Workshop in Venice | 1st semester | Winter Semester 2023/24

IMIAD workshop in the Pavilion of the Republic of San Marino at the Architecture Biennale 2023:
Conversion concepts for the "Piscina Gandini" swimming pool

Under the theme "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 self-imposed themes.

After the HFT was already involved in three projects in this year's summer semester, students of the 1st semester in the Master Interior Architecture 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 in Venice from October 16-21, 2023.

The group included 17 students from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences 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, to Prof. Francesca Salatin (IUAV), to Prof. Ralf Petersen (HFT Architecture / Climate Engineering) and to 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 in Stuttgart for the workshop:
they analyzed the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the "Piscina Gandini" located on it;
they researched a wide variety of realized indoor swimming pool conversions and derived various principles and typologies of conversion from them;
they visited the municipal swimming pool in Ludwigsburg, which had been converted into a canteen;
they built a model of the "Piscina Gandini" and
each student developed a short draft.


Development of five conversion concepts for the swimming pool

The results were summarized on plans and transported to Venice with the model. There, a tour of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Vatican chapels there, as well as the swimming pool, was conducted. Afterwards, the short drafts were discussed together with Prof. Riccardo Varini with regard to the impressions gained on site. The students formed groups in order to further elaborate and sketch five conversion concepts in the following days:


The Piscina Gandini acts as a new extension of the Cini Foundation. Class­rooms. studios, and study spaces are housed within two volumes that appear to float above the pool floor on a wooden frame. The joinery of the frame itself is as intentional as the existing structure, lashing together wooden beams in a consistent pattern. Emphasis is placed on the volumes being an unobtrusive introduction into the pool using contextual references to inform geometry and light, translucent construction.

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


Music is bringing people together.
Senses of music is a swimming pool conversion that is inclusive and carefully designed around the needs of deaf people. But not only that: It‘s a music hall where you can experience music with every sense.
The translucent dancefloor in the former pool area ist constructed with mem­branes that enhance the vibrating effect beats have.
The focal point is a big jelly cushion in the middle of the old pool that will trans­mit vibrations and beats. It shifts the focus to the visitors that are excluded in regular music halls and brings them to the center of the space.

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


The old swimming pool is converted into an interactive, playful exhibition for children on the topic of venetian mobility. With the help of five bridges, each dealing with a different topic concerning the unconventional ways of mobility in Venice, children, but also adults, get the chance to learn more about the daily routines of the local inhabitants.

Pauline Kindermann - Joy Weiss - Andreea Ghit - Annkathrin Böhm


The light filled Piscina itself evokes an almost sacral feeling, which is further enhanced by metaphorically returning the calming element of water to the space. Light textiles are loosely draped over a landscape of steel pipe domes, allowing them to billow softly in the breeze traversing the building through the opened window facades. An intertwining pathway of ramps invites the visitors to meander through the installation and watch the calming movement of the textile waves. When descending the ramps, the visitors are immersed in a sound muffling cocoon of fabric, drowning out the stimuli of the world above the surface, similar to the way diving into water would.

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


Venice was built on pilings in the lagoon. Water has always been the lifeblood of the city. Our exhibition is centered around its relationship with water. Visti­tors explore the advantages and challenges of water. After an informative boat ride from St. Marco, various water-related aspects are presented in the old swimming pool. The boat tour continues to the location of the „MOSE“ project. The aim is to prompt reflection among visitors and encourage them to engage in an extensive dialogue 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