Punta della Dogana

Top choice gallery in Dorsoduro

Image by Pauline Lewis Getty Images

Fortuna, the weathervane atop Punta della Dogana, swung Venice’s way in 2005, when bureaucratic hassles in Paris convinced art collector François Pinault to showcase his works in Venice's long-abandoned customs warehouses. Built by Giuseppe Benoni in 1677 to ensure no ship entered the Grand Canal without paying duties, the warehouses reopened in 2009 after a striking reinvention by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The space now hosts exhibitions of ambitious, large-scale artworks from some of the world's most provocative creative minds.

The building itself is an intriguing work. Inside, the Japanese architect stripped back centuries of alterations and additions, returning the interior to its pure form of red brick and wooden beams. Within this pared-back space, Ando added his own contemporary vision, cutting windows in Benoni's ancient water gates to reveal cutaway views of passing ships, adding floating concrete staircases in honour of innovative Venetian modernist Carlo Scarpa, and erecting his own trademark polished concrete panels.The end result is a conscious and dramatic juxtaposition of the old and the new, one that simultaneously pays due regard to the city’s seafaring history and its changing architecture.