This is not a story about Venice!
Venice is drowning. The Belgian writer Guido Eekhaut wrote a beautiful book about it (Eternal Venice). In the book an historian hurries through the cellars of the Venetian houses to find manuscripts that will remember the city. He sees the fleeing people and hears the collapsing houses. At the end of the book when most of Venice has "melted into the see", the following scene takes place; for one evening the Venetians return! In a macabre but intense farewell party they once again celebrate the almost vanished city...
Venice is sinking about 3 mm per year, because of the weak foundations and the water level rises another 6 mm. This means that the water level will have risen almost a meter at the end of this century. The Venetians are leaving. They sell their houses to the wealthy people who use the houses to spend their three-week holidays there. The average age of the remaining inhabitants is now 50 years old.
What are the alternatives? There are three ways to go: "Let her sink!" Or, to put it in the words of Jimi Hendrix: "Castles made of sand will melt into the see eventually... " It is the scenario that is described in the book by Guido Eekhaut and it has a tragic beauty to it. Send in the Photographers to capture the last of her moments and let her pass away quietly...
The second alternative is to construct a ring of floodgates that prevent the high waters to reach Venice. There are plans for this construction. It is Called MoSE. Seventy or so floodgates defend the city against the water. The proposal sounds logical but the gates will have to be closed permanently in fifty years time, because of the risen waterlevel. That will mean that the Lagune which is depending on the connection to open waters for her health will die... The city will then become an Italo Disney, no inhabitants, just tourist making pictures of an old lady in coma.
Our proposal is to try to convince the city that it should not depend on a ring of floodgates to survive, but to actively deal with the water! Reinforce foundations, let the water come and start to live one floor higher. It has been done before! The city will partly renew itself, some of the beautiful old buildings of Venice will have to go. The strict and stubborn preservation of all the precious material of which Venice is made up will cause its death. This third alternative proposes to construct a giant BRACE for Venice that will save the majority of the buildings. This Brace will be new fabric that will be added to the old city with many new opportunities. It will mean a lot of work! Many people will be needed to give birth to this hopeful daughter! The Brace will respect the grand old lady; structures will remain as they are now, cars will never be admitted, and spatially the city will not change. It will still be Venice! It will become the city of the new young workers, replacing the old pensioners and holiday-makers.
An important part of the proposal is the banning of the fast Italian Motorboats. They disturb the water in the Laguna and cause air to reach the wooden foundations, causing them to rot away. These motorboats that symbolize the Italian temperament so well will be replaced by lagoon-friendly Zeppelins! They will dock on top of the new brace buildings and they will transport the Venetians that have fled the city back to their young old city! Furthermore we will cancel the taxes that the city charges singing Gondoliers; if the sound of the motorboats fades away, we will need Italian songs
The city must realize that it has to give up a part of the past to gain a future. If all the buildings in the city are sacred, than there will be no future but a tragically beautiful death... which is a reasonable alternative, but it is not as exciting as the Brace!
If this story is not about Venice, then what is it about? It is about our western civilization. And the question is; In which of the three scenarios do WE find ourselves?