Joel Freeson Carico : Architect
Venice  Italy

This is a project created as a submission for an open competition run by Arquitectum (  The task was to design a bridge that would include a museum and cafeteria. The new bridge would replace the existing wood bridge at the entrance to the "Great Channel" or Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.

Aerial view of the Grand Canal (Great Channel) in Venice, Italy
Map of Venice with the competition area outlined in red
To quote from the competition guidelines:

The competition’s challenge is to create a typical symbol – in this case, a bridge – of the structure of a city that has great historic value – in this case, Venice – which involves a new kind of use - in this case, a museum.  This new element should “speak” of its own small urban universe while at the same time it should “celebrate” the city, whether by association or disassociation.

The “Bridge-Museum” to be designed is meant to be part of the efforts that are taking place nowadays in many cities around the world as “fusion projects”, in which an attempt is made to renovate the organizational configuration of an area –neighborhood, sector or center fallen into disuse or that has not grown at the same pace as others – through the implementation of new uses, in order to make it more dynamic. This is why this Bridge-Museum tries to revitalize an important area of Venice (the entry into the city from the most important side of the “Great Channel”) while it proposes a new facade that can be seen from the east and which serves as an entry portal from which one can appreciate the beginning of the enormous zigzagging facade created by the inverted “s” that is formed by the “Great Channel”.

At the same time it aims to reinforce the existing route that connects many streets that link together to create a virtual axis that unites (from the southwest to the northeast) the entire central area of the neighborhood (sistieri) of San Marcos, passing through the Francesco Morosini square (or campo), the Campo San Angelo, the Campo Manin, the Campo San Salvador, to end after crossing the “Rialto” Bridge, at the great Campo San Giacomo.

In this way the new route would include a walk through the different monuments already in place, leaving the Contemporary Museum for the end of the route, turning the route into the experience of beginning at one milestone (the Rialto Bridge) to end at another: the new “Museum-Bridge” of La Academia.

The idea of locating a complementary program in the bridge gives the city the possibility of using it in a more dynamic way. One which makes travel from one side to the other not just an interesting spatial experience, but also one that has a cultural and living function that invites people to stop, be and stay inside a contemporary architectural structure which reflects upon the history – past and future – of the city of Venice.

Another objective of the "Museum Bridge" is that the city's users may experiment travel over the Channel as an experience that is not ephemeral or transitory (as it is now), but as a way to enter – at a different scale- into the very history of Venice, expressed through its buildings and palaces.

The Project must therefore create an avant-garde awareness regarding urban renewal, planned recycling, and intervention in important historic heritage sites. This project, as we mentioned before, will become part of the public initiative of the Commune of Venice for the integrated development of the city towards the future.

For additional details of the competition please scroll to the bottom of the page.