The British Pavilion presents the work of ten architectural teams who travelled the world in search of imaginative responses to universal issues. Venice Takeaway charts their course in Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Thailand, and the USA, and demonstrates the creative potential of sharing ideas across borders. The exhibition presents the work of more than twenty-six practicing architects, curators, academics, filmmakers, and writers who were selected by a scientific committee following an open call for ideas.
From curators Vanessa Norwood and Vicky Richardson: Venice Takeaway examines themes that are of significance in both the UK and other parts of the world. By shedding light on alternative modes of practice, the exhibition demonstrates the common ground of architects internationally. Themes include the design of schools, provision of housing, urban development, planning, risk consciousness, and the competition system. One issue considered by several participants is the role of the architect and the profession’s relationship to the public.
The depth and insightfulness of the contributors’ research is a reminder that the practice of architecture is as much about observation and thinking as it is about design. Research takes a highly specific form in order to understand the relationship between the local context and the general condition of architecture. Subjects range from a detailed study of the career of one particular architect in Japan to a system of standardised schools in Rio de Janeiro and a floating community in the Netherlands. The result is an archive that includes hours of interview footage, thousands of photographs, detailed drawings and objects.
The exhibition itself presents two distinct atmospheres: an ‘emporium of ideas’ where the participants’ research archives are displayed; and a set of polemical proposals for the UK in the form of installations and objects. Our hope is that the proposals will influence debate in the UK, provide an injection of fresh ideas and open up international dialogue. The research archives will be published online and in an accompanying catalogue, forming a resource that others can draw on in the future.
Venice Takeaway responds to Biennale Director David Chipperfield’s theme of Common Ground by identifying imaginative and ambitious ways to negotiate the challenges of making architecture. The process of working on this exhibition has reinforced our belief in the importance of mobility across borders, openness to new ideas and an international approach to shared problems. We would like to express our gratitude to the Venice Takeaway participants who have undertaken their investigations with the leadership, determination and resilience of great explorers. We are convinced that their proposals will have a positive impact on British architecture in years to come.