French designer Pierre Cardin outlined his plan on Monday for a 255-metre tower called the Palais Lumiere that he wants to build in an industrial port area on the famous Venice lagoon.
"I want to offer Venice a big garden for eternity," the Italian-born Cardin told reporters in the city, where some locals are horrified by the project.
The 90-year-old, who arrived for a press conference in an electric car, said he wanted the project completed in time for the Milan Expo in 2015.
The 65-floor tower in Porto Marghera would rise on a 40-hectare lot occupied by warehouses which would first have to be cleaned of industrial chemicals.
The complex is made up of six giant discs held up by three towers of different heights and is referred to by its designers as a "vertical city".
It would house apartments as well as hotels, restaurants, research centres and sport installations on a total surface of 250,000 square metres.
The budget is estimated at between 1.5 billion and 2.0 billion euros ($A1.8 billion to $A2.4 billion).
"This project will give work to a minimum of 5000 workers," said Cardin, who has put his nephew, Rodrigo Basilicati, in charge of the project.
Cardin has opened an exhibition open to the public to outline the project in detail (www.palaislumiere.eu) and the show will run until November 25.
Asked why he had chosen Venice, Cardin said it was because of his Italian roots and added: "There is no space in Paris."
Cardin also defended himself against criticism from local conservationists saying that the tower "will not be visible from Venice".