laba Studio VENICE 2015/16


Tourism and heritage—two fundamentally Western concepts—are usually presented as conflicting entities, the first being tied to economy and leisure, and the latter to culture and identity. We accept that both might seldom and only slightly converge, in order to create synergies, but reality is quite different. Tourism and heritage are not only intimately tied together, they attune to each other. The tourism industry and cultural heritage operate in a circular logic of self-justification: the industry of nostalgia. Under the pretext of (supposed) heritage preservation, the industry of nostalgia aims at preserving Venice as a simple one-dimentional form. It is not the city of Venice in any sustainable sense that preservation protects, but rather its imago: the idealized collective projection that the outside world has forced Venice to become. The industry of nostalgia turns Venice into a caricature of itself.
laba Studio 2015/16 will focus on the Venetian Lagoon and its immediate hinterland with the aim of reevaluating the city’s relationship to cultural heritage, its inner local livelihood, and its perimeter hinterland.
The goal of this studio will be to question the paradoxical role of preservation and our society’s relationship to monuments, museumification, and the commodification of culture. We will reflect on the historical debate on Venetian style, experiment with ways of responding to the condition/aesthetic of artificiality and simulation, and investigate how the insertion of specific programs into the city might bring “reality” back to the islands.

Project description/Semester booklet (PDF)

Introtrip Sept 14, 2015



Duration of atelier: 2 semesters. laba offers a year long course dedicated to one subject matter. The inscription can only occur in the fall semester. The inscription will be limited to 25 students. Content: The first semester investigates the topic at a territorial scale with an interdisciplinary approach. During the second semester students propose their own architectural projects based on the strategic masterplan carried out in the first semester. This procedure can be seen as a dress rehearsal for the master thesis project. Project theme 2015/16: Industrial Nostalgia, Venice: the industrial production of simulated heritage. Project site 2015/16: Venetian Lagoon. Field trip: A first intro trip will take place in Basel around the theme of heritage production and preservation. The second field trip will take place in Venice, in December, during 10 days, at the end of the first semester. The costs are within the prescribed amount defined by the SAR: 300 CHF per semester, so a total of 600 CHF for the whole academic year. Atelier location: laba (laboratoire Bâle) is located in the old city centre of Basel at the Ackermannshof, a building dating back to the 12th century. The majority of classes and reviews are held there. Towards the end of the semester table critiques and the final review will occur at the EPFL in Lausanne. Atelier spaces: Students have atelier spaces in Basel and at the EPFL. Financial implications: Students will receive a grant from the EPFL to cover the costs for weekly travels to Basel and for accommodation. Teaching assistants: Salomé Gutscher and Stefan Hörner. Group work: Students will work in groups of five in the first semester, while dealing with the territorial scale. During the second semester architectural projects are developed individually or in pairs. Language: the official atelier language is English. Presentations can also be held in French. Table critiques can occur in English, French or German.