Filippo Caprioglio: Casin of Palazzo Lezze

Behind an old wall overlooking a Venetian canal hides an interior lined floor to ceiling with books. Text: Filippo Caprioglio. Photos: Paolo Monello

The building is in Venice, in the Cannaregio district, on the first floor of the Palazzo Lezze complex. This part is called the palazzo casin : it is attributed to Baldassare Longhena, and refers to the section of the building which overlooks the Rio della Sensa and which used to delimit the palazzo garden behind. This garden was modified with the addition of a small block which we had been asked to design.

A casin in Venetian is somewhere between a portico and a store house linked to a palazzo. Longhena's facade acts as an entrance to the palazzo from the water and so we decided to use this feature as the starting point for a radical transformation.

You reach the door to the water by way of a new set of steps made from blocks of Istrian stone: these connect with the pre-existing steps and allow access to the lower part of the canalside. This design was necessary since the interior floor level had been raised, but it let us keep the large wooden gate onto the water open. This was a solution in keeping with the features and style of the original, one which also allows light to pass inside the building.

From the entrance, you pass through a "cube" of glass to the house: this box increases the interior lighting, which is otherwise poor, partly by reflection. The ground floor is a single open space housing the living-room, kitchen – reached through a large glass pivot door – and a bathroom, which is out of sight. The staircase is built from white varnished steel and glass: it runs between the living areas, though without breaking the continuity between them, and leads to the mezzanine above. This metalwork floor is supported by a series of new, very light pillars: it does not come into contact with the original brickwork of the building, and gives a view towards the canal and the garden.

Handmade bookshelves housing almost 10,000 volumes, flanked by steel and glass walkways, run around the walls of the double height space of the living area. The walls have been coated with smooth whitewash, helping to diffuse light, whether natural or artificial. A restricted number of materials was used, but these, like the Istrian stone and Euganean trachyte, combined with steel and glass, are part of Venetian tradition.
Filippo Caprioglio

Conversion of the Casin at Palazzo Lezze
Architect: Filippo Caprioglio, Caprioglio Associati Studio di Architettura
Design team: Francesco Soldo


Site plan
Site plan
Ground floor plan
Ground floor plan
First floor plan
First floor plan
Elevation
Elevation
Section A-A
Section A-A
Section B-B
Section B-B
Section C-c
Section C-c
Section D-D
Section D-D

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