Restoration of the Porta Nuova Tower

The tower was designed in the beginning of the 1800s as crane tower to put the main mast on the ships at the Arsenale in Venice. In 2006 Arsenale di Venezia S.p.A. announced a competition for the restoration of the Torre di Porta Nuova. The winner of the competition was the office run by Francesco Magnani e Traudy Pelzel (MAP Studio). The project aims to ensure the preservation and enhancement of the historic Crane Tower, combining these requirements with the needs arising from its new functions as exhibition space and cultural centre, recovering a surface area of about 800 sqm. The ancient building is subdivided into three sections: a large central space, the higher one, flanked, on one side, by a long narrow rectangular space, on the other by a trapeze shaped one.

Inside the trapeze are organized the most important functions: auditorium at ground floor and a suspended reading room near the roof, otherwise inside the long narrow rectangular space of the building find place with the introduction of new levels (mezzanines) the offices. At the height of 8.57 mt (principal floor level) the three spaces merge into one, dedicated to exhibitions, by means of two large ogival arches. The impressive vertical volume that begins from this point is the key formal and structural feature that the restoration project seeks to foreground and develop, not least by means of the transformation of the system of vertical access with staircases, ramps and elevators.

All the added new volumes and structures are made in Corten steel to emphasize the masonry texture of the existing walls. It’s the strategy employed to keep clear the separation between the old “machine” and the new “facility” that leads to leave all the existing walls not treated, kept visible and simple repaired with reused bricks.