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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]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.