Poveglia With the Tides

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  • Poveglia With the Tides
  • June 2015
  • YAC University Island Competition – Entrant
  • Catherine He, Thomas Gaudin and Christian Lam

Poveglia with the tides is a look at how the built environment can respond to the inevitable changes that occur on daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly
cycles – in this case, the constant change of water level. Instead of the knee jerk response of resistance and force, how can we design for graceful obsolescence?

One answer is to respond to change with change.

The program of the university is well suited to the inevitable decline of “dry” or “useable” land, in that the future of higher education (like many other processes) is migrating online. In the foreseeable future, the proportion of students pursuing “distance” studies will increase over those
pursuing traditional “on campus” studies. One can imagine time, perhaps 2100, where the majority of students will be on Poveglia one semester out of three. In turn, the university is designed with both the dynamics of the lagoon and the university in mind. The site is divided into five zones
based on general elevation and its current (and future) relationship with the water. Facilities are located in each zone in accordance to the evolution of the university programming itself.

The main formal approach is to touch the land (and existing structures) as lightly as possible – through elevation, floatation, and consolidation – thereby allowing flexibility, and eventual reclamation of the ground plane by natural forces. An elevated circulation systems allows access to
all parts of the campus as well as an elevated perspective on the forces of nature. In this way, the island becomes an object of observation for both educational and research purposes, as well as for personal and cultural reflection.