The theme of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, “How will we live together?” encourages individuals to consider the role of the architect in creating spaces for inclusion, questioning the architect's role as a “cordial convener and a custodian of the spatial contract”. GHETTO, our theoretical project, imagines a physical conduit for the redistribution of wealth from tourists to refugees by transferring the equity garnered in the development process in a mutually beneficial manner. While this project explores one iteration of this redistribution model, it can be applied across a variety of geographies, scales and contexts to provide a myriad of social benefits.
In collaboration with UNHCR and the ECC, Henriquez Partners Architects imagines GHETTO, a theoretical architectural project which proposes the resettlement of 1,000 refugees into Venice financed by the sale of timeshare condominiums for tourists from America. The inspiration for the project came from the site of the ECC exhibition in Palazzo Mora located in Cannaregio, home of the Jewish ghetto, and our desire to illustrate our studio’s credo that architecture has the potential to be a poetic expression of social justice.
In the effort to explore our responsibility as global citizens to care for one another and to explore financial mechanisms that redistribute equity to provide social benefits, GHETTO is a theoretical series of four architectural islands that demonstrates these intentions through an innovative economic model. Each of the islands is positioned near one of four compelling sites: The Venetian ghetto, Stazione di Santa Lucia, Piazza San Marco, and the Arsenale. These sites were carefully selected to parallel four key-influencing factors in Venice: the Jewish ghetto as project inspiration, the refugee crisis, Venetian over-tourism, and challenging the traditional role of the architect.