With the official grand opening of the Venice Biennale set for Wednesday, August 29, following a two-day preview, it's time to start planning your visit with the only comprehensive guide to the Who, What, and Where of the Biennale. Download your own copy to keep on hand or look for the guide to be printed in the first issue of Guida alla Biennale di Architettura, a partnership between The Architect's Newspaper and Il Giornale Dell'Architettura.
Posts tagged with "Venice Architecture Biennale":
Inspired by our upcoming trip to the Venice Architecture Biennale and the entry for the U.S. Pavilion, AN is hosting a convo on the Glass House Conversations site today through September 2. Talk to us about ways of affecting change in the built environment—are you an advocate of spontaneous intervention? Critical compliance within the established system? And what do these terms mean to you? (Just to stir the pot, we're using a debate format.) Weigh in with your examples and opinions!
Before the 2012 Venice Biennale opens on August 29, Zaha Hadid Architects has released its own preview of the firm’s pavilion to be displayed at the Giardini and the Arsenale in Venice. The pavilion will be one of 66 projects in the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Biennale, entitled Common Ground. The purpose of theme, stated exhibition director David Chipperfield, is to “reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas united in a common history, common ambitions, and common predicaments and ideals.” The work of Zaha Hadid Architects, a pleated metal canopy which the firm refers to as the Arum shell, reacts to this theme in plan and presentation. In a statement, the firm acknowledged within a lineage of work including that of Frei Otto in the instillation on display at the Biennale—a lineage which will be on display alongside the Arum shell. The installation will also be a progression on the firm's own work on tensile structure and lightweight shells as elements of each form are developed together in the finished product. The firm has also released a concept animation, detailing the development of the canopy’s design, a process described as elaborating on Frei Otto’s work on combining material and structure with the firm's own addition of “environmental as well as structural logistics.”
In the cafe of the wonderfully elegant Palazzo Cà Giustinian on Venice's Grand Canal I had a chance to catch up with former AN associate editor Jaffer Kolb. Kolb has gone on to bigger and better projects and is currently the man on the ground in Venice for David Chipperfield as they prepare for the 13th Biennale of Architecture. Jaffer reports that through the usual difficulties (and expense) of working in Venice the event is on schedule. Common Ground will include a good many American architects from various regions. From Ann Arbor: a group called 13178 Moran Street includes Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, Meredith Miller, Thom Moran, Catie Newell, Rosalyne Shieh, and Troy Schaum. New York will send three groups: Peter Eisenman, Toshiko Mori, and Tod Williams/Billie Tsien. The Chicago entry includes: Jeanne Gang, Stanley Tigerman, David Brown, Sarah Dunn, Martin Felsen, Margaret McCurry, and Alexander Eisenschmidt. Finally, Ken Frampton is bringing along a geographically diverse group of Steven Holl, Rick Joy, Stanley Saitowitz, and Canadians John Patkau and Brigitte Shim. Kolb is also excited by an student installation called 40,000 Hours (a working title) which displays an international array of university projects using simple white card board models all displayed anonymously in a single room. The Common Ground theme, Kolb explained, emphasizes shared ideas over individual authorship, and asks architects to initiate dialogues in their projects rather than simply proposing a selection of projects. Whether the participants really take this shared theme to heart will only be apparent in Venice and The Architects Newspaper will be there to report on it. We’ll be publishing a daily newspaper with our partners Allemandi for the first three days of the Biennale, August 27th, 28th, and 29th. If you can't make it to Venice watch for our online reports from La Serenissima.
Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira has been awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The announcement was made today by Biennale board director Paolo Baratta and director David Chipperfield, who noted Siza's authority on designing with bold forms, shaping light, and creating reflective compositions. “Secured by his isolated location, he exudes worldly wisdom. Experimenting with forms of extreme geometry he manages to produce buildings of great rigor. Developing an architectural language that is uniquely his, he seems to speak to all of us. While his work exudes the security of judgment, it is clearly intensified through cautious reflection. While we are dazzled by the lightness of his buildings, we feel the seriousness of their substance," Baratta and Chipperfield said in a statement. “It is difficult to think of a contemporary architect who has maintained such a consistent presence within the profession as Álvaro Siza. That this presence is maintained by an architect that lives and works at the extreme Atlantic margin of Europe only serves to emphasise his authority and his status,” according to a statement. “Since the early appreciation of the Boa Nova restaurant and the swimming pools at Leca de Palmeira and a reputation confirmed by the early houses, Siza has maintained a unique position in the architectural galaxy. This position is full of paradox. Siza has upheld a consistent production of works at the highest level, yet without the slightest hint of the overt professionalism and promotion that has become part of the contemporary architect’s machinery. Apparently running in the opposite direction to the rest of the profession he always seems to be out in front, seemingly untainted and undaunted by the practical and intellectual challenges he sets himself." Siza will be officially honored during a ceremony on Sugust 29, 2012.
