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Nico Saieh

Architect and Architectural Photographer based in Santiago, Chile

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The Empowerment of Aesthetics: Denmark's Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

Denmark's exhibition for the 2014 Venice Biennale focuses on the country's history as a pioneer in the development of a welfare state, and the role that architecture, in connection with art, literature and science had in creating an aesthetic manifestation of this 'better life for all'. By exploring the output of a range of fields in connection to a wider social movement, Empowerment of Aesthetics comes to a fuller understanding of how modernity affected architecture in Denmark.

Ideal/Real: The Argentine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The Argentine pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale analyzes modernity in terms of the IDEAL and the REAL by looking at how the country has used “ideal” modern ideas to construct the reality of its cities.

The curators, Emilio Rivoira and Juan Fontana, structured the exhibit around eight periods, selecting cinema clips to represent the ideal and the real. 

Enjoy photos from the pavilion and read the description from the curators after the break. 

Rem Koolhaas' "Elements": Uncovering Architecture's Origins, Assuring Its Future

ArchDaily has been asking architects "What is Architecture?" for over 6 years. It's a question that few interviewees answer without hesitation or bristling. But after asking over 200 architects, we've noticed a pattern: even though many people start very similarly, the answers soon diverge in a way that demonstrates the promise of the profession. And no matter how architecture is defined, the strong majority of architects hold an underlying belief in its ability to influence. 

When the ArchDaily team visited the Venice Biennale and entered the Central Pavilion of the Giardini, home to the Elements exhibition, we saw it as a dynamic, immersive, exhaustive response to the question "What is Architecture?" Visitors to the Biennale are introduced to architecture through its elements--the pieces, parts and fundamentals that comprise built structures around the globe. 

When Koolhaas chose to focus on Elements, he produced a text (in both book and exhibition format) that gives us the tools to understand what architecture is and how is it has evolved (or stagnated). Even though he didn't invite people to show projects in the traditional sense, the AD editors saw a hopeful undertone to Elements -- it is a resource that can be revisited over and over again, one that will arm the current and future designers of our built world with the knowledge they'll need to address the issues they have yet to even confront.

After the break, see images of the exhibition and read Koolhaas' curatorial statement. 

Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Library of Historial Elemental Studies of Architecture. Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh

Craftsmanship: Material Consciousness - Inside Indonesia’s Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014

At its debut at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, Indonesia offers a peek into the country’s past 100 years of architectural history in its pavilion: “Craftsmanship: Material Consciousness.” Moving images projected onto glass panels tell Indonesia’s story through the development of six materials, traced over time: wood, stone, brick, steel, concrete and bamboo. See images of the pavilion and enjoy a statement from the curators after the break.

Inside "Open: A Bakema Celebration" - The Dutch Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

"We consider Bakema not so much an architect of buildings, but an architect of a new idea of what Holland could be--a new national identity, a new national landscape…with an architect in the center of this particular ambition." - Guus Beumer, co-curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the 14th Venice Biennale

Guus Beumer and Drik van den Heuvel, curators of "Open: A Bakema Celebration," sat down to speak with us about this year's Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. With the help of graphic designers Experimental Jetset, Beumer and van den Heuvel created an emblematic, stripped-down, research-focused display of a particularly Dutch idea: the "Open Society." This was all conveyed within and around a 1:1 model of architect Jaap Bakema's Lijnbaan Shopping Centre (Rotterdam 1954), constructed within the Netherlands Pavilion. 

The hope, as Dirk van den Heuvel explains, is that "the elements of Bakema...may be useful, inspiring for our own practices today. Elements that he developed in questions to housing, planning, modernizing… I think when you come here you will recognize that there's lots of affinities, interesting things that we still work with and that we will work with in the future."

After you watch the video, make sure to read the curator's statement, and see images of the pavilion, after the break.

Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh

Fogo Natural Park Venue / OTO

  • Architects: OTO
  • Location: Fogo, Cape Verde
  • Project Team: André Castro Santos, Miguel Ribeiro de Carvalho, Nuno Teixeira Martins, Ricardo Barbosa Vicente
  • Area: 3200.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

© Fernando Guerra | FG + SG © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

China's Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014: Mountains Beyond Mountains

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

From the Curators. By making space the manifestation of content and content an insight of the space, space and content are correlated in the China Pavilion in that content provides an explicit timeline of China’s 100 years’ of architectural thinking (dual theme threads), while space presents an implicit theme of Yi Xiang (imagery-scape) through the history of Chinese architecture.

