The islands of the Venice lagoon, composed of embankments and alluvial materials, did not allow traditional construction because the wet and unstable soil could not support the weight of the buildings. The solution has been the use of piles, allowing construction over water. The technique consists in driving them into the ground in order to make them carry a platform made of oak and larch planks firmly attached to each other, consolidating and leveling the ground. For example, in order to erect the Basilica Santa Maria della salute, the Venetians used 1,006,657 stilts 4 meters long, made of oak, alder and larch.
The constraints of building on the water with pilings as foundations make the palaces are designed contrary to the traditional rules of architecture. Indeed, if in the palaces of the earth, it is customary to begin with the foundations on which the infrastructure to support the weight of the architectural ensemble is laid, in Venice the method is totally reversed: first a large "box" on gantries to transmit the load directly to the piles of the foundations by a system of arches and vaults appropriate. © Photo of Emmanuel Buchot
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