The Venice Biennale is staged in an enormous old Arsenal building and in an urban park a few blocks away that houses 30 national pavilions. The first of these pavilions opened in 1907 and several were designed by famous architects like Josef Hoffmann (Austria), BBPR (Canada), Alvar Aalto (Finland), and Sverre Fehn (Nordic). The United States pavilion was designed by William Adams Delano. There have been very few buildings built in the garden since James Sterling designed the biennial book store in 1991, but just behind the U.S. pavilion the Australians are building a new exhibition space designed by Denton Corker Marshall. The Australian architects describe the pavilion as a simple structure or "a white box contained within a black box." The pavilion will open in 2015 for the 56th art biennale and its $6 million price tag will be paid for with private funds.
We can confirm—although not entirely officially—that New York’s Institute for Urban Design will represent the United States at the 2012 Venice architecture biennale. The Chair of Institutes Board of Directors Michael Sorkin has told AN that the theme of their exhibition will be loosely based on the Institute’s new open-source program, By the City/For The City: An Atlas of Possibility for the Future New York, that played out recently across New York to enthusiastic crowds. The details of the exhibition are still to be developed by Sorkin, co-board member Cathy Lang Ho and the institute’s director (and former AN Managing Editor) Anne Guiney. The U.S. Department of State, in a first for the government agency, selected the winning exhibition a full year before the opening of the international exhibition giving the IfUD team time to raise the $300,000 (the State Department has given them $100,000) needed to open in Venice next year. It is not yet clear who will be the official commissioner aka "meeter, greeter, & spokesperson" of the pavilion, but they are currently looking to create “crowd sourced” events all over la Serenissima and not just inside the official giardini or McKim Mead & White American temple. We send our hearty congratulations and will start hoarding our airline miles!
The Venice architecture biennale is still over a year away but the longer running art biennale will open next week. If you are of the architecture bent there is always a great deal to see and visit at the art biennale. Here is a sampling including images from Real Venice: International Artists help to Save Venice in the abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore to remind you just how special is la Serrininisma. But perhaps the most exciting exhibit at this years biennale is Venice in Venice organized and curated by the irrepressible Jacqueline Miro and Tim Nye (with help from Tibby Rothman) about our Venice! If you are not making it to the Venice Biennale, here are some images to savor!
With architectural discourse today so focused on the impact of digital design, it is hard to remember that 20 years ago all architects talked about was postmodernism. The discussion began with the publication of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Aldo Rossi’s The Architecture of the City but became more focused and intense with the opening of an exhibition devoted to the theme. That exhibit, The Presence of the Past, was at the 1980 Venice Biennale and featured a stunning display in the newly renovated “Corderie” of the Venetian Arsenale. That display, Strada Novissima, was a temporary plywood and plaster street, fabricated in Rome’s Cinecitta film studio and featuring facades and back room exhibits by architects including Frank O. Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Arata Isozaki, Robert Venturi, and an grand entrance by Aldo Rossi. This truly epic show was organized and curated by Paolo Portoghesi, who also curated the 1982 Biennale, which he devoted to the architecture of Islamic countries. Portoghesi will be making his first trip to the United Sates in decades and will be in conversation with myself and Aaron Levy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture on Wednesday, April 20th at Meyerson Hall from 6:00 to 8:00. It may not be time dust off your dog-eared copies of Venturi and Rossi, but it is a rare event to have a figure like Portoghesi lecturing on this side of the Atlantic. This event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.
This is the last Venice Architecture Biennale post for 2010--I promise! The organization that oversees all the Venetian biennales (art, film, music etc.), la Biennale di Venezia, sent us a press release with the numbers from the just concluded architecture exhibition. It claims that 170,000 people visited the event, a 31% increase over the last architecture exhibit in 2008 (which had 129,323 attendees). It should be pointed out however that the older and more established art biennale had 375,702 attendees in 2009. The exhibition included the participation of 53 Countries and 20 Collateral events sponsored by international institutions and organizations and located in various venues in and around Venice. Further, the initiative to bring in architecture students to the biennale produced workshops with 21 Italian universities and 15 foreign schools of architecture, and 49% of the total visitors were students. There is no word what was actually produced in these student workshops but the biennale’s Architecture Saturdays, which brought back all the living past curators for conversations, was deemed a success as was the organizations new iphone and ipad apps that link one into the exhibition. The biennale’s president Paolo Baratta, serving his last term as leader of the Italian organization and presumably the person who pushed for Kazuyo Sejima to lead the 2010 event, said in a statement, “We wanted the Exhibition to come back to talk about architecture as indispensable art for planning the civic public life and for growing a civilization that addresses people towards their relations with the others. Sejima offered us an exhibition that enriches our sensibility for the space in which we live, of us as architects but especially as private and public commitments, that have the role to give shape to more qualified questions and ambitions. An exhibition addressed to thinkers and students, but also to the big public as ever that came to visit it.” The 2010 biennale was like its President Baratta: smart and elegant. Fino.
