Croatian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

© Courtesy of the Authors

Based on the idea of Mirage, described at the wikipedia as a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky, the team that designed the Croatian for the Venice Biennale decided to create a floating to present arts and architecture of at the Venice Biennale.

Following the same principles of a Fata Morgana, which is an unusual and very complex form of Mirage that can be seen in a narrow band right above the horizon, the Floating Pavilion is constructed on an existing barge with dimensions of 10m x 20m x 3m. It is designed by a group of 14 leading Croatian architects, who have made the recent Croatian architecture visible on the global scene. Instead of working in the usual formats of their practices and presenting speculative projects, they decided to work together on a single proposal and to have it constructed and towed toward its final destination in Venice right away. The pavilion structure is the barge’ cargo, welded from 30 tons of Q385 wire mesh in more than 40 layers of varying contours. The cargo presented here maps the process of intense interaction between architects working on the common project, their collaboration with the Croatian maritime industry, and the extraordinary act of architecture it produced. Please follow the pavilion’s maiden voyage across the Adriatic over here

© Courtesy of the Authors

Commissioner: Leo Modrčin
Participating architects: Saša Begović, Marko Dabrović, Igor Franić, Tanja Grozdanić, Petar Mišković, Silvije Novak, Veljko Oluić, Helena Paver Njirić, Lea Pelivan, Toma Plejić, Goran Rako, Saša Randić, Idis Turato, Pero Vuković, Tonči Žarnić
Organizer: Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka, Croatia

YouTube Preview Image

Time Schedule for August 28th 2010:

08:00 AM – 10:00 AM Towing trough Venice Lagoon to the Riva dei Sette Martiri
from 10:00 AM Mooring at the Riva dei Sette Martiri
02:30 PM Croatian Venue exhibition opening in Arsenale
06:30 PM Inauguration and opening of the Croatian floating pavilion at the Riva dei Sette Martiri

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The Pavilion

The floating pavilion is built on an existing barge with dimensions of 10m x 20m x 3m. The pavilion structure is in the form of a cargo of 32 tons of welded wire mesh, with more than 40 layers spaced so that they form a solid volume with approximate dimensions of 19m x 9m x 5,5m. Inside the volume is a carved out space shaped by varying contours that form the main space as well as protrusions and openings toward the outside. Almost invisible form a distance, the structure reveals itself with different densities of steel mesh, transparencies, and vision lines, forming stunning visual effects and experience of space by very simple means. The Croatian pavilion is towed by a tugboat from the shipyard in Kraljevica to the port of Rijeka, to be presented to the public on 21 August 2010, and on to Venice to be moored at the main pier during the opening of the Biennale.

floor plan & elevation

The Exhibition

Inside the Croatian exhibition space, the project documentation center has been set up in the form of cargo boxes printed with the records of the design process, the construction of the pavilion at the 280-year-old shipyard in Kraljevica, and its journey across the Adriatic. Lana Cavar and Narcisa Vukojević are responsible for graphic design of the exhibition, while Vjeran Šalomon made audio installation.

© Zelimir Grzancic

The Publication

Also as cargo, the project publication is presented in the form of 6 loose printed sheets with photo documentation, which when folded and bound make a 96 page book for everybody to take. The concept and the production of the publication is by Lana Cavar and Narcisa Vukojević. Marko Golub conducted the interviews.

axo 01
axo 02

The Authors

The authors of the project are 15 of the most distinguished Croatian architects of today, who through various practices and some of the most distinct buildings designed recently, are already recognized on the global architectural scene. They have established Croatian architecture as a relevant force. Here they have united into a single work team that has produced a common project and had it realized for the Croatian participation at La Biennale. Saša Begović, Marko Dabrović, Igor Franić,Tanja Grozdanić, Petar Mišković,Silvije Novak, Veljko Oluić, Helena Paver Njirić, Lea Pelivan, Toma Plejić,Goran Rako, Saša Randić, Idis Turato, Pero Vuković and Tonči Žarnić met in more than 20 work sessions and innumerable other meetings and site visits.

Cite: Baraona Pohl, Ethel. "Croatian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale" 25 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=74469>

27 comments

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Most of the authors of the crippled pavilion are professors at Split Faculty of Architecture

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Very nice effect! it reminds me a bit like aerogel, the blue smoke, so light and fuzzy. The only thing I don’t like is the ugly grey boat underneath.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This is thing is f-ing awesome. Best project and execution of an idea in ages..Now if they can ship it to my house…I live at: ….

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    one of the most exciting projects i have seen lately…almost organic.
    and it is truly – floating -.
    floating in a way that it’s not frequently, or i dare say, has never been seen in architecture before.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    What’s really unique is to have 15 independent architects collaborate and produce a result like this!

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i am truly amazed, this pops out anything seen before these days including the shanghai xpo

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Fata Morgana..Simply..Amazing! This surely will make people to keep an eye on Croatian architecture. Great job!!

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    so blurry, so good! one of the best projects i’ve seen in a long time!

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    What is truly amazing is that there is nowhere in the article mention of Croatian selector for the Biennale-architect Leo Modrcin, who conceived the whole project.Editors,editors?!

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    That is really stunning!

    what a pity that the swimming base is not that nice.

    the sculpture by itself it’s really really nice!

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    they went for “mirage” and they ended up with this incredible structure. simply beautiful!

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Definitely the most original pavilion I’ve seen so far!

    Too bad it collapsed just before the the opening of the Biennale, hopefully they can still fix it, the photos are ok, but really experiencing the pavilion would be much better..

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The idea is excellent, and also good interpretation….too bad that the construction wasn’t on the same level. As with all great projects, too many contra verses, problems…but at the end there is a thing to remember.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      great idea bad implementation…and not enough sheer strength of the structure

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    1- Why shooting down commenters who obviously were not aware of the collapse???
    2- I have few questions. I see so much people shouting at this incident like a crime was committed. So I’d like to know:

    - Was the pavilion opened to public at that time?
    - Have people been injured?
    - How do you know it’s architects fault, not another problem?
    - No one can say anymore that the idea was beautiful despite it ended in a tragic way?

    P.S.: I really miss access to some of the links provided above because of blocked websites where i live.