Posts tagged with "Venice Architecture Biennale":

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Vittorio Gregotti’s death marked the end of an era

Vittorio Gregotti’s passing on the 15th of March truly marks the end of an era. Gregotti is considered by many to be an outstanding figure whose career profoundly transformed the architectural practice in Italy and beyond. Known for his stern commitment to modernism, Gregotti decried the profession’s downward slide into frivolity. The mantra “form follows function” had lost, according to Gregotti, all utility: The market became for all practical purposes the substitute for function. This would lead to the corruption of the design process itself, bringing Gregotti to famously declare in 2008 that the time had come for “the end of design.” Nonetheless, in his own practice, Gregotti remained true to his beliefs, succeeding in culling major architectural and urban design commissions throughout Europe and Asia. Vittorio Gregotti’s reputation reached well beyond architecture—he was also a respected art theorist, editor, curator, and teacher. Gregotti’s interests led him on an intellectual trajectory that presents some contradictions however, at least to the extent that his convictions on architecture didn’t necessarily line up with his broader view on art culture. Gregotti, I would argue, benefited from his close contacts with two intellectual juggernauts of his day, Umberto Eco and Manfredo Tafuri. The first, a noted philosopher, semiologist, and writer, the latter the Marxist architectural historian and theorist. Umberto Eco’s influence on Gregotti in the mid-sixties helped shape the architect’s view on art theory, design, and communications. Manfredo Tafuri, in his assessment of Gregotti a decade later, attempted to expurgate these earlier mediatic dalliances in order to cement Gregotti’s position as one of the forerunners of a rigorous urban scale architectural practice. From my perspective, the 1964 Milan Triennale Tempo Libero (Free Time), co-curated by Vittorio Gregotti and Umberto Eco represents a turning point in the history of experimental exhibitions, one of the rare joint endeavors between an architect and a philosopher. This odd pairing shares similarities with another strikingly revolutionary exhibition organized in the mid-eighties at the Pompidou Center in Paris, when Jean-Francois Lyotard and Thiery Chaput co-curated Les Immatériaux. To create this exhibition at the Triennale, Gregotti and Eco plumbed a brilliant network of artists, philosophers, writers, and theorists who loosely belonged to Gruppo 63. Libero Tempo explored the city and the countryside, green spaces, sport and spectacles, and presented prototypes for domestic and leisure products. The design for the exhibition formed a procession of galleries, and spread into large muraled rooms and led into a spectacular kaleidoscopic volume—a darkened trapezoidal space featuring a multitude of reflected projections. In this hall of prisms, a singular filmmaker, Tinto Brass, then a young upstart recently back from Paris and deeply impressed by the French nouvelle vague cinema, created two short films on Tempo Libero and Tempo del lavoro. The exhibition installed audio works, including musical performances in homage to James Joyce, composed by Luciano Berio. Joyce remained a key figure in Eco’s open work universe. Clearly Gregotti absorbed Eco’s critical understanding of how communications and the mass media were transforming society, along with the importance of bridging the sciences and the arts to better glimpse the future. Gregotti’s fluency with the vast creative world outside architecture, surely bolstered his role when he became president of the Venice Biennale in the mid-seventies. This open-mindedness doesn’t come across much in Gregotti’s curriculum, however. This probably has a lot to do with Manfredo Tafuri, who authored Vittorio Gregotti: Progetti e architetture for the Electa series on contemporary architecture in 1982. Tafuri’s introductory essay “Le avventure dell’oggetto: architetture di Vittorio Gregotti,” (roughly translated as “The adventures of the object: architectures of Vittorio Gregotti” ) went a long way to readdress the contradictions inherent in Gregotti’s practice. First, Tafuri sought to undercut the story of the 1964 Triennale, no doubt because of his general antipathy for Umberto Eco. One should by experience be cautious when translating Tafuri into English, but if I can take a venture, Tafuri literally calls out Eco’s Open Work text before launching into a particularly scathing assessment of the exhibition: “The public therefore bombarded and violated. The sadism that dribbles out…” Tafuri goes on to qualify his view: “At the triennial of 64 the work of the architects, of the semiologists, of the visual operators attempted an inter-coda operation in an attempt to dominate and possess in its entirety the mechanism of technological broadcasters, to build a language of plurality and ephemerality, to operate a multiversum without information centers.” Tafuri here is making a clean sweep of Gregotti’s involvement in this exhibition, considering it a failed attempt to properly harness the protocols of communication. But Tafuri then rescues Gregotti, by demonstrating that when the architect joins with Franco Purini in Palermo in 1970, he becomes transformed, moving ideologically towards anti-utopianism while simultaneously rejecting the facile seductions of the megastructure. Tafuri further declares that Gregotti moved empirically towards an introspective architecture about architecture and territory. Returning to the mysterious essay title concerning Gregotti’s practice, Tafuri states: “From the fetish of the object to the crisis of the object, therefore: the Gregottian arc of research recounts the stages in the historically marked process, experimenting with diverse formal organizations…” I am not suggesting that Gregotti was in any way naïve about how others might have shaped his past. There is no question in my mind that Gregotti welcomed Tafuri’s critical reinterpretation, including the strategic distancing of his contribution to the making of the 1964 Triennale. This shift in tendencies is apparent when Umberto Eco and Vittorio Gregotti meet amicably on the pages of Lotus in 2008; when the two now older and wiser men bring up the discussion on the end of design. While Eco deftly kills the idea of form follows function once and for all, Gregotti falls back on the sanctity of the decorative arts, explaining that design had succumbed to a false aesthetic premise to begin with. This time there was no real meeting of minds, merely a retrenchment on Gregotti’s part. Nonetheless, this does not dismiss the importance of their collaboration back in 1964, and the incredible vision that Eco and Gregotti succeeded in communicating. Would we all have such contradictions in our closets.
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Get excited about AMERICAN FRAMING, the 2020 U.S. Pavilion in Venice

