Timeline of restoration: Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, OMA
Project: Fondaco Dei Tedeschi
Location: Venezia, Italy
Year: 2017
Architect: OMA, Rem Koolhaas

Stone once said, “You are a product of your Environment”. This is interpreted in many layers of human behaviour. Your surrounding environment is not just the space you accommodate yourself in but also the society that you are an integral part of. Architecture shares a major role in shaping society and creating a variety of platforms for interactions. Structures built in a specific era with a purpose can be used for alternative facilities in the future. One building might play different roles in different time zones, but the importance of functioning should be maintained.

Timeline of restoration: Fondacodei Tedeschi, OMA - Sheet1
Complete Potrait_©Marco Cappellett
Timeline of restoration: Fondacodei Tedeschi, OMA - Sheet2
Open WIndow Faade_©Alessandra Chemollo, Fondaco Dei Tedeschi

The branch of architecture called restoration deals with such projects. Those who fall under this type are studied in detail and always delivered back with retaining the specialities and additions of necessities. This is a way of showing gratitude through the medium of construction to society. A brilliant example of this can be seen in Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, Venice. The bridge of Rialto and Grand Canal merging in the frame to complement the structure of Fondaco Dei what a memorable portrait. This beautiful amalgamation of forms overlooking nature was returned to the people with advanced facilities by Rem Koolhaas, with their astonishing ideas.

Timeline of restoration: Fondacodei Tedeschi, OMA - Sheet3
Openess With Material_©Alessandra Chemollo

Venice shows the qualities of a compact and pact city, with sharing wall structures. The compactness of the structure also reflects the nature and bonding amongst the people. Fondaco Dei reflects the quality of this public square, for people to gather and social meet with a hint of business intentions. As the historical documents, it is dated back to the thirteenth century and has been a firm witness through many years under different rules. The usage and function varied as per the demand of the time, but the structure stood by the river with its pride held high. Initially, it was used as a trading post for German merchants; afterwards, under the rule of Napoleon, it was used as a customs house, and in the end, under Mussolini, it played the role of a post office. Throughout the time frame, the structure served people with its openness and grand gesture.

Timeline of restoration: Fondacodei Tedeschi, OMA - Sheet4
Construction Combination_©Alessandra Chemollo, Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA

Initiating with the additional entrances which open up in the allies of the Venice streets shows the welcoming attitude of the structure. Many parts of the building are open and accessible to the public forming a plaza in the center of the city. A typical central open piazza hosts many public activities and provides a social platform. The design strategy focuses emphasis on maintaining the verticality of the pillars and openness of the punctures. As one level up, the staircases and passages are also planned in such a way that engages the user. Additions of new steel and glass doors reflect the transparency of the inside. All side passages peek through the centre open plaza and connect the user with the centre core through visuals at all levels.

Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA
Retained_©Delfino Sisto Legnani, Marco Cappelletti

The original built arches and columns are retained to tell the stories it has lived through, yet the wooden slit slab covers and use of politely complimenting colours do not steal the show. In the restoration process, he has used a silent modern feature which will be observed but still focuses primarily on the original taste of the built. While opening up the structure to the people, some crucial corner parts are untouched, preserving their importance. But the accessible part is itself so engaging that it involves the user in its journey.

Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA
Microclimate_©Alessandra Chemollo, Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA

In the process of restoration, the design follows a path starting with an entirely open ground floor passing through all four floors with connecting vertical cores till the open roof with a newly added wooden terrace roof complementing the exhibition galleries. Retaining the functioning value, it was originally used as a Warehouse over a while, implementation of the modern-day form of a departmental store compliment and carry forward the fictional legacy. To enhance the indoor experience, light is an essential ingredient. The replacement of all windows makes it more lit throughout and transparent, offering the city view has become one central attraction. This indoor-outdoor interaction encourages user behavior and hosts a collaboration platform for all.

Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA
Concept Section_©OMAConcept Section_©OMA

While observing the design planning section, includes all sorts of activities supporting day-to-day involvement as well as nourishing the curious visits of tourists. It houses public happenings in various forms over different levels. Still, the interconnecting visual network binds it all under one roof. A structure lives up to its true purpose when it can provide freedom of expression to the user group while disciplining them all under its prime function. Venice got to live its history again with the hint of advancement in the shifting dynamics of the modern era, with the considerate planning and designing of Rem Koolhaas. 

Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA
Subtle Combination_©Delfino Sisto Legnani, Marco Cappelletti, Timeline of restoration: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, OMA

One must give back the entity, with addition yet retaining attachment. The Fondaco Dei holds historic importance as well as shares a load of tourist attractions too. While looking at the big picture, in an urban grain any significant structure plays a vital role. The structure evolves through its value and becomes a landmark or a notion. People in society relate deeply with the local marks as they grew up around the structure and its stories. Any built form is a part of billions of stories and experiences of the people, and these memories hold the value which is cherished for centuries. 


  1. Archdaily – https://www.archdaily.com/789167/il-fondaco-dei-tedeschi-oma
  2. OMA Projects – https://www.oma.com/projects/il-fondaco-dei-tedeschi
  3. Archi Tonic – https://www.architonic.com/en/project/secco-sistemi-fondaco-dei-tedeschi/20052220

Bhakti is in her last year of B.Arch. Having a keen interest in scopes of print media; She is exploring the communicative branches of architecture through various mediums. She enjoys experimenting with intangible interpretations of the relationship between space and people, moving beyond the tangible features of Architecture.