When I fly over Venice it looks like a single island. But it is actually made up of 118 small islands. The Islands are separated by about 150 canals and connected by more than 400 bridges. When Venice was built, the first phase of the construction was the creation of a dry area on which to build foundations. This had to be achieved while dealing with the ever-present factors of salt water lapping at the walls, foundations built on muddy sand, and long-term salt corrosion.
How was Venice built?:
Originally Venice was built by framing an area the desired dimensions with two rows of wooden beams. These were spaced approximately 75 cm apart. A wall would be created by filling the gap between the beams with mud. This allowed the builders to then drain the water from the center of the frame.
Once dry, would be sunk down into the mud until they hit hard ground. The tree trunks were packed tightly together. Once the framed spaced had been filled with trunks the heads of the trees were then leveled and and gaps filled with stone, rock, broken tile and other coarse material mixed with cement. In order to create an even more solid base, planks of larch and elm wood were laid on top. In this way the foundations lasted centuries.
The Effects of Rising Water Levels on Buildings in Venice:
In 2018 more than 70% of Venice was inundated as water levels rose over five feet above usual levels. In addition to heavy rain, sea water was also pushed into the city by a powerful storm. This was exacerbated by high tides. As a consequence the famous tile floor in Saint Mark’s Cathedral was damaged as the basilica flooded for just the fifth time in nine centuries.
Since 1897 the average water height in Venice has increased 23 cm. According to Weather Underground, 40% of that is attributable to worldwide sea-level rise from melting polar ice. UNESCO has expressed concerns about Venice as a World Heritage site. It is predicted that the Mediterranean Sea will rise 140 cm before 2100 which will cause Venice to flood.
The increase in flooding in Venice is due to the combined effects of land subsidence causing the city to sink, and climate change causing the global sea level to rise. Whenever water breaks through the stone damp-courses that protect most Venetian buildings, it seeps into the porous brickwork. All over Venice, walls are dissolving. Foundations are being scoured out by quick-flowing tides and the effects of wakes from large cruise ships. Is Venice to be the next lost Atlantis?
My etches are my way of celebrating what is still present.