American wood framing is an “art” and “a weird cul-de-sac of architecture” that has been “overlooked by historical and contemporary discourse.” according to Paul Preissner, cocurator of AMERICAN FRAMING, the 2020 U.S. Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Preissner, along with frequent collaborator and fellow traveler in the ways of wood, Paul Andersen, will present an exhibition that traces the history of wood-framed construction, a uniquely American architecture that was developed in the United States but has not spread much beyond its borders. AMERICAN FRAMING will present the ubiquitous construction system of wood framing, the most common in the U.S. and “one of the country’s most important contributions to building practice,” possibly even more important than steel, the curators argue. Wood framing was developed as a folk body of knowledge by westward German and Scandinavian settlers moving through the Midwest in the early 19th century, taking techniques of timber construction and half-timbering and remaking them in the image of a proto-industrial, cheap and efficient system. The advent of dimensional lumber (1814) and mass-produced nails allowed small teams of unskilled labor to construct stable buildings and innovate with the standardized system over time, with wood framing remaining as a whole a loose, nebulous system open to interpretation and experimentation. The UIC School of Architecture commissioned the pavilion, and director of the Robert Somol said, “As in other work conducted in the School, the UIC proposal for the U.S. Pavilion intensifies and deviates a standard element or system as a means to remake the world in a surprising yet plausible way.” It is no accident that this project is coming from UIC, as a pop sensibility pervades the framework of the show. According to the curators, many Americans grew up in wood-framed houses, making it a system used across classes, from small bungalows to McMansions, and “across formal classes,” from Spanish Colonial homes to Cape Cod. “We wanted to work with a particularly American theme and open up new possibilities for design. It seems fitting to both look back at the history of wood framing and speculate on how buildings might be different if we restrain or exaggerate the system itself,” Andersen said in a statement. Because wood framing is the stereotypical American construction type, it should titillate the global audience roaming il Giardini. The exhibition will depart from past U.S. pavilions by centering architecture, not architects. Rather than a roundup of what others are doing, the 2020 iteration will dive deep into a topic about building. The exhibition will feature a monumental installation completing the neoclassical pavilion’s geometry in plan by closing in the forecourt in front of the main entrance. Inside, commissioned photographs, site-responsive furniture, and models made by UIC students will tell the story of this rich building tradition. Photographer and UIC alumnus Daniel Shea has been commissioned to develop a series of photographs that document a range of common wood-framed buildings and construction sites, while photographer Chris Strong, in collaboration with Linda Robbennolt, will create a photographic series focused on various people who work and live within framed construction. Taking cues from Greg Lynn and Hani Rashid’s 2000 U.S. Pavilion, which gave students from Columbia and UCLA the opportunity to take part in the Biennale, the Pauls have enlisted two seminars of UIC students to design and build models of key historical wood-framed buildings, as well as speculative models experimenting with the forms and logics of the system. “As Paul and I were both part of the 2000 U.S. Pavilion as students at our respective universities,” Preissner said, “we are happy to be able to share this same opportunity with current UIC students, and proud to show their work to the world.” UIC students will also work alongside faculty including Ania Jaworska, Thomas Kelley, co-founder of Norman Kelley, and his design partner Carrie Norman, to produce site-responsive furniture. AMERICAN FRAMING was made possible by The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. Support was provided by Glen-Gery Corporation/Brickworks and MADWorskhop Foundation. The opening of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, including the U.S. Pavilion, has been postponed to August 29 and will be on view through November 29, 2020.
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2020 Venice Architecture Biennale postponed until August

The 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, slated to kick off on May 23, has now joined a growing list of major international architecture and design events to be postponed due to the spread of coronavirus. As Domus reported, the 17th annual Biennale will now commence on August 29 and run through November 29. In a February 27 online press conference officially presenting the exhibition, its theme, and a full list of participants, Paolo Baratta, the outgoing president of La Biennale di Venezia, indicated that the Biennale would proceed as planned on May 23. That, obviously, has changed as coronavirus continues to spread throughout Italy, other European countries, and beyond. Italy’s northern regions, including the Veneto and Lombardy, have seen the highest concentration of outbreaks outside of mainland China, where the deadly virus originated in the city of Wuhan, and South Korea. It has also been announced that Italy is considering closing all schools and universities for two weeks in a drastic effort to curb the outbreak. Salon del Mobile, the world’s largest modern furniture fair and design event held annually in Milan, has also been pushed back until mid-June from its original April 21 kick-off date. Additionally, flights to northern Italy, Milan in particular, have been halted by major U.S. airline carriers in recent days, which would have further complicated the cross-Atlantic travel needed to attend many of the affected fairs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also advised against traveling to Italy in general for the time being. According to a statement released by the exhibition's organizers and obtained by The Art Newspaper, the postponement is largely a logistical move made in direct response to these travel restrictions. “The new dates have been established as a consequence of the recent precautionary measures in the matter of mobility taken by the governments of a growing number of countries around the world, which will have a domino effect on the movement of people and works in coming weeks,” reads the statement. AN will update this story as we learn more about the postponement.
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Venice Architecture Biennale 2020 will proceed as scheduled, announces exhibitors

