Officina delle Zattere

Construction operations: preservation and restoration, technological update and re-assignment of available space

Venice, Italy, 2012
Intended use: exposition centre
Dimension: total indoor surface: 400 square metres – outdoor surface: 100 square metres
Status: completed
Client: Arte Eventi Venezia srl

The building dates back to the 1950s and is part of a monasterial complex owned by the Religious Province of San Marziano. It was originally used as the educational workshop of the Artigianelli Institute where the young orphans who Don Orione gathered from the streets were provided with a place to learn the professions of the blacksmith, lathe turner or cobbler. It later hosted the classrooms and the educational and artisan workshops of the nearby Fine Arts Academy.

Its new function is in line with the history of the Artigianelli Institute, in that the building stands for the ability of historical architecture to adjust to modern times.


The project included the restoration of the rooms and remaining loyal to recurring elements found in early 20th century Venetian industrial architecture. An example of this is the sequence of windows on the first floor.


The new functions of the rooms in the building were carefully designed (exhibit halls, offices, technical space and bathrooms). This included renovating pre-existing systems as well as installing new ones (special sound amplification, video, CCTV, smoke detector etc.)

The distribution networks of these systems have been positioned externally in full view along metal conduits with stainless steel cables to intensify the industrial style of the building’s interior.


Special attention was also given to both natural and artificial lighting.

Lighting engineering was designed and created by Vincenzo Raponi. There is a two-fold system of light sources – blue neon lights in the corridors and lobbies (in this case as well, to intensify the resemblance to the building’s industrial origins) and LED spotlights in exhibit halls of varying intensity and viewpoints.

Natural light can be adjusted so that curators can choose the best exposition of the works of art on display.


We used different types of materials to define the entrance (a large, contoured sheet of stainless steel which was laser cut to create the illuminated indoor logo) and the interior (all décor was made in cardboard).

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