the water city in a slow and aesthetic way," Bam!'s Paolo Carignano tells Co.Design. In other words: Water, a cause of endless handwringing and the very thing that many fear spells the death of Venice, is transformed into a source of pleasure.

Obviously, Bam!'s proposal — the winner of a recent design competition co-judged by Bjarke Ingels, the undisputed master of quixotic design concepts — is too impractical to gain much traction among the muckety mucks whose job it is to actually tackle Venice's water problems. (To wit: How would you get from one bowl to another? How would you prevent them from filling up with water in a storm?) Still, it raises a provocative point. Instead of fighting the waves, Venice would do well to try and ride them.


[Images courtesy of Bam!; hat tip to Bustler]