Giovanna Mar: Alfa building (D), Ca' Foscari University
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Studio Architetti Mar

Giovanna Mar: Alfa building (D), Ca' Foscari University
By Francesco Pagliari -

The new section of Ca' Foscari University for the maths, natural sciences and physics faculty is in Venezia Mestre and has spaces for lectures, research, scientific administration, and tutorials created as part of a complex process of planning, designing, reviewing and, finally, building over an extended period.
The centrepiece of this campus is Alfa Building (D), a hugely symbolic construction and stand out feature not only for the university but the whole area. The architecture makes it the defining feature for this stretch of landscape spanning the mainland and lagoon near the old city of Venice. It is a complex structure, housing administrative and managerial functions, governing bodies - e.g. Dean's office and student representative bodies -, large halls for public gatherings, including a 300-seater auditorium, a multi-storey library, study areas and 24 classrooms.
At the heart of the design lies the juxtaposition of two buildings that creates a stark contrast and manifests daring choices. The south-facing structure rises 45 m across nine floors to a diagonal point and is characterised by a relatively closed composition. It is merges with the north-facing building that only rises seven storeys, but uses glazing and sunscreens to mark an otherwise regular-shaped construction.
It is the taller construction that makes Alfa Building so recognisable, both because of its height and shape, with trapezoidal elevations and ventilated walls clad in horizontal dark grey/black zinc-titanium panels organised in variously-sized bands spaced by dark ribbon windows. It truly is highly evident and identifiable. On the ground floor, the building is preceded by two small constructions with sloping walls clad in light-coloured zinc titanium panels, which are reflected in two small ponds. A roof with the same cladding connects the two small buildings, forming a corridor that leads to the entrance to Alfa Building. The actual entrance hall is a towering space used to house a range of services, including the welcome & info desk.The trapezoidal building houses the stairs and the lifts, located on the shorter sides, and acts as the access hub as well as providing rest and relaxation areas. The seven-floor glazed building houses the library (on four levels, with storage, reading and studying zones), a large, tall auditorium, classrooms on the upper floors, offices, meeting and conference rooms and the Dean's offices, which are on the seventh floor and extend onto a terrace.
Francesco Pagliari


Location: Venezia, Mestre
Client: Università Ca' Foscari Venezia
Completion: 2014
Gross Floor Area: 27.245 m2
Architects, Works Management: Studio Architetti Mar
Design Team: Anna Casaril, Francesca Cecchi, Camilla Marolla, Andrea Isolina Ferrara, Alessandro Trevisanello
Contractor: Aedinovis

Structural: Dario Gambarotto
Technical Systems: Manens-Tifs - Giorgio Finotti

Thermal and Acoustic Insulation: Rockwool
Plasterboards: Knauf
Aluminium False Ceiling: Armstrong
Titanium Zinc Cladding: Rheinzink
Wood Wool False Ceiling: Eraclit
Stone Flooring: Zanet    
Sunblinds: Metra    
Linoleum Interior Flooring: Linoleum Italia

Waterproofing: Mapei
Stone Coverings: Marmi Faedo
Doors and Windows Frames: Schüco
Titanium Zinc Cladding: VM ZINC    

Photography: © Paolo Monello


Studio Architetti Mar
Established by Gian Paolo Mar in 1961, Studio Architetti Mar Srl continues today under the direction of his daughter, Giovanna. The practice comprises some ten people, including staff and team members. Besides running the firm, Mar lectures part time at the Venice Università di Architettura (IUAV).
The firm has over 50 years’ experience in residential construction in both the public and private sectors. More recently, it has been responsible for urban design projects, a number of major tourist facilities and hotels, marinas, office and commercial buildings, as well as university facilities, such as Università Ca’ Foscari’s new mathematics, physical, and natural sciences department in Venice. It also specializes in airport facilities, planning and overseeing construction work for Treviso Airport.
Sustainability is one of Studio Mar’s key objectives and research commitments. Low environmental impact, energy efficiency, and the use of renewable energy sources – including but not limited to solar, wind, and geothermal – are always the objective at every stage of every project.
With a multidisciplinary approach that draws upon the resources of other specialized firms, the practice and its team of skilled architects looks after every phase of projects, from planning through to standards compliance, not only acting as architectural designer but also coordinating the work of other professionals and providing clients with a single point of contact.

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