OMA has just revealed plans for the restoration of Fondaco Dei Tedeschi’s landmark building in Venice, Italy. The incredible structure is an iconic piece of architecture held in high esteem for not only Venetians, but for Italy as a whole. Settled right along the Grand Canal, the structure was first built in 1228 and has become a central point for both culture and commerce. After undergoing a number of dramatic changes, the building has recently fallen to disuse and is now completely inaccessible to the public. Commissioned by the Benneton family, who owns the building, OMA has designed an incredible new program for the structure that focuses on reactivating the building as a vibrant new cultural center for the famed city.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi, office for metropolitan architecture, OMA, Venice, Italy, Historic preservation, historic renovation

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi was first constructed in 1228 as a trading post for German merchants and was later turned into a customs house under Napoleon in 1806. OMA’s new plan for the structure will create a contemporary trading post in the form of a culturally-programmed department store complete with a cinema and other social activities.

To accommodate the building’s new uses, its towers have been removed, the courtyard will be covered with glass, supporting structures will be rebuilt, façades will be restored, and new windows will be added, among many other alterations. However, throughout the renovation the profile of the building and crucial historic elements like the corner rooms will remain intact. Other significant aspects of the building, which have fallen victim to the wear of time, will also be restored, and the walls of the gallerias will be turned into new surfaces for contemporary frescoes. The rooftop, together with the courtyard below, will become a public venue for events including exhibitions and film screenings, and a year-round public program will be created for the enjoyment of both locals and tourists.

The new Fondaco dei Tedeschi aims to reestablish the historic Venetian connection between culture and commerce.