As you walk, your fingers trail over the concrete wall beside which you pass: friable and gritty, the surface scratches your fingertips lightly, exciting in its uneven regularity. A seam passes, the protruding liquid globule of a moment of concrete flow rendered eternal. On the far side, the surface becomes smooth, almost soft as your hand moves over its extensive gloss.
In order for a project the scale of the Hospital to move forward in a city as historic and phenomenally particular as Venice, the quality of finish is an essential consideration. To that end, a series of studies into the materiality imbued by various sorts and configurations of formwork or finishing.
Concrete formwork is the oft-invisible figural negative to the concrete objects we know and love. While some architects succeed in allowing this object of formation to remain legible in the final product, the formwork marks are more often plastered over, sealed, hidden as carefully as possible, erasing the process from the final object.
This series of details stemmed from the desire to turn site-cast concrete formwork from something which is ritually obfuscated after its primary function is complete into an organizational datum which facilitates multiple processes after the concrete has cured and the form been removed.
For a project investigating Venice, the original city of synthetic land, the complex ground condition merits a uniquely detailed solution. If this detail is to be reducible to the design team which created it, as the overarching claim of this thesis posits, the design must be facilitated by a productive cooperation between architect (yours truly) and a professional who understands the complexity of grounding — in this case, a geotechnical engineer. With the help of reports from the Universities of Padova and Bologna, USC, and the American Society of Civil Engineers with a soils specialist to unpack them, I’ve created a design for grounding the reinvigorated Venice Hospital.