"Venice Architecture Biennale 'cannot get any worse' says Wolf D. Prix," read the headline on Dezeen's August 30 wire post. In a press release titled “The Banal,” Prix declared that that architects participating in the biennale are “playing” while the profession is “sinking into powerlessness and irrelevance” at the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and investors. The broadside caused a stir in Venice during he opening and in the blogosphere but now it appears that Prix was never in Venice for the biennale in the first place and thus had not seen the exhibition he denounced. His office claims that Prix has been misunderstood and "the critique addressed the theme of the exhibition, not the show or its execution," according to a spokesperson for the firm. Mr. Prix has a right to critique David Chipperfield’s chose theme, “Common Ground.” He makes some valid points comparing the biennale to a Venetian Carnival where "one can imagine all the architects in Pierrot costumes surrounded by masked critics and dancing the Dance Banale." The bi-annual fair does have its "hollow, arduous, exhausting, bleak and boring moments," as Prix argued but also displays of pure elation, beauty, critique, and poetry. It’s a trade show like no other and one really does have to attend to feel its "hollow" and beautiful moments and insights. In the 2008 biennale Mr. Prix displayed his iconic 1969 "Feedback Space" plastic bubble that one had to see and enter to really understand. Perhaps Mr. Prix should remember that his recreated plastic bubble argued for and required "physicalness." It comes off like sour grapes that Mr. Prix, who was not exhibiting at this biennale, lambasted it without seeing it himself. I wonder if he would be pleased if journalists critiqued his BMW “Welt” building without actually visiting it in Munich?
Posts tagged with "Venice Architecture Biennale":
The Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale has in recent years been a bit of a snore. The space has been filled most recently in 2010 with unconvincing drawings of older Russian cities and earlier (2008) with models of Ordos McMansions. But this year the pavilion's interior was spectacularly reconfigured with walls of glass QR codes in its central space forming a digital dome, but the display's heavy-handedness brought to mind earlier periods of Russian single mindedness and even totalitarianism. It seems those in charge of this year's Venice effort finally realized what kind of pavilion makes an impact in the giardini on harried biennale visitors and journalists and went for the full design monty. But the tensions in contemporary Russian society were also highlighted on Thursday during the Golden Lion awards presentation ceremony when a few hundred feet away a crew of cocktail-dressed and balaclava-wearing young Russian women "occupied" the exterior of the pavilion to make the case for the Pussy Riot band back in Russia recently jailed for hooliganism. A rumor quickly spread that actual members of the band who had escaped Russie were present at the protest. Were these actually Pussy Rioters or sympathizers? No one was sure but it sure beat listening to the Biennale directors and bureaucrats drone on about Common Ground as the press rushed over from the dreadful press conference.
Between glass curtain walls and art installations, birds just can’t catch a break. For their Venice Architecture Biennale project Pigeon Safari Swiss artist Julian Charrière and German photographer Julius von Bismark captured, airbrushed, then released the pigeons of St. Mark’s Square. The resulting rainbow-colored flock has caused Biennale-goers and tourists alike to do a double take. Charrière told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “Pigeons make up part of our urban landscape, but we view them as though they are an unrecognizable mass, whereas each one has its own identity.” While a newly teal pigeon may imagine itself a peacock, conservationists expressed concern that the birds’ unusual colors would deter mating.
It's been a hot and highly stimulating few days at the Venice Biennale. David Chipperfield's theme, "Common Ground," which sought to establish connections across architecture culture, has proven surprising divisive. Some loved the elegant progression of projects in the Arsenale, which included everything from expressionist displays by Zaha Hadid, to neo-postmodern confections by FAT, to a hand built house by Anupama Kundoo, all of which managed to mingle thanks to Chipperfield's tasteful curation. Some formalists griped that the show was regressive, while more socially engaged architects thought it too estheticizing. Still, every Biennale must crown its winners. This year's Golden Lion for the international exhibition went to Torre David/Gran Horizante by Urban-Think Tank (Alfredo Brillembourg and Herbert Klumpner) and Justin McGuirk, an investigation, featuring photography by Iwan Baan, of an informal community built in an abandoned, unfinished skyscraper in Caracas. The team created an bar inside the Arsenale which featured food, music, drinks, and neon lights to showcase their work and transform the atmosphere of the overall exhibition. The Silver Lion, for a promising practice, was give to Grafton Architects (Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara) for their investigation of the work of Paolo Mendes da Rocha. Cino Zucchi was given a special mention by the jury as well. The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement was given to the widely admired Portuguese architect Alvara Siza Viera, who was asked to build a site specific work behind the Arsenale. In his remarks, David Chipperfield noted that though Siza works in isolation, his work "exudes worldliness." The Japanese Pavilion was given the Golden Lion for Best National Pavilion. Their Pavilion featured a post-tsunami rebuilding project led by Toyo Ito. Pavilions by Russia, Poland, and the United States were all given special mentions. Wiel Arets, Robert A.M. Stern, Benedetta Tagliabue, and Alan Yentob served as jurors.
The Architect’s Newspaper is on the ground in Italy for the 2012 Venice Biennale. Here’s the second edition of a three-part series on the best of the Biennale, brought to you by The Architect’s Newspaperand Il Giornale Dell’Architettura. (View the first issue here.)
Director Henry Urbach just announced a program that will reintroduce fresh flowers into Philip Johnson's iconic Glass House in New Canaan, CT, where they've been missing seen since Johnson and his partner, David Whitney, passed away in 2005. The arrangements will be created by local designer Dana Worlock, using Whitney's original plant selection and archival photographs of the home's interior as inspiration. Meanwhile, AN is participating in this week's Glass House Conversations about themes in this year's Venice Biennale, especially the relationship between critical compliance as espoused by David Chipperfield and Spontaneous Intervention and as featured in the U.S. Pavilion. Share your thoughts through September 2nd. The Glass House 199 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT 06840 Open Thursday-Monday, 9:30a.m-5:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30.
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.
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.