Ca’ Foscari: The Place Where Art, Architecture And Education Meet

Ca’ Foscari is of high importance to me personally. Not only it was my gateway to living in Venice, but it has taught me art, philosophy, and management. For those reasons, I am in eternal debt to this brilliant institution.

Founded on the 6th of August 1868, as the “Scuola Superiore di Commercio” (Advanced School for Commerce), it was the first Italian institution to deal with advanced education in Business and Economics.

It is located in the palace of the Foscari family, a Gothic building on the waterfront of the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro sestiere. The building itself was built for the doge Francesco Foscari in 1453 and designed by the architect Bartolomeo Bon. 

The Portal

One of the most important pieces in the building is right at the entrance, and that is the portal. Made of Istrian stone, it has a rectangular shape in the lower part and an arched lunette inflected in the upper part. The Foscari coat of arms is inside the lunette.

The portal was recently restored, in 2008 to be precise, by some recent graduates of the course of Sciences and Technologies of Restoration, coordinated by Professor Biscontin.

The Building

The Casa delle due Torri, where the university building is currently located, was a Byzantine-style classical monument that was known in the city for its position “facing the Canal” and for the two side towers that gave it a very unique appearance. It was demolished to make way for the house of the Foscari family.

The construction of Ca’ Foscari began in 1453. As mentioned before, the building is attributed to Bartolomeo Bon, famous architect who also created the Porta della Carta in the Palazzo Ducale.

Compared to the Casa delle due Torri, substantial modifications were made, including the addition of a second piano nobile; the main courtyard was enlarged, which is now actually the largest belonging to a private house with 940 squared meters, being only smaller to the one in the Palazzo Ducale.

During the fall of the Republic of Venice, when the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Habsburg Austria invaded the city, Ca’ Foscari took a hit.

Until today, the cannonballs used to attack the city are still stuck to the walls of the courtyard, both on the main building and on the staircase.

The Entrance Hall

The entrance hall of the building was reformed by Carlo Scarpa in 1936 when he designed the new glass wall entrance similar to the great hall on the second floor, the benched with the typical t-shape pattern, the handrail of the nineteenth-century stairway, as well as the lamps.

Mario Baratto Hall

On the second floor, you will find the Mario Baratto Hall, named after a famous professor of Italian literature and antifascist. Nowadays the hall is used for conferences, conventions, formal ceremonies, advanced training courses and important events of Ca’ Foscari University.

A great portal introduces the hall, with the Latin phrase “Studia Decus Ornamentumque Vitae” inscribed onto it, which stands for “study honors and equips life”. Several interventions have been also done here by Carlo Scarpa, such as the window, the boiserie, and the footboard.

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Eli Nogueira

Eli Nogueira is a Brazilian Digital Marketing Analyst currently living in Germany. View all posts by Eli Nogueira

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