Upcoming Journey

Venice 2021: Overtourism – Biennale – Pandemic

Reisebeschreibung in deutscher Sprache

A Critical Excursion to a Dying (?!) City From 12 to 18 September 2021

Few areas have been as strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the tourism sector. Venice and the pandemic’s effects on mass tourism have been broadly cited and analysed during the last year. For example, cruise ships have not been allowed to moor in the city since the beginning of the pandemic. Consequently, dolphins returned to the canals of Venice in spring 2020. The international press reacted with euphoric headlines.

However, some Venetians believe that the dolphins were never gone — residents and tourists simply did not see them anymore. Due to the pandemic restrictions, it has become visible that fewer people are permanently living on the island. There are numerous reasons for this, but excessive mass tourism has certainly brought long-term changes to the city.

There is no solution in sight. Economically, the city is strongly dependent on visitors from all over the world. Conflicts within the city government often focus on the city’s environmental or financial policy. Over the past few decades, the preservation of the historic centre and flood protection have regularly brought the city to the brink of insolvency. Since the adoption of the Venice Charter (1964), a fundamental document of European heritage preservation, and a flood disaster moving the world in 1966, protecting the old town has become an international challenge. Venice was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

As part of our excursion, we will look at the past one hundred years of urban development. For instance, the city’s Biennale resulted from a cultural revaluation after Venice became politically and economically insignificant in the 19th century. During the Italian fascist’s reign from 1922 to 1943, cultural projects were initiated to give the city a new meaning. During those years, the town was administratively expanded to the mainland. The industrial port of Marghera was an economic prestige project of the fascist elites.

The cultural upgrading of the old city centre on the island and the industrial urbanisation of the mainland have changed the city’s image and its future to this day. During our journey, we will follow these traces and will also visit the neighbourhoods on the mainland. Currently, these are being strongly developed. The hospitality industry can offer lower prices on the mainland (e.g. construction of two A&O hostels in 2019). New cultural buildings (e.g. M9 Museum of the 20th Century, Sauerbruch Hutton, 2019) and subcultural project spaces are supposed to revive the neighbourhoods. Deindustrialisation and urban redevelopment are significant tasks in Mestre and Marghera.

What Will Happen During Our Excursion?

What will Venice’s future look like? What potential lies in sustainable urban redevelopment, with and without the pandemic? Is there a return to mass tourism? During our trip, we would like to find answers to these questions and get in touch with local people and associations who are currently asking the same questions. This will help us understand ​​the complex political, economic and social conditions and interests. Venice has become a place for general experimentation and debate with mass tourism due to its unique history and location. Therefore, we might find answers which can be transferred to other contexts and practices.

Initially, the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture should have taken place in 2020 and was rescheduled to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During our journey, we will visit the Architecture Biennale together. We are looking forward to the diverse approaches to this year’s title „How will we live together?“ (Curator: Hashim Sarkis, Lebanon, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at MIT). Next to individual visits of the exhibitions, we will discuss and reflect on the Biennale’s role for the city and our role as visitors. Getting to know the Biennale, one of many catalysts for Venice’s tourism, will offer the first answers to our travel topic.

Who Is Organising the Trip?

Jannik and Korbi

We studied together at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany and know each other since that period. We will integrate our experiences from historical urban research, architecture, political activism and educational work into the planning of this excursion. Jannik spent two Erasmus semesters in Venice and got to know the island life.

We do not see ourselves as experts on this trip. Instead, we invite you to a collective experience during which all interests and needs will be considered. If necessary, we will take care of Italian-language translations.

When Will the Trip Take Place?

Sunday, 12 September to Saturday, 18 September 2021 (7 program days)

You should organise your arrival and departure accordingly. To not miss any program, we ask you to arrive by Saturday, 11 September and depart Sunday, 19 September 2021 the earliest.

We are happy to give you information on the various travel options to and from Venice and, if necessary, connect you with others from the travel group. Depending on the transportation means and the region you are arriving from, travel costs within Europe will likely be 75 to 250 euros.

How Much Will the Trip Cost?

We would like to discuss the exact costs with you and the travel group. Therefore, our calculation is dependent on the wishes and expectations of the group. We will ask you to transfer a participation fee shortly before the trip. The price includes accommodation during all program days in group accommodation (double or multi-bedroom) and all necessary entrance and program fees. Single room accommodation can be organised and will add additional costs.

Participation fee: 340 euros

Furthermore, you should plan with costs for food and drinks of approximately 15 to 30 euros per day.

COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy

As of beginning of June 2021, we are optimistic and expect that the trip can take place. The Architecture Biennale’s exhibitions opened on 22 May 2021 (current information on the Architecture Biennale homepage). In May 2021, the Italian government loosened inner-EU entry restrictions, and a quarantine is no longer necessary. We will take a final decision in mid-June on the feasibility of our journey. We are looking forward to your registration for the trip until then.

Contact and Registration

We are organising an online info meeting in the evening of Tuesday, 29 June 2021. Please contact Korbi for all questions and registration until then.

Who Is Spatial Interest?

Spatial Interest e.V. is a young Germany-based association critically examining architecture and urban spaces. We wish to facilitate comprehensive perspectives on diverse sociopolitical issues. Travelling is one of our preferred methods to look behind the obvious and get in touch with local people. We invite discussions that last longer than our excursions and aim at transferring lessons from the excursions into our own spatial practices. We are unified by being interested in the production, conditions and consequences of architecture and space. We see ourselves as a loose collective of curious people.