Renovation and redefinition of landmark building in Venice
Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice.

First constructed in 1228, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi was a trading post for German merchants before becoming a customs house under Napoleon in 1806. Depicted by Canaletto and other masters, and photographed numberless times as the impressive but anonymous backdrop for the Rialto, the Fondaco - at 11,000m2 one of Venice's largest buildings - now stands as a muted icon of the Venetian mercantile era. Twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the 16th century, the Fondaco was radically altered again in the 1930s, its structure almost completely replaced by reinforced concrete to allow its new use as a post office. The Fondaco has constantly reshaped itself, accumulating many layers of 'authenticity': its preservation is a history of change.


The Fondaco's current role as a post office has diminished in tandem with the native population of Venice: an annual decline of 1.2 percent mirrors the gradual emptying out of the building. Today, it is largely unused for the first time in centuries. The latest evolution of the Fondaco will reactivate the building a thriving contemporary trading post, in the form of a modern department store. In tandem with the department store, the renovation will create three major areas of commerce-free public space.

The rooftop will be adapted and made accessible, leaving the building's profile intact while unlocking potential for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi as a major destination and vantage point for tourists and Venetians alike, with rare views of the Grand Canal and Venice's stunningly dense roofscape.

The gallerias, which will remain untouched, will form a public promenade.

The courtyard will become a major public hub. As well as new entrances to the building from Campo San Bartolomeo and the Rialto, existing shortcuts through the courtyard, used by locals, will be retained. The escalator reaching from the courtyard to the gallerias can be lifted up, freeing the courtyard for a program of public events as part of cultural masterplan: film screenings, performances, meetings.

Inside the building, 75% of the Fondaco's structure will remain untouched. Occasional interventions in the 1930s structures will consolidate rooms into larger spaces while crucial historic elements like the corner rooms will be preserved. Some uses of the building, lost for centuries, will be resurrected: the walls of the gallerias will once again become a surface for frescoes, reappearing in a contemporary form.

Department stores have historically been incubators for the arts, collaborating with graphic designers, fashion designers, musicians and artists in a very public venue. With the Cultural Masterplan for the Fondaco, our ambition is to resurrect this relationship between art and commerce - a classically Venetian mixture.

OMA's renovation scheme - composed both of architecture and public programming - continues the Fondaco dei Tedeschi's tradition of vitality and adaptation. Venice will acquire a landmark that will become a shared civic facility and a crucial element in the cultural fabric of the city.


Regeneration of the XVI century Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Design Development

Benetton - Edizione Property S.R.L.


Fondaco dei Tedeschi, first constructued in 1228, current structure from 1506, on the Grand Canal adjacent to the Rialto, Venice

11.000 m2 Department Store; mix used public and cultural facilities

Art Newspaper, October 2010


Partner in charge:
Rem Koolhaas

Associate in charge:
Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli

Concept: Andreas Kofler, Augustin Perez-Torres, Miriam Roure Parera, Carlos Pena

Research and Cultural Master Plan: Andrew Chau, Augustine Perez-Torres, Kayoko Ota, Marco de Battista, Miriam Roure Parera, Pietro Pagliaro

Preliminary design and Planning permission: Alice Gregoire, Ciprian Rasoiu, Francesco Moncada, Paul Feeney, Pietro Pagliaro, Ricardo Guedes, Silvia Sandor

Design Development: Alice Gregoire, Ciprian Rasoiu, Francesco Moncada, Paul Feeney, Pietro Pagliaro, Ricardo Guedes, Silvia Sandor


Preservation Advisors
Arch. Alberto Torsello - director of TA s.r.l.

Tecnobrevetti: Giandomenico Cocco, Luigi Cocco

Studio Lagrecacolonna: Adriano Lagrecacolonna, Riccardo Garevello