I walked past a renovation site yesterday on the ground floor of a large rather non-descript apartment building beside Palazzo Morosini Brandolin on the Grand Canal (near the Rialto Pescheria) and was reminded of Lidia Panzeri's observation in The Venice Report (Cambridge Univ Press, 2009) that "It is inappropriate to speak of 'regular' maintenance, as in Venice any maintenance is exceptional in character." And the same can certainly be said of renovations like the one pictured above as well.
The long oak piles (at least 3 meters long) upon which Venetian buildings were famously constructed were, as Deborah Howard writes in her Architectural History of Venice, so expensive that they were only used when absolutely necessary, and usually only beneath those structural walls of a building that had to carry the greatest load. In contrast, "interior walls," she notes, "had less substantial foundations, a fact that has led to subsidence in many cases." Looking through a window in a narrow calle at the work going on above I wondered if subsidence of the interior walls was an issue here, but not knowing when the building was even put up in the first place it was hard to guess exactly what was going on. At some point the base of the interior walls looked to have been reinforced with concrete, but how recently I don't know.
Venice was a city born of the most extraordinary engineering, and so the work goes on, out of sight, anonymously, but no less extraordinarily.
|The covered exterior of the building under renovation, with Palazzo Morosini Brandolin at right|