Power of Place
Within the Labyrinth続ける/Read More
Chiesa di San Canciano
Venturing into Venice is akin to an intravenous journey through meandering passages of a city conceived upon virtual ground. Our eyes and feet scan the topography of this haptic vascular maze, soon finding ourselves moving sideways in sync with the interlaced cadence of calli, campielli and canali. In time, we succumb to the city’s seductive breathing labyrinth.
How unsurprising then that on one spring day, I found myself unceremoniously sliding into Chiesa di San Canciano, without ever having viewed its façade nor its edificial presence. I was like a child drawn into a mother’s beckoning arms. Not a frontal arresting embrace but a gentle “come this way, inside.”
Entering the side portal, I could see another opposite. It was a passage transecting the narthex, paralleling the street outside, an interlude offering temporary detour – a momentary choice crisscrossing the world of the sacred and the profane.
The architectural genius of this spatial disruption lies in the uninterrupted slice of urban passage suddenly interiorized – held as it were, in a protective bosom within the labyrinth.
The paired side doors invite the community in, pulling the once bustling canalside activities at Rio di S. Apostoli, from Campo S. Maria Nova at the other end. In true Venetian form, this church exquisitely unites the city’s acqua e terra duality. The church, presumably founded in the 9th-century by fugitives from Aquileia, demonstrates a critical lesson of organic urbanism, which I have repeatedly essayed.
Chiesa di San Canciano proffers a disruptive joy – a quintessentially mischievous exemplar defying normative Euclidean logic, as is all of Venice. In the end, anxious passages embedded in the Venetian labyrinth and liberated insights within it, become one. For this, I find myself returning to this non-rule abiding city.
By Shun Kanda, 2015
“Within the Labyrinth” was originally published in Dream of Venice Architecture (2016).
(Full text with imagery here)
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Procession of space
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Dream of Venice
Chiesa di San Canciano was built in the 9th century. John Singer Sargent painted the campo in 1882. When architect Shun Kanda was invited to write about his experience of Venice, it was this exact spot that held him in thrall. Riccardo De Cal then took this photograph to illustrate Shun Kanda’s words for the book Dream of Venice Architecture.
Dream of Venice Architecture is a journey through the remarkable Venetian urban landscape. A cadre of architects and architectural writers explore the uncharacteristic elements that make Venice unique in the world. Often the first reaction to Venice is one of feeling overwhelmed by the astonishing beauty of her existence.
Tadao Ando, Japan; Enrico Baleri, Italy; James Biber, USA; Randy Bosch, USA; Mario Botta, Switzerland; Constantin Boym, USA; Louise Braverman, USA; Vincenzo Casali, Italy; Francesco Da Mosto, Italy; Cynthia Davidson, USA; Michele De Lucchi, Italy; Massimiliano Fuksas, Italy; Jonathan Glancey, UK; Richard Goy, UK; Frank Harmon, USA; Guy Horton, USA; Michael Johnson,USA; Shun Kanda, Japan/USA; Max Levy, USA; Juergen Mayer H., Germany; Robert McCarter, USA; William Menking, USA; Richard Murphy, Scotland; Louise Noelle, Mexico; Dial Parrott, USA; Valeriano Pastor, Italy; Guido Pietropoli, Italy; Carlo Ratti, Italy; Witold Rybczynski, USA; Anne-Catrin Schultz, USA; Annabelle Selldorf, USA; TAMassociati, Italy; Michael Welton, USA; Thomas Woltz, USA; Diana Yakeley, UK; Rocco Yim, China.
Published: May 2016, Bella Figura Publications
Text courtesy of publisher
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This month’s digital calendar gives a glimpse in the midst of the Venetian labyrinth, along canals and alleyways. Take this view with you wherever you go: as your desktop, laptop, or tablet background; or as the background or lock screen on your smartphone. Or print the PDF to hang on your wall.
Come back each month for a new calendar corresponding to that month’s skyMEMO, to carry another aspect of the POWER of PLACE wherever you go.
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Labyrinths like the ones seen in Venice’s streets and canals invite spontaneous discovery, serendipitous encounters. Do you have your own moments of temporary detour in Venice? Or have you experienced this Power of Place elsewhere, at the scale of a neighborhood, a city?
Print this skyMEMO as a card so you can take it with you wherever you go.
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