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Aura - Villa Malcontenta

  • Venice, Italy
  • 12/09/2008 – 23/11/2008
  • Fondazione La Malcontenta
  • 6x3x2.45m Materials Core material: PU-Foam RG100 and Polystyrene EPS 20 milled parts Coated with: PU-SB1

The Aura installation for the 2008 Venice Biennale represents a dialogue between the fluid contemporary language of the Zaha Hadid studio and the mathematical principles of harmonious architectural composition of Andrea Palladio, on the 500th anniversary of his birth. The work focuses on the piano nobile of Palladio’s Villa Foscari La Malcontenta, which encapsulates his theory of perfect form. Accordingly, the proportions of the sequence of spaces provided the starting point for Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher’s study.

The frequency curves generated by the harmonic proportional system of the villa were progressively transformed, through mathematical algorithms, to define an elementary form that contains in its DNA the full set of Palladian rules. As a result of this experimentation, multiple complex spatial environments were generated based on lawful variations of Palladio’s classical proportions. The natural equilibrium Palladio achieved in the design of La Malcontenta is thus shaken by a dynamic component introduced and made possible by advanced digital design technologies.

With a mathematical integrity rooted in Palladian algorithms, the graceful curves of Aura reflect the structure of this ethereal space in a contemporary formal language and materials. Demonstrating the generative potential of Palladio’s proportional system, a second installation was developed for the adjacent symmetrical room. The two installations – Aura L and Aura S – were presented together, both generated by a contemporary translation of Palladio’s harmonic system – at five centuries’ remove.


Zaha Hadid Architects


Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Design Team

Fulvio Wirz and Mariagrazia Lanza


Giulia Foscari W.R.


Zumtobel Illuminazione s.r.l.


Idee&Design GmbH, The Art Factory