“The biggest fiasco…in the history of Croatian architecture?” Well, not really, but there seem to be some architects in Croatia who are angry that their floating pavilion built for the current Venice biennale was destroyed before it reached its intended mooring at the Giardini. In a press release just sent to us they claim:
The so-called Croatian floating pavilion designed for this year’s Venice Biennale by the group of architects and professors—Sasa Begovic, Marko Dabrovic, Igor Franic, Tanja Grozdanic, Petar Miskovic, Leo Modrcin, Silvije Novak, Veljko Oluic, Helena Paver Njiric, Lea Pelivan, Toma Plejic, Goran Rako, Sasa Randic, Idis Turato, Pero Vukovic, Tonci Zarnic—who used a huge amount of Croatian taxpayers’ money to build it, was never exhibited there because it has collapsed infamously, like a melted custard pastry, on its way. In spite of the fact that irreparable damage was caused by the structural failure, nobody took responsibility for the biggest fiasco in the history of Croatian architecture.I was at the Venetian Giardini with several other journalists on the day the pavilion was meant to arrive, and we watched as the pavilion appeared in the hazy lagoon but never quite made it to the dockside, so in the spirit of Venice we settled in at the Giardini bar and enjoyed a spritz. In an email, one of the designers, Leo Modrcin, explained that “the Croatian pavilion was damaged during the transportation from Croatia to Venice. It required additional bracing for longer trips and exposure to the sea’s elements. The recommended removable scaffolding frame was not installed due to time and funding constraints. The lashing of the structure was executed by the towing company, but was obviously inadequate.” Obviously! But pavilions are by nature temporary and ephemeral, and this one at least looked great! We all know how important media images are to architecture, and it still remains one of my favorite pavilions in Venice.
Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Today—after two days of too many speeches and press conferences—the biennale finally opened the doors of both the Arsenale and the national pavilions in the giardini, and everyone had their first chance to officially see if people really do meet in architecture. I ran through the projects installed in the Arsenale and in the afternoon the Italian pavilion in the giardini, which is of course not the Italian pavilion but simply a large exhibition space. The gigantic Arsenale has only 15 installations this year, giving each vast amounts of space in which to confront visitors. Most are therefore huge installations and are really engaged in design pyrotechnics more than displays of building models. They are architecture, but in what is fast becoming a kind of biennale style, halfway between design and art. These include a 3-D film by Wim Wenders of SANAA’s Rolex Center and a smoke-filled cloud room with a long spiral ramp that is a pale replica of Diller and Scofidio’s Blur Building from 2002. Another space titled Architecture as Air: Study for Chateau La Coste by the architect Junya Ishigami is constructed from a field of thin monofilament pieces precisely arrayed across the space like a barely visible Fred Sandback string sculpture. Ishigami’s piece is indecipherable and most visitors simply pass through, but I was told by some young workers that it was meant to be a self-supporting line house until a cat ran through last night and it came crashing down. Can this be true? Anyway, it’s a good story. Like what happened yesterday to Aaron Betsky, who curated the biennale in 2008. He was turned back at the door because he did not have the right credentials. When he protested that he had been the curator two years ago, an official replied: “So what are you doing at the biennale this year?” In the afternoon, I saw the Italian pavilion, which Italian curator Luca Molinari has filled with a more diverse body of work than displayed in the Arsenale, ranging from installation projects to artworks and models. It’s hard in a quick blog post to summarize the work in this enormous pavilion without flattening out the diversity here or reverting to clichés. It deserves more thought and attention and individual consideration and that’s what I will try and do in an upcoming post. But if there is a theme in the Italian pavilion, it is that more than a few critique or try to update the notion of utopia either in its early idealization—or the more recent consideration of it as not a model worth considering. There is Tom Sachs' installation of slightly torn paper Corbusian prototypes on the one side, and Aldo Cibic’s wonderful small-scale utopian landscape of idealized building types, from high-design, high-density housing to bland suburban cul de sacs. In between these are all sorts of architectural thoughts, but none more thoughtful than Rem Koolhaas and a history of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture, a tribute to his winning this year’s Golden Lion. I did have a chance to check out the British pavilion and see its wonderful muf-designed wooden "medical school" theater and miniature Venetian estuary complete with crabs and snails. Both show the advantage of having designers of muf’s ability curating an exhibition. Finally, the Ryue Nishizawa-curated Japanese pavilion is also rethinking utopia, in this case a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Metabolist movement. It brings back the movement but argues in fact that the city is organic and, as Aaron Levy claims, “beyond politics.” Now for the important stuff: The best party so far was the Audi Urban Futures event at the fabulous and long-vacant Misericordia space, which a Venetian friend used as a basketball court when she was a child. The highlight of the party was the announcement that the Future Award (worth 100,000 euros) was won by Jurgen Mayer H., an architect of great design talent who is now beginning to emerge as an international force. With the biennale finally underway, I’m beginning to wonder if Sejima is right, and people meet in architecture, or, as Italian critic Luigi Prestinenza Pugliese says, does this show prove that “architects don’t really like people?”