Despite mounting fears that it would be postponed or outright canceled as health officials work to contain the spread of coronavirus in northern Italy, it's been announced that the 17th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale is very much still a go and will kick off on May 23 and run through November 29. The exhibition vernissage–or pre-opening—will be held on May 21 and 22 as originally scheduled. The announcement was made by Paolo Baratta, the outgoing president of La Biennale di Venezia, via an online presentation held in Venice. The formal presentation of the Biennale was originally scheduled to be made during a press conference held at the Italian Cultural Institute in London on March 3 but was abruptly canceled earlier this week. In addition to confirming that the 2020 Biennale will proceed as normal, Baratta, as anticipated, further elaborated on the exhibition’s theme, How will we live together? The theme was first unveiled by curator Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in July 2019. “There has been a constant theme over the years, the social advantages which architecture can catalyze,” said Baratta. “As we have often said, Architecture makes us more aware individuals, it helps us become citizens, not just consumers, it stimulates us to consider the indirect effects of our actions, it helps us understand more fully the importance of public goods and of free goods. It helps us develop a more all-around vision of welfare.“ Baratta went on to elaborate on the curatorial approach of Sarkis:
“In its broad-ranging gaze, the exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis captures the structural problems of contemporary society. He observes—and we with him—that, in every corner of the world, phenomena of intense change are underway, they all differ but what they share is a need for important ‘adjustments’ in living conditions. Thus, the gaze of the curator and the Exhibition ranges even further afield. Architecture becomes the reference point of a vast interdisciplinary commitment and of a vast cultural and political commitment. “We live in a time characterized by a potential feeling of no longer being assured of an increasingly widespread progress but, instead, of being victims of the changes it entails. This is a time in which many could take advantage of the ensuing fears, worries, and changes to promote ultra-defensive campaigns. We find it useful if a Biennale can remind everyone that the identity of a society or a community lies in the quality of the projects it formulates for its future, to correct distortions and valorize resources. And, as can be seen by the many phenomena that are impacting the world just now, these projects can only arise from extensive awareness and widespread collaboration.”
In total, 114 participants from 46 countries will present at the 2020 Biennale—this is a notable increase from the 71 participants in the 2018 edition of the Biennale. La Biennale di Venezia noted that there will be increased participation from architects hailing from Latin American, Asian, and African countries. Thirty-six American and multinational teams with American members are among the exhibitors, and a complete list of participants can be found below. As for the Biennale’s crowd-drawing national pavilions, there will be 63 in total including first-time participants Grenada, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. The U.S. Pavillion is being co-curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Weekends on Architecture, a supplementary series of lectures and panels, will run throughout the course of the festival. And as during past Venice Architecture Biennales, there will be a special emphasis on education-based initiatives and programming for all ages. “The Biennale Architettura 2020 is motivated by new kinds of problems that the world is putting in front of architecture, but it is also inspired by the emerging activism of young architects and the radical revisions being proposed by the profession of architecture to take on these challenges,” said Sarkis. “But more than ever, architects are called upon to propose alternatives. As citizens, we mobilize our synthetic skills to bring people together to resolve complex problems. As artists, we defy the inaction that comes from uncertainty to ask ‘What if?’ And as builders, we draw from our bottomless well of optimism. The confluence of roles in these nebulous times can only make our agency stronger and, we hope, our architecture more beautiful.” Information on the Biennale’s exhibitors, programming, locations, ticketing, and more can be found here. Below are all 114 architects and architecture firms that will be presenting, organized by the Biennale’s five different thematic stations and their locations.

Among Diverse Beings—Arsenale

  • Allan Wexler Studio (New York, USA) Allan Wexler
  • Ani Liu (New York, USA)
  • Azra Aksamija (Cambridge, USA)
  • FABER FUTURES (London, UK) Natsai Audrey Chieza
  • Lucy McRae (Los Angeles, USA)
  • MAEID [Büro für Architektur und transmediale Kunst] (Vienna, Austria) Daniela Mitterberger, Tiziano Derme
  • Modem (Oakland, USA) Nicholas de Monchaux, Kathryn Moll
  • Parsons & Charlesworth (Chicago, USA) Tim Parsons, Jessica Charlesworth
  • Peju Alatise (Lagos, Nigeria)
  • Philip Beesley Architect and Living Architecture Systems Group (Toronto, Canada) Philip Beesley
  • Refik Anadol Studio (Los Angeles, USA) Refik Anadol
  • Studio Libertiny (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Tomas Libertiny
  • Studio Ossidiana (Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Milan, Italy) Giovanni Bellotti, Alessandra Covini
  • The Living (New York, USA) David Benjamin

As New Households—Arsenale

  • Achim Menges / ICD University of Stuttgart and Jan Knippers / ITKE University of Stuttgart (Stuttgart, Germany) Achim Menges, Jan Knippers
  • Aires Mateus (Lisbon, Portugal) Francisco Aires Mateus, Manuel Aires Mateus
  • AL_A (London, UK) Amanda Levete, Ho-Yin Ng, Alice Dietsch, Maximiliano Arrocet
  • Alison Brooks Architects (London, UK) Alison Brooks
  • Atelier RITA (Paris, France) Valentine Guichardaz-Versini
  • BAAG Buenos Aires Arquitectura Grupal (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Griselda Balian, Gastón Noriega, Gabriel Monteleone
  • ecoLogicStudio (London, UK) Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto
  • Farshid Moussavi Architecture (London, UK) Farshid Moussavi
  • Fernanda Canales (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • gad · line+ studio (Hangzhou, China) Fanhao Meng
  • Gramazio Kohler Architects / NCCR DFAB (Zürich, Switzerland) Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler
  • K63.STUDIO (Nairobi, Kenya, Vancouver, Canada) Osborne Macharia
  • leonmarcial arquitectos (Lima, Peru) Alexia Leon, Lucho Marcial
  • Leopold Banchini Architects (Geneva, Switzerland) Leopold Banchini
  • LIN Architects Urbanists (Berlin, Germany, Paris, France) Finn Geipel
  • Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture (Paris, France) Lina Ghotmeh
  • Miralles Tagliabue EMBT (Barcelona, Spain) Benedetta Tagliabue, Elena Nedelcu, Joan Callís
  • nicolas laisné architectes (Montreuil, France) Nicolas Laisné
  • OPAFORM architects (Bergen, Norway) Marina Bauer, Espen Folgerø
  • Open Systems Lab (London, UK) Alastair Parvin)
  • ROJO / FERNÁNDEZ-SHAW, arquitectos (Madrid, Spain) Begoña Fernadez-Shaw, Luis Rojo
  • Sahel Alhiyari Architects (Amman, Jordan) Sahel Alhiyari
  • SsD (Seoul, Korea, New York, USA) Jinhee Park
  • THE OPEN WORKSHOP (San Francisco, USA, Toronto, Canada) Neeraj Bhatia, Antje Steinmuller

As Emerging Communities—Arsenale 

  • antonas office (Athens, Greece, Berlin, Germany) Aristide Antonas
  • Arquitectura Expandida (Bogotá, Colombia) Ana López Ortego, Harold Guyaux, Felipe González González, Viviana Parada Camargo
  • atelier masōmī (Niamey, Niger) Mariam Kamara
  • Bouroullec Brothers (Paris, France) Erwan Bouroullec, Ronan Bouroullec
  • Cohabitation Strategies (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Lucia Babina, Emiliano Gandolfi, Gabriela Rendon, Miguel Robles Duran
  • doxiadis+ (Athens, Greece) Thomas Doxiadis
  • EFFEKT (Copenhagen, Denmark) Sinus Lynge, Tue Foged
  • ELEMENTAL (Santiago de Chile, Chile) Alejandro Aravena, Victor Oddó, Gonzalo Arteaga, Diego Torres, Juan Cerda
  • Enlace Arquitectura (Caracas, Venezuela) Elisa Silva
  • Fieldoffice Architects (Yilan, Taiwan) Huang Sheng-Yuan
  • Han Tumertekin (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Igneous Tectonics (Cambridge, USA) Cristina Parreño, Sergio Araya
  • Lacol (Barcelona, Spain) Ariadna Artigas, Mirko Gegundez, Lali Daví, Pol Massoni, Anna Clemente, Cristina Gamboa, Núria Vila, Jordi Miró, Ernest Garriga, Eliseu Arrufat, Laura Lluch, Lluc Hernandez, Arnau Andrés, Carles Baiges
  • Leong Leong (New York, USA) Dominic Leong, Christopher Leong
  • Manuel Herz Architects and Iwan Baan (Basel, Switzerland, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) Manuel Herz, Iwan Baan
  • NADAAA (Boston, USA) Nader Tehrani, Arthur Chang
  • OMA (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Reinier de Graaf
  • PRÁCTICA (Madrid, Spain) Jaime Daroca Guerrero, José Mayoral Moratilla, José Ramón Sierra Gómez de León
  • raumlaborberlin (Berlin, Germany) Andrea Hofmann, Axel Timm, Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius, Christof Mayer, Florian Stirnemann, Francesco Apuzzo, Frauke Gerstenberg, Jan Liesegang, Markus Bader
  • S.E.L (Cambridge, USA, Paris, France) Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
  • Sean Lally (Lausanne, Switzerland, Chicago, USA)
  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (New York, USA) Colin Koop
  • Storia Na Lugar (Praia, Cabo Verde) Patti Anahory, Cesar Schofield Cardoso
  • studio L A (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) Lorien Beijaert, Arna Mačkić
  • Superflux (London, UK) Anab Jain, Jon Ardern
  • TUMO Center for Creative Technologies (Yerevan, Armenia) Marie Lou Papazian, Pegor Papazian
  • UNStudio (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos
  • WOJR (Cambridge, USA) William O'Brien Jr.

Across Borders; Giardini—Central Pavilion 

  • AAU ANASTAS (Bethlehem, Palestine) Elias Anastas, Yousef Anastas
  • ACASA GRINGO CARDIA DESIGN (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Gringo Cardia with AIKAX, Takumã Kuikuro (Amazonas, MG, Brazil) and People’s Palace Projects, Paul Heritage (London, UK)
  • ASSET Production Studio (Berlin, Germany) Anna-Sophie Springer with Ibu Kota Kolektif (Indonesia), Yayasan Peta Bencana (Indonesia), Nashin Mahtani (Indonesia) and Armin Linke (Italy, Germany)
  • Atelier Marko Brajovic (São Paulo, Brazil) Marko Brajovic, Bruno Bezerra
  • BASE studio (Santiago, Chile) Barbara Barreda, Felipe Sepulveda
  • Dan Majka & Gary Setzer (Madison and Tucson, USA) Dan Majka, Gary Setzer
  • Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (Beit Sahour, Palestine) Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal
  • Dogma (Brussels, Belgium) Martino Tattara, Pier Vittorio Aureli
  • Forensic Oceanography (London, UK) Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani
  • Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST) (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, New York, USA)Malkit Shoshan
  • GFA (Sydney, Australia) Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, Urtzi Grau
  • Giuditta Vendrame (Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Heatherwick Studio (London, UK) Thomas Heatherwick
  • La Minga (Quito, Ecuador)Pablo Escudero
  • Lateral Office and Arctic Design Group (Toronto, Canada, Charlottesville, USA) Mason White, Lola Sheppard, Leena Cho, Matthew Jull
  • Matilde Cassani, Ignacio G. Galan, Ivan L. Munuera, Joel Sanders (Milan, Italy, New York, USA, Princeton, USA, New Haven, USA)
  • Michael Maltzan Architecture (Los Angeles, USA) Michael Maltzan
  • MDP Michel Desvigne Paysagiste (Paris, France) Michel Desvigne
  • Monsoon Assemblages and Office of Experiments (London, UK) Lindsay Bremner, Neal White
  • Olalekan Jeyifous (Brooklyn, USA) and Mpho Matsipa (Johannesburg, South Africa and New York, USA)
  • Paula Nascimento (Luanda, Angola)
  • Pinar Yoldas (San Diego, USA)
  • Rural Urban Framework (Hong Kong, China) Joshua Bolchover, John Lin
  • Smout Allen ( London, UK) Laura Allen, Mark Smout, Geoff Manaugh
  • Somatic Collaborative (New York, USA) Anthony Acciavatti, Felipe Correa, Devin Dobrowolski
  • Studio Paola Viganò (Milan, Italy) Paola Viganò
  • Studio Tomás Saraceno (Berlin, Germany) Tomás Saraceno
  • UNLESS (Hamburg, Germany) Giulia Foscari Widmann Rezzonico
  • Vogt Landscape Architects (Zürich, Switzerland)Günther Vogt

As One Planet; Giardini—Central Pavilion 

  • Bethany Rigby (London, UK)
  • Cave_bureau (Nairobi, Kenya) Karanja Kabage, Stella Mutegi
  • Christina Agapakis, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg & Sissel Tolaas (Boston, USA; London, UK; Berlin, Germany)
  • DESIGN EARTH (Cambridge and Ann Arbor, USA) Rania Ghosn, El Hadi Jazairy
  • Kei Kaihoh Architects (Tokyo, Japan) Kei Kaihoh
  • Mabe Bethônico (Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Geneva, Switzerland)
  • OOZE and Marjetica Potrč (Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Lubjiana, Slovenia) Eva Pfannes, Sylvain Hartenberg, Marjetica Potrč
  • Plan B Architecture & Urbanism (New Haven, USA) Joyce Hsiang, Bimal Mendis
  • Self-Assembly Lab (Cambridge, USA)Skylar Tibbits, Jared Laucks, Schendy Kernizan
  • spbr arquitetos (Sao Paolo, Brazil) Angelo Bucci
  • TVK (Paris, France) Pierre Alain Trévelo, Antoine Viger-Kohler
  • Urban Theory Lab (UTL) Harvard GSD / Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich (Cambridge, USA, Zürich, Switzerland) Neil Brenner, Christian Schmid
  • Weitzman School of Design (Philadelphia, USA) Richard Weller

How Will We Play Together?—Fort Marghera

  • AWILDC-AWP london (London, UK, New York, USA) Alessandra Cianchetta
  • HAJEK & SKULL + MOLOARCHITEKTI (Prague, Czech Republic) Matej Hajek, Tereza Kucerova
  • HHF Architects (Basel, Switzerland) Tilo Herlach, Simon Hartmann, Simon Frommenwiler
  • Ifat Finkelman & Deborah Pinto Fdeda (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Sean Ahlquist - University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA) Sean Ahlquist
  • Wissam Chaaya (Beirut, Lebanon)
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Italian film producer Roberto Cicutto named president of Venice Biennale

Roberto Cicutto has been named the new president of the Venice Biennale, the parent organization of the biennial architectural showcase and its sister events in art, film, dance, and music, and theater. Dario Franceschini, the Italian minister of culture, appointed Cicutto to the prestigious role which has been long-held by Paolo Baratta. The 71-year-old former film producer most recently served as the head of Luce Cinecittà, Italy’s state-owned film producer and distributor that aims to promote original Italian cinema around the world. Born in Venice, Cicutto founded several companies including Mikado Film, Aura Film, Sacher Distribuzione, and Ermanno Olmi—the latter through which his The Legend of the Holy Drinker won the Gold Lion Award at the 1988 Venice Film Festival. From 2009 to 2014, Cicutto also led the film market at the International Rome Film Festival. Cicutto’s appointment comes just months ahead of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, which is slated to start in May. His first task as president of the overall organization will reportedly involve appointing a new director of the Venice Film Festival. Alberto Barbera, the current leader, has been in the position for a second time since 2012.
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Finland's Venice pavilion will highlight former prefab timber housing industry

The little-known history of Finnish prefabricated timber housing will be on display in the Finnish Pavilion at next year's Venice Biennale. Archinfo Finland, the organization charged with populating the country's exhibition, announced last month that New Standards, curated by Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell, and Kristo Vesikansa, will explore the Puutalo housing model as part of the 2020 event's theme: How will we live together? Based on a design conceived during the 1940 internal refugee crisis in Finland when 11 percent of people were displaced from their homes, the showcase will highlight the Puutalo consortium, made up of the country’s timber manufacturers, which rejected temporary refugee camps in favor of thoughtful, livable housing designed by major mid-century Finnish architects. The Finnish design proved popular enough to be brought to over 50 countries through 1956, totaling 300,000 homes internationally, many of which are still in use today.  The American-Finnish curators, a trio of post-doctoral researchers, lecturers, and architects from Aalto University (located near Helsinki), have linked the pavilion's theme with the biennale's overall focus on confronting the issues of economic and social inequity presented in an unprecedentedly multicultural and interconnected world. With New Standards, they aim to show that the Puutalo housing model is more relevant than ever as many parts of the world look to the Nordic tradition of strong social welfare as global refugee populations continue to increase. “Factory-built timber housing is an area of huge interest for architects looking to solve the question of how we can build quickly and economically, without sacrificing quality or causing further damage to the environment,” said Hanna Harris, director of Archinfo Finland and commissioner of the Finnish Pavilion in a statement.Hashim Sarkis has asked the participants in the Biennale Architettura 2020 to consider how we will live together," she said. "Finland’s experience of Puutalo housing is of a low-impact, long-lasting, sustainable and well-loved solution. It offers the world an example of mass-produced family housing that is an alternative to grand projects, demonstrating how individual identity can be celebrated in the context of standardization, as well as a validation that design can improve people’s lives.”
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Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner selected for 2020 U.S. Pavilion

Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are slated to co-curate the U.S. Pavilion for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale next year. The U.S. Department of State announced this weekend that the duo intends to recontextualize the 1930-era U.S. Pavilion building in a new work entitled AMERICAN FRAMING. Ninety years ago, architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich served as the chosen organizers of the U.S. Pavilion for the 1930 edition of the international festival. Together they designed the now-famous neo-Palladian building that has long-housed the American exhibition, with its signature entry rotunda and two wings holding four galleries.  In response to artistic director Hashim Sarkis’ main theme for the 2020 showcase, How will we live together?, Andersen and Preissner aim to build out a similarly bold inner pavilion that represents the ubiquitous wood-framed domestic architecture across modern America. Their vision for AMERICAN FRAMING will explore the “conditions and consequences” of wood-framed construction in the United States’ building economy. 
 
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Omaha Reservation, Nebraska, 1877. photo by William H Jackson #americanframing

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Both curators have extensive backgrounds in practice as well as teaching and curating. Andersen is the founder of the Denver-based studio Independent Architecture and a clinical associate professor at UIC. He previously served as guest curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Denver and at the Biennial of the Americas. Preissner is currently teaching at Columbia University’s GSAPP this fall but regularly works as an associate professor at UIC as well. In Chicago, Preissner dually operates his eponymous Chicago firm, Paul Preissner Architects. Andersen and Preissner have collaborated together before, most recently on an installation at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennale entitled Five Rooms, comprised of freestanding, glazed-tile walls.  The Venice Architecture Biennale will run from May 23, 2020, through November 29, 2020.
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Germany selects a team for the Venice Architecture Biennale, but what about the U.S. Pavilion?

The German Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community has announced the curatorial team for the German Pavilion for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2020, which will take place May 23 through November 29. Following the recommendation of a jury chaired by Peter Cachola Schmal, director of the German Museum of Architecture, the ministry has selected team “2038” to move forward with their concept of how we'll live in the next decade.  The concept is described as a “review from the future,” in which society looks back from the year 2038, “because everything ended up okay,” according to the curators. In this speculative view of the future, architects helped build success by answering “the great questions of our time” and standing up for the “common good” by focusing on systemic solutions. The concept is expected to be presented in detail in early 2020.  The team consists of curators Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert, Nikolaus Hirsch, and Christopher Roth, and was chosen due to the project’s “representation of future-oriented solutions for relevant social, ecological and economic problems,” according to Anne Katrin Bohle, Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Interior.  But with the announcement of the German Pavilion, it leaves us on this side of the world wondering, when will the United States reveal their selection? A source familiar with the bureau at the U.S. Department of State that manages the biennale selection alongside the National Endowment for the Arts told AN that the lack of information on such matters could possibly be related to the backlog in issuing grants as a result of the last government shutdown.  While the United States government has gradually increased the amount of financial support given to presenters up to $325,000 (including $125,000 to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice), it is stated in U.S. Dept. of State application documents that “Past experiences have shown that the overall cost of mounting an exhibition of this scale is considerably higher than actual U.S. Government funding that can be provided through this grant.”  Organizers could expect the need to raise up to another $700,000 to complete a successful bid. With the Venice Architecture Biennale only seven months away, given the amount of time and effort such fundraising requires, the indecision on announcing the selection is hardly fair to the organizers, and mounting a pavilion on such short notice could prove to be an impossible task. 
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The Evidence Room embodies the architecture of Auschwitz at the Hirshhorn

According to Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, a Dutch author and architectural historian, constructing Auschwitz was “the greatest crime ever committed by architects.” Known for his work in what he coined as “architectural forensics,” van Pelt famously testified in the landmark libel case filed in Britain’s High Court of Justice in 2000, David Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt. The evidence he gathered by studying the efficacy in the design of both the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau helped prove that the infamous concentration camp was intentionally designed by German architects to systematically kill over one million Jews during World War II. In tandem, it denounced the British Holocaust denier who filed the complaint and secured the widely-held belief that the horrific human massacre had actually happened. That trial inspired van Pelt to tell the story in his 2002 book, The Case for Auschwitz, which became the basis of a special exhibition commissioned for the 15th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016. That seminal show, The Evidence Room, is now on view for the first time in the U.S. at the Hirshhorn National Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washingon, D.C. The exhibition depicts van Pelt’s body of proof in the sculptural form of 65 wall-mounted plaster casts that replicate the blueprints, bills, survivor’s drawings, photographs, and artifacts he acquired on the construction and operation of Auschwitz from 1941 to 1943.  The ghostly, all-white installation also utilizes materials such as steel and wood and features three, full-scale building elements, dubbed “monuments,” that were part of the original killing rooms at Auschwitz. There’s a gas chamber door, which notably hinges outward and proves that architects revised the entryways of the on-site morgues to become gas chambers. There’s also a wall hatch and ladder, which guards climbed to throw the cyanide gas down into the chambers. Lastly, on view is a floor-to-ceiling gas column through which the deadly pesticide Zyklon B was routed down into the two underground chambers.  Though Nazis blew up the gas chambers at Auschwitz and other concentration camps in an effort to destroy evidence of the Holocaust at the end of WWII, van Pelt’s archival documents from the trial argue the truth of these atrocities point-blank: that the architecture was predetermined for mass killing. The Evidence Room is an immersive experience originally designed three years ago by van Pelt and his colleagues at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, including Donald McKay, Anne Bordeleau, and Sascha Hastings. This iteration of the installation was organized by the Hirshhorn’s assistant curator Betsy Johnson, in collaboration with The Evidence Room Foundation, a new nonprofit that will maintain and fund the exhibition. The version of the show at the Hirshhorn will run through September 8.
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Hashim Sarkis announces the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale theme

How will we live together? That’s the seemingly simple, yet poignant, question posed by Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, and also the title of the show set to start next May. Though it’s nearly a year away, Sarkis announced that it’s time for architects to think about their role in creating a new, collective "spatial contract"—one that is inclusive and addresses two of the most pressing needs in both advanced and emerging economies today: social housing and urban connectivity.  “We need a new spatial contract,” Sarkis said in a statement. “In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together: together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation…and together as a planet facing crisis that require global action for us to continue living at all.” In order to build societies where we can successfully live together, according to Sarkis, architects need to engage with and enlist the expertise of those outside the design profession, such as artists, politicians, builders, social scientists, and journalists. Everyday citizens are also key to designing spaces that are truly for all people. National participants of the 2020 Biennale will be asked to introduce creative solutions made in tandem with these other stakeholders. Architects will act as both a “cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract” in the execution of these projects, as well as in the real world.  Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Architecture Biennale, said this way of thinking and of curating the summer design event has been slowly building over the last few years. “The Biennale Architettura 2018 has brought our attention on free space,” he said, “an essential element of our living that has been omitted in so many recent developments. With Hashim Sarkis we will try to expand our horizon to all these issues raised by our living together. Living together means first and foremost awareness of [the] potential crisis and old and new problems that do not get appropriate solutions, nor often appropriate attention, in the spontaneous development of our economies and societies and that require enhanced attention and an extensive and courageous planning capacity.” The purpose of the biennale is to help unify contributing countries around the new spatial contract charged by Sarkis. Since 2020 is considered by some to be a milestone year, it’s imperative, said Sarkis, that architects look to the collective imagination of leaders across every profession to prepare for the occasion.  Starting May 23rd, 2020, the National Participants of the biennale will showcase their own work in the individual Pavilions located at the Giardini and the Arsenale. A series of Collateral Events, presented by international institutions, will also be held in Venice alongside the exhibition through November 29, 2020. Interestingly enough, no information on what the U.S. will be contributing in 2020 has been released as of yet. While the design team for the American Pavilion has, in the past, been chosen in May of the year before the Biennale, the State Department waited until September 2017 to release their choice for the 16th Biennale.
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Walls of Air maps the myriad divisions that mark contemporary Brazil

In the post-truth age, the effective and public display of meticulously researched data is a welcome change. The Americas Society's Walls of Air exhibition is an instructive and concise mapping of the trends of urbanism, environmentalism, and economic relations, amongst many other subjects. Four Brazilian and Mexican architects curated the exhibition: Sol Camacho, Laura González Fierro, Marcello Maia Rosa, and Gabriel Kozlowski. The Americas Society’s gallery is located on the ground floor of McKim, Mead & White’s Neo-Federal 680 Park Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The gallery, in contrast to the grandeur of the turn-of-the-century mansion, is relatively stark and divided into three rectilinear spaces. The show's curatorial medium du jour are large format, ten-foot-by-ten-foot UV prints on aluminum composite material, mounted on aluminum frames. The panels are supplemented with video interviews with project researchers. The exhibition was originally displayed in 2018 at the Brazilian Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale and began as a research project to examine and discuss the visible and non-visible walls or barriers that make up contemporary Brazil.   It is immediately apparent from viewing the cartographic drawings the exhaustive level of research undertaken to produce them. The curators partnered with a multidisciplinary team with particular expertise on the subject matter for each panel. In total, over 200 professionals, ranging from the fields of social sciences to the visual arts, aided in the project's collaborative research. This data, in some circumstances Excel sheets with over a million entries, was then visualized with a broad toolbox of software including GIS, Rhino, and Illustrator. Visually, the Brazil displayed throughout the exhibition is not bounded by national frontiers, but placed amid a fluid web of global and regional forces. Deforestation, a trend reshaping the Amazon basin, is presented as a continental issue stretching from the Andes to the river deltas on the coast of the Atlantic. Land stripped bare to the west effectively reduces the level of humidity and rainfall in other places, such as northeastern Brazil—in effect, the policies of one locality catastrophically spin outwards across the ecosystem and impact the surrounding region. A particularly well-documented aspect in Walls of Air is the mapping of commodity flows, immigrant migration, and the geography of the country's real estate market. Lines of increasing width are color-coded to specify the material harvested—bearing a fair resemblance to Charles Minard's map of Napoleon's Russian Campaign—and drive from the Brazilian hinterland to the primary trade ports in the country's southeast. The destination of each type of commodity, its monetary value, and the nation's imports are neatly placed on the side margins of the print. When juxtaposed with the concentration of real estate value in the country's southeast and the destination of immigrant groups within the primary economic centers, one can tease out the prevailing socioeconomic contours of Brazil and the geographic inequalities therein. Walls of Air concludes with an analysis of the Brazilian city in history and the present day. Beginning with Portuguese colonization in the 16th century, the curators mark every single city founded within the country since and the maritime routes that fed them. The subject is expanded upon further with the analysis of post-war urban planning, maps of manmade modifications to metropolitan topography, and data focused on acts of insurrection.

