Heritage Italy

Venice’s Accademia Bridge to be redesigned

The city council aims to provide access for the disabled—but refuses to contribute to the €5m cost

Accademia Bridge

Venice. The city council has announced plans to redesign the Accademia Bridge, next to the eponymous art gallery, to provide access for the disabled. But architects and construction firms bidding to undertake the project will also have to prove they can raise the sponsorship to finance the work; the council will not make any contribution to the estimated €5m costs.

Restoration of several other historic monuments through the use of sponsorship has already divided opinion, with the sight of the Ducal Palace and the Bridge of Sighs covered in hoardings, advertising the sponsors, causing dismay.

“The advertisements in Piazza San Marco are horrible and must reflect badly on the sponsors too,” said Michela Scibilia, a graphic designer who is a member of 40xVenezia, a platform for residents to express their views on urban projects.

Funding for such a project should come from the Special Laws, said Ms Scibilia. Introduced in 1997, the Special Laws promised an annual budget of €45m to fund a cycle of crucial urban renovations until 2030. Since 2003, however, the figure has been shrinking; last year just €28.5m was made available. Mara Rumiz, the assessor for public works, said the lack of public funds made it impossible to design the new bridge without recourse to private sponsorship. “We hope that companies will realise that it will benefit their image most if they keep their presence to a minimum while gaining a reputation for being responsible for the new Accademia Bridge,” she said.

The bid to provide disabled access across Venice was one of a host of problems that dogged the construction of Constitution Bridge. Commissioned in 2002 and designed by Santiago Calatrava, the bridge finally opened in September 2008, heavily over budget. But Ms Rumiz said that the Accademia project is “much simpler” and should avoid the problems encountered by Calatrava’s structure.

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