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Venice Biennale 2012: CANCHA – Chilean Soilscapes / Chile Pavilion

© Nico Saieh

Cancha is a pre-hispanic Quechuan word that indicates a void that enables connections with our ground as well as among people. In urban terms, it is similar to the Spanish Plaza Mayor – the word is used in South America to designate an open space where the harvest is measured and distributed. Cancha is also the field for the ancient game of Palín, traditional of the Chilean Mapuches. Then, Cancha is the word used to comprehend the Chilean Ground, a common ground, which is not urban but territorial.

© Nico Saieh

The Cancha is established over a salt soil, taken straight from the Chilean desert, including three salt rocks that visitors can use to sit on. Floating over this soil, a series of boxes display the seven points of view from seven Chilean architects invited by the curators to think, discuss, and propose material in the context of the global relevance of the Biennale, to “think” from its ground in this critical moment of social change.

The invited architects and their visions are Pedro Alonso (Deserta), Elemental (Metropolitan Promenade), Susuka (Limitless Chile), Genaro Cuadros (Playground), Germán del Sol (Kancha), Iván Ivelic (Travesies of the Amereida) and Rodrigo Tisi (Performances of Conquest). Chilean artists Pedro Pulido & Iván Navarro created the Neon sculpture.

The videos used to represent the visions of the seventh architects were filmed and directed by Estudio Palma.

More photos and information about the curators after the break:
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Venice Biennale 2012: The Magnet and the Bomb / ELEMENTAL

© Nico Saieh

An installation highly commented by the visitors of the Vernissage of the Biennale. The Magnet and the Bomb presents two projects from the based practice Elemental, lead by Alejandro Aravena. These projects are urban interventions that were required for specific social issues, that have required a common ground between several stakeholders. A ticking clock bomb counts down at the entrance of the exhibit, that will last the 100 days fo the Biennale, around the same time that both these projects took.

The projects are presented over big walls of unfinished wood, with projections over them. Each project timeline appear on a wall, carved in the case of Constitución (view the PRES Constitución project), and as a series of cards inserted into slots for Calama (view the Calama Plus project).

© Nico Saieh

Chile is facing a big challenge, as the income has tripled in less than a decade, yet inequalities have remained intact. This is creating popular discontent that is accumulating pressure like a social time bomb. Equally, in order to maintain growth and remain competitive at a global level, the country must attract and retain knowledge creators. Presented here are the projects where architects were required to respond to these profound dilemmas.

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Venice Biennale 2012: Light Houses, On the Nordic Common Ground / Nordic Pavilion

© Nico Saieh

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nordic Pavilion designed by Pritzker laureate Sverr Fehn in 1962, “Light Houses: On the Nordic Common Ground” invites 32 architects from Finland, Sweden and Norway born in that year to present a model of a conceptual house that reflects their philosophy. The models not only offer a visual proposal, but some also include smells, sounds or tactile experiences.

© Nico Saieh

Contemporary Nordic architectural culture offers both exemplary approaches and significant constructed works addressing these challenging circumstances. The classic hallmarks of Nordic architecture – simplified form, frugal use of materials and sensitive treatment of daylight and the natural setting – embody the basic principles of responsible, sustainable architecture.

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Kazuyo Sejima appointed as Rolex’s first architecture mentor

, Mentor © Takashi Okamoto

News from the 2012 Venice Biennale: Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima has been appointed as the first architecture mentor for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Initiative – a unique program that pairs major artists with young talents. Recognized as “one of the most important creative disciplines”, architecture has added as the seventh category in the Rolex’s global philanthropy program, which already includes literature, music, visual arts, dance, film and theatre.

Kazuