IMIAD degree programme with workshop at the 2023 Architecture Biennale in Venice

Workshop and exhibition with reutilisation concepts for the "Piscina Gandini" swimming pool in the Pavilion of the Republic of San Marino

Under the title "Ospite Ospitante", the Republic of San Marino invites students from all over the world to work and exhibit in its pavilion at Campo San Lorenzo on topics of their own choosing.

After the HFT Stuttgart was already involved in three projects in this year's summer semester, students of the 1st semester in the International Master of Interior-Architectural Design now started the winter semester 2023/24 by developing various conversion concepts for "Piscina Gandini" - the first indoor swimming pool in Venice, located on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, which has been closed for years. The existing structure was to remain largely untouched and all interventions were to be as minimally invasive and reversible as possible. The workshop took place from 16-21 October 2023 in Venice.

The group included 17 students from the HFT Stuttgart and 5 exchange students from our IMIAD partner University of Cincinnati.

The excursion was supervised by Prof. Diane Ziegler and academic associate Dipl.-Des. Melissa Acker.

We would like to express our sincere thanks for the invitation and this wonderful and productive week with guest critics to: the Giorgio Cini Foundation, Prof. Francesca Salatin (IUAV), Prof. Ralf Petersen (HFT Stuttgart, Architecture / ClimateEngineering) and Prof. Riccardo Varini (UNIRSM).

We would also like to thank the Knödler-Decker Foundation for their kind support of the project.

Preparations for the workshop

At the beginning of the semester, the students carried out some preparations for the workshop in Stuttgart:
they analysed the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the "Piscina Gandini" located on it;
they researched various already implemented indoor pool conversions and derived different principles and typologies of conversion from this;
they visited the city pool in Ludwigsburg, which had been converted into a canteen;
they built a model of the "Piscina Gandini" and each of them created a short design.

Development of five conversion concepts for the swimming pool

The results were summarised on plans and transported with the model to Venice, where an inspection of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Vatican chapels there, as well as the swimming pool, took place. The short designs were then discussed with Prof. Riccardo Varini in light of the impressions gained on site. The students formed groups to further develop and outline five conversion concepts over the following days:


The Piscina Gandini as an extension of the Cini Foundation. Classrooms, studios and study rooms are housed in two volumes that appear to float on a wooden frame above the pool floor. The frame construction is as intentional as the existing structure, joining the wooden beams together in a consistent pattern. The focus is on unobtrusively integrating the volumes into the pool, with contextual references shaping the geometry and the light, translucent construction.

Annika Ramge - Anna Dolderer - Seo Yeon Kim - Jakob Guay - Sadie Beck


Music brings people together.

Senses of Music is an inclusive swimming pool that is carefully tailored to the needs of deaf people. But that's not all: it's a music hall where you can experience music with all your senses. The translucent dance floor in the former swimming pool area is equipped with membranes that amplify the vibrations of the music. The focal point is a large gel cushion in the center of the pool that transmits vibrations and sounds. It shifts the focus to the visitors, who are excluded in normal music halls, and brings them into the center of the action.

Mary Therese Conway - Afra Gölzer - Janina Lamm - Leyla Minks - Luise Störkel


The old swimming pool is transformed into an interactive, playful exhibition for children on the subject of Venetian mobility. Five bridges, each dealing with a different theme of unconventional mobility in Venice, will give children and adults alike the opportunity to learn more about the everyday life of the locals.

Pauline Kindermann - Joy Weiss - Andreea Ghit - Annkathrin Böhm


The light-flooded piscina itself evokes an almost sacred feeling, which is reinforced by the metaphorical return of the calming element of water to the space. Lightweight textiles are loosely draped over a landscape of tubular steel domes, allowing them to ripple gently in the breeze that passes through the building's open window facades. An intertwined path of ramps invites visitors to meander through the installation and observe the calming movement of the textile waves. As visitors descend the ramps, they are immersed in a sound-dampening fabric cocoon that drowns out the stimuli of the world above the surface, similar to immersion in water.

Lena Brandt - Amira Klimpel - Katharina Mayer - Cooper Kadish - Selina Meinert


Venice was built on stilts in the lagoon. Water has always been the city's elixir of life. The exhibition revolves around its relationship with water. Visitors explore the associated benefits and challenges. After an informative boat trip from San Marco, various aspects of water are presented in the swimming pool. The boat tour continues to the site of the "MOSE" project. The aim is to encourage visitors to reflect and engage in a comprehensive dialog about the preservation and future of this unique city.

Lena Kupferschmid - Kirsten Schäfer

Presentation & Exhibition

The presentation at the end of the workshop was also the opening of the exhibition, although the pavilion was open to the public for the entire week of the workshop.

Participating students:

Sadie Beck, Annkathrin Böhm, Lena Brandt, Mary Therese Conway, Anna Dolderer, Andreea Ghiț, Afra Gölzer, Jakob Guay, Cooper Kadish, Seo Yeon Kim, Pauline Kindermann, Amira Klimpel, Lena Kupferschmid, Janina Lamm, Lilli Lange, Katharina Mayer, Selina Meinert, Leyla Minks, Annika Ramge, Kirsten Schäfer, Luise Störkel, Joy Weiss

Publish date: 10. November 2023