Walls of Air: The Brazilian Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale Americas Society 680 Park Avenue New York, New York Through August 3, 2019

 
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The Cruising Pavilion, New York maps queer pasts and futures

On the blacked-out front door of Ludlow 38, the Goethe Institute’s downtown outpost, is a plaque. In simple, sans serif, white letters it says: "THIS GALLERY CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGERY. PARENT/ADULT DISCRETION IS ADVISED." Open the door and even before you cross the threshold you’ll hear moaning. Or at least I did. I suppose timing matters—not every moment of what turns out to be Shu Lea Cheang’s 2001 video I.K.U. - I robosex has moaning. Inside, with the windows blacked out and the overhead lamps turned off, purple LED strips hidden behind walls provide the only light in the gallery, and it’s hard to make things out clearly. It hardly feels like an art exhibition but there is still a gallery attendant at the front desk, which reminds you that you do have to behave. This is Cruising Pavilion, New York, the second of three iterations of the architectural exploration of gay sex and cruising originally presented to coincide with the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and created and curated by Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault, and Charles Teyssou, and produced along with the Ludlow 38 curator, Franziska Sophie Wildförster. The third, and perhaps final, Cruising Pavilion will go up in Stockholm this fall. A friend and I often remark that there are no real gay bars on the east side below Delancey—or even below Houston, really—where we actually live and spend most of our time. The area is not and has never really been known as an epicenter of gay culture, the way the Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and, as unbelievable as it may be now, Times Square have been. As far as I know, there are no regularly operating backrooms, like those you can still find in the East Village, though I’m sure there are some private spaces where people have their share of fun. Even still, those rooms-behind-the-curtain have diminished—along with the theaters, the bathhouses, and certainly the piers—all things well before my time, my time being mostly post-Grindr and long after the first rounds of the mass sanitation of New York City. The powerwashing of our streets with money and moralism continues, as if there were anything less pornographic than New York’s extravagantly boring displays of wealth. There are few things more obscene and less stimulating than the recently opened Hudson Yards. Financial hedonism rarely breeds originality, and if cash is what gets you off, it’s probably because you’re bad in bed. At the opening, the exhibition did remind me a bit of moving about backrooms—bodies bouncing like so many pinballs, everything homogenizing into a swarm—but here I was less drunk and more clothed, and, of course, there was the fear, my fear, of damaging the art (some were less cautious—outside the show someone told me a bit of plexiglass had fallen victim to an errant elbow). Inside, I saw friends, former lovers, and former one night stands. Somebody told me there were poppers in the fog machine. I’m not sure if that’s true, nor if that’s safe, but either way the impression that there could’ve been some speaks to a sense of sensuality, danger, and seediness rarely seen in architecture exhibition. Like museums and galleries, sex and chemicals promise a trip to somewhere else. Perhaps the fog should remind us of the steam of the Continental Baths, long gone, which the curators cite in their release. The Cruising Pavilion highlights the historical entanglements of what the curators call "conflictual architectures." It mines the ineluctably intertwined histories of policing, neoliberalization, right-wing moralism, homonormalization, gentrification, the AIDS crisis, and so on, to map the real past and the gaps of the present, acting as a cartography of possibilities for the queer (mis)use of space. The exhibition is a blueprint towards performances of sexual dissidence, exposing the erotic potentials lurking in hidden dark corners, or maybe even out in the open, should you only try to catch someone—or be caught—in the act. A radical reframing of the notion of "architecture," Cruising Pavilion and the artists and architects it features interrogate sex and sexuality as a way of re- and dis-figuring buildings and cities the world over. Cruising, beyond being a sexual practice, is a spatial one—a phenomenological perversion that uses vision and touch to establish a set of relationships not just between individuals, but between individuals and the spaces they move through. Queer space is produced by its users as much if not more so than by its owners and architects. Sexuality is not just decoration, though it is that too, but, as Cruising Pavilion proposes, sex is a constitutive act of architecture. Museums and galleries make themselves by making rules. They regulate where bodies go, how close and how far from objects you can get, what you can and can’t touch (in general, you can’t touch much of anything). At the Cruising Pavilion it still probably isn’t advisable to touch (it is, after all, an art show) and I doubt getting it on is officially condoned. But for those compelled by the at-once exhibitionist and elusive acts of public sex or furtive hookups, isn’t breaking the rules part of the fun? But the fog and the psychedelic lush of lights evoke another space: The club. Of course, the club, too, can be sanitized and the curators point out the “de-sexualization of disco and house music and their mutations into the official anthem of ‘happy globalization.’” The neoliberal city, like Epcot, sounds better with a soundtrack. The point of the club was and is being together, increasingly important in the AirPod era. It’s hard not to think of the recent closing of the Dreamhouse, itself a veritable ad hoc architectural carnival, home to artist studios and to Spectrum, the favorite after-hours haunt of New York City’s artists, designers, DJs—weirdos and queerdos who came together to dance and talk and screw well past sunrise. One could presumably go to the gallery on drugs, but you’d still have to watch how you acted, lest you be kicked out. Perhaps the biggest queering of space is the simultaneous sensory overload and denial, the ocular S&M that plays out, at once enticing you and denying you. You can’t touch and you can’t see, but boy do you want to. This exhibition’s a tease, which is to say, it—like all art—is about desire and discipline. Cruising Pavilion Ludlow 38 New York, New York Through April 7