To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Andrea Palladio’s birth (1508-2008), La Malcontenta invited Zaha Hadid Architects to design and build two installations within Villa Foscari La Malcontenta, to initiate a dialogue between Contemporary Architects and Palladio breaching five centuries of architectural discourse.

For this exhibition, curated by architect Giulia Foscari, Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher explored the generative potential of the harmonic proportional system introduced by Palladio in Villa La Malcontenta.


AURA-L (Renderings)

Text by Curator: Giulia Foscari

Villa Foscari La Malcontenta

Andrea Palladio and Contemporary Architects: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher

The architecture of Andrea Palladio represents the built manifestation of Palladio’s utopia of synthesizing all humanistic values by establishing the exact role and relation of each part of his architectural compositions - from the organism as a perfect whole to each single room. The proportion of each room is in fact determined by a specific set of “harmonic“ relations that derive from the Euclidian mathematics practiced in the 16th Century.

Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher – when invited to initiate a dialogue between contemporary architects and Palladio in occasion of the 500th anniversary of Palladio’s birth – focused their study on one room, conscious that exploring the logic and relational system of a single room they would have addressed and captured the essence of Palladio’s architectural theory.

Villa Foscari La Malcontenta, a building designed by Palladio in 1555 for a site along the Brenta River, represents the ideal setting for this exploration as it was conceived and built by Palladio as a manifesto to demonstrate the perfection of his architectural theories to the Serenissima Republic of Venice.

The proportions of the rooms of the piano nobile of La Malcontenta thus constitute the starting point for Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher’s study. The frequency curves generated by the harmonic proportional system of the villa are progressively transformed, through mathematical algorithms, to define a genotypic elementary form that contains in its DNA the whole Palladian set of rules. As a result of this experimentation, multiple complex spatial environments are generated through lawful variations of Palladio’s classical proportions.

The natural equilibrium achieved by Andrea Palladio in La Malcontenta is thus shaken by the dynamic component introduced by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, who have long abandoned the Euclidian mathematics that generated Palladio’s proportional theories – that could only lead to the definition of one singular and “perfect” relational system – and explore the potentials of advanced digital techniques.

In such way, within one room of this architecture that stands on the Brenta River since five centuries – within the void of such room – “Aura” is generated as a spatial morphology that reflects the structure of this void, the skeleton of this ethereal space.

As a further demonstration of the generative potential of Palladio’s proportional system, a second installation was designed for the symmetrical room. “Aura L” and “Aura S” are thus presented as two “phenotypes” of the complex order generated by a contemporary translation of Palladio’s harmonic system.

AURA-S (Renderings)

Plan of the Villa and AURAs

Villa Foscari La Malcontenta

Collateral Event of the 11th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
Venue: Villa Foscari La Malcontenta
: La Malcontenta
Giulia Foscari, Architect
Exhibitors: Zaha Hadid  and Patrik Schumacher
Design Team:
Mariagrazia Lanza and Fulvio Wirz
Installation details: “AURA”: Ed. 1/1; (6x3x2.5)mt; Lacquered fiberglass with embedded steel frame
Manufacturing:I dee & Design GmbH, The Artfactory Lighting: Zumtobel Illuminazione s.r.l.

Opening dates
Private Opening: 10th September 2008 – evening
Preview: 12th September 2008 – 4.30 to 9.00 pm
Open: 14th September to 23rd November 2008
Opening Hours
Sat. & Sun. 9.00 to 18.00 - Tue. 9.00 to 12.00 - Tue. pm to Friday booking required - Mon. closed.

Andrea Palladio and Zaha Hadid Architects

1 of