Engineering Rome

The Venetian Lagoon

Author: Sean MacDonald

I. Introduction

The goal of this page is to discover the depth of the Venice system, by realizing how one of the most rich ecosystems in the world is now tightly interwoven with over a thousand years of mankind’s engineering. Venice is a World Heritage Site, it is a phenomenal feat of mankind and one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world where romantics and families alike contribute to the some 20 million that visit each year. However, Venice has a much deeper meaning to the environmentalists, politicians, and engineers who are invested in the well-being and longevity of the region. The city is subjected to damage from daily interaction with the tides, and because of the earths changing climate Venice will become increasingly more vulnerable to a devastating storm. The lesser known interest in Venice is the plethora of unique biodiversity that makes up the largest wetland in the Mediterranean(SOURCE: MOSE website). Human intervention in the lagoon has caused the ecosystem to be forever transformed, and the survival of the city comes at the cost of damaging the lagoon. Thus, the fate of the historic city and the ecosystem have been intertwined, and to preserve both against the changing environment of the world is a challenge that will be faced until the day Venice ‍‍‍‍‍dies‍‍‍‍‍.

II. Background Information

The Allure of Venice

To thoroughly understand the dilemmas of today, one must first understand the origins of the region. Venice began when peasants sought safety from barbarians, and the lagoon provided a defense that enabled them to survive. The Venetians were able to utilize the lagoon to fish, transport food, and rid of waste all while being protected. The benefits of the lagoon allowed the area to thrive, and eventually became an incredible naval and commercial force. As can be seen with the map below, the unique setting with access to rivers inland and the Adriatic Sea contributed to the successful economic and valuable history of Venice.