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Redesigning Venice works in theory only

The 2011 Venice CityVision Competition is like lots of other city-based urban redesign contests in that it challenges architects, engineers and designers to come up with innovative ideas that make use of new and sustainable materials and building methods in a way that’s visually arresting and ultra modern while also making reference to the city’s history. It’s a lot to ask, especially when you consider that the winning proposals are hardly ever implemented.

Still, hundreds of people, including plenty of big, reputable firms compete. Maybe a lot of it is just portfolio building. Maybe they know they’re projects will never get made so they can indulge in their wildest, construction-defying fantasies. Take the winning proposal for this year’s Venice CityVision, designed by Bam! Studios. If it were actually built it would put about two hundred pits inside the canals, deep and wide enough to hold performers, artists, beautiful landscaping and room for people to walk around and hang out. It’s a very cool idea, and cool looking, too, and it successfully fulfills the competition’s main caveat, to “address the lost physical connection between residents and the waterways” since the whole gondola thing is pretty much only used by tourists nowadays.

Cool, yes. But practical? Doable? No.

So what’s the point of generating all these great ideas and getting everyone all excited if it never goes anywhere, and people are left with what shoulda, woulda, coulda but won’t? Sounds like a job for Quirky, perhaps?