Sketching Venice: An Online Journal of the Venice Biennale

By Jonathan Combley


Venice embodies the ideals of any architect, where sheer determination and will have enabled it to battle the seas and resist the soft sands on which it is built.

The city’s strong naval fleet empowered Venetians to trade well beyond their borders. Silks, mar­ble, and spices were sourced from afar, and with them came many foreigners to its port. The city embraced this diversity of Byzantium, Islamic and Western cultures, where today fragments of this are evident in the water fronted palaces, gothic cathedrals, turrets and towers which rise above the sea, and create a truly unique textured city.

Venice is the birth place of influential architects from the antiquity. Massari, Sansovino, and Pal­ladio all had a major influence on Western Archi­tecture, and it is here, in Venice where they devel­oped their design ideals. I have read about Andrea Palladio’s Villas of Veneto and his San Giorgio Maggiore Church in Venice, it would be an amaz­ing opportunity to walk through their corridors and experience their spaces in reality.

David Chipperfield, the curator of this year’s Venice Biennale has highlighted that through the diversity in our profession a certain commonality still remains. This commonality allows architects, designers, innovators from around the world to meet at events like this, and partake in compel­ling dialogue and debate around new discourses in architecture. Venice, historically, has incorpo­rated this diversity and celebrated our common­ality regardless of our cultural roots. That is why the city becomes a perfect host for the 13th International Architecture Exhibition: Common Ground.

Learning about Venice’s past and partaking in the current exhibition events would therefore be an incredible contribution to the development and understanding of my architecture, where highly acknowledged architects from around the world would share and display their work.

Given my pre­vious experience in exhibition design, the Venice Biennale would provide interesting analytical mate­rial, in terms of representation techniques and new media presentation methods.

I find sketching and drawing gives an individual the power over how they convey an idea. A sketch can capture an atmosphere, and active the imagination of the viewer. I will therefore be doing a number of sketches during my time in Venice, and communicate my experiences of this year’s most celebrated architectural exhibition.