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

"Visibility (Imposed Modernity)" - Kosovo's Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

"Poi piovve dentro a l'alta fantasmi." ("Then rained down within the high fantasy...") Dante Alighieri (Purgatorio XVII.25)

From the Curators. Kosovo has never absorbed modernity. Modernity has been a synonym of destruction and foreign aesthetics.

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Herzog & de Meuron, & Atelier Bow-Wow's "Stroll Through a Fun Palace" - Switzerland's Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2014

"We often invent the future with elements from the past."

From the Curators. Within the Biennale’s context of re-examining the fundamentals of architecture over the past century, the Swiss Pavilion focuses on the English architect Cedric Price (1925–2003) and the Swiss sociologist Lucius Burckhardt (1934–2003), two great visionaries whose work resonates with and continues to inspire the new generations of the 21st century.

Both were serial inventors. The trans-disciplinary cultural centre designed by Price, Fun Palace, for example, which was never realized, is emblematic of our own era. It lends itself more to the choreography of 21st century time-based exhibitions than to the object-based displays of the 20th century; it fosters a more communal experience, largely free to operate outside its material limits, and ventures into other realms of human experience. In Price’s own words, “a 21st century museum will utilize calculated uncertainty and conscious incompleteness to produce a catalyst for invigorating change whilst always producing the harvest of the quiet eye”.1

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

"Forms of Freedom: African Independence and Nordic Models" - The Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

From the Curators. The exhibition at the Nordic Pavilion has been titled FORMS OF FREEDOM: African Independence and Nordic Models. The exhibition explores and documents how modern Nordic architecture was an integral part of Nordic aid to East Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. The resulting architecture is of a scope and quality that has not previously been comprehensively studied or exhibited.

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

The "Urban Interior" of Jimenez Lai's Biennale Pavilion for Taiwan

UPDATE: We've added our interview with Jimenez Lai.

Jimenez Lai
, leader of Bureau Spectacular and curator of Taiwan's Pavilion for the 2014 Venice Biennale, claims that "domesticity is possibly one of the origins of architecture" and that "the standardization of the domestic program was...a very modern development." Thus, Lai built nine single-program houses within the Palazzo della Prigioni, each dedicated to one specific domestic act--such as sleeping, eating, etc. The result is a vibrant, colorful response to Rem Koolhaas' unifying theme: "Absorbing Modernity."

Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan, delves into the part-to-whole relationship and political implications of our domestic lives. But Lai also believes that, from this relationship, we can learn something about the way that cities function. See more images from the exhibition and read on for the curator's statement.

House of Social Dining. Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan. Image © Nico Saieh Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan. Image © Nico Saieh House of Alchemy. Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan. Image © Nico Saieh House of Social Dining. Township of Domestic Parts: Made in Taiwan. Image © Nico Saieh

"Lest We Forget" - UAE's Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

From the Curators. Responding to the theme ‘Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014’ set by the curator of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, Rem Koolhaas, ‘Lest We Forget: Structures of Memory in the United Arab Emirates,’ presents the seminal findings of a larger initiative to archive the history of architectural and urban development in the UAE over the past century. With a concentrated emphasis on the 1970s-1980s, the exhibition examines how public and residential architecture, built within a rapidly expanding urban context, shaped the newly established federation and prepared the foundation for its emergence on a global stage.

"Places of Memory" - Turkey's Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

From the Curators. Rather than conducting a historical account of modern epoch in Turkey, presenting an exhaustive catalogue, or trying to capture its unique local attributes, “Places of Memory” attempts to explore the main theme of the biennial via perceptions and experiences.

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

"Unwritten" - Latvia's Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

From the Curators. The exposition with the project title Unwritten highlights issues regarding the perception, research, and conservation of Latvian post-War architecture. Unwritten chronicles, in fact, inexistent research on this.

Arena do Morro / Herzog & de Meuron

  • Architects: Herzog & de Meuron
  • Location: Rua Camaragibe - Mãe Luíza, Natal - Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
  • Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ascan Mergenthaler (Partner in Charge), Markus Widmer
  • Project Team: Tomislav Dushanov (Associate, Project Director), Mariana Vilela (Project Manager), Melissa Shin, Diogo Rabaça Figueiredo, Kai Strehlke (Digital Technologies), Edyta Augustynowicz (Digital Technologies), Daniel Fernández Florez
  • Client: Ameropa Foundation, Binningen, Switzerland, Centro Sócio Pastoral Nossa Senhora de Conceição, Natal, Brazil
  • Design Consultant: Herzog & de Meuron
  • Area: 1964.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan