San Giobbe, conversion of a vernacular house in Calle delle Beccarie for public housing


About the project

Venice is made up not just of architectural masterpieces, but of thousands of anonymous and ancient buildings that are the city’s housing stock.
To show that such a vernacular house can be made habitable to modern standards at relatively low cost, while keeping its historic features and avoiding the use of inappropriate materials, Venice in Peril worked with the Italian government and the city of Venice authorities on an exemplary conversion of a publicly owned house in the parish of San Giobbe.
The Fund paid for the detailed planning while the Municipality financed the actual restoration work through the Special Law for Venice. A team of architects, some from Venice’s architectural university, IUAV, recorded the project in detail and the book, ‘Un Restauro per Venezia’, was published in 2006, offering the project as a model.
The aim was to show that a restoration drawing on close study of the building, conserving original elements and using traditional materials and techniques, need not cost more than a commercial, more destructive restructuring. Wherever possible the original terrazzo floors were retained, with the lime mortar allowing the flexibility and movement needed in Venice, unlike the developers’ choice of concrete flooring. The window frames and doors were retained and lime plaster was used for walls throughout. To counter rising damp corrosive salts were washed from the original brickwork, rather than introducing new bricks.

How to find it

In brief

  • A project designed as a model to explore how historic vernacular buildings can be made fit for modern living, whilst preserving their historic fabric.
  • Undertaken in partnership with the Venice City Council, the Architecture University IUAV and the architects Leo Schubert and Mario Piana.
  • The house was divided into flats for public housing using funds from the Special Law for Venice.
  • A book detailing the scheme and philosophy behind the project was later published as ‘Un restauro per Venezia’ (in Italian), 2006. To buy 

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