Learning from Venice


Urban challenges and opportunities in the Anthropocene

People in Venice Copyright: CC BY NC

"All cities should be like Venice." (Jan Gehl)



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The famous city planner Jan Gehl refers in the above mentioned quote to the fact that Venice fulfils many criteria for a city in human scale with a high quality of life: It is car-free, offers places to stay and was designed for pedestrian traffic. But what influence have further factors, such as the unique island location, the ensembles of famous architecture and the special transport network, on life in the city of Venice? What role plays the constant presence of the forces of nature? Recently, last November, the city was again hit by the Aqua Alta phenomenon and completely flooded. However, Venice is not only in danger of sinking (between 1900 and 1970 the city sank 23 centimetres), but also of steadily losing the above-mentioned quality of life. The original inhabitants and service providers can no longer afford to live on the island due to the increased tourism and the resulting higher real estate prices. The city is losing its local, identity-creating shops and its authenticity, as the "real" life takes place elsewhere in the country, outside of mass tourism. The everyday moments, encounters and movements that Jan Gehl has been documenting and analyzing for 50 years in the world's capitals in his search for the human scale in our cities, Venice is slowly losing.

The aim of the seminar is to understand and discover the challenges and opportunities for humane urban living spaces in the Anthropocene, using the city of Venice as an example. In doing so, the aim is to uncover, through a comprehensive analysis, the factors that made Venice worth living in and, in part, still do so.

In preparation for the excursion, the students will conduct their own research on the city of Venice in small teams and present themselves to each other on site in Venice. At the same time, the teams will conduct selected comprehensive research on the topic: Urban Challenges and Opportunities in the Anthropocene. Finally, the results will be presented and discussed in a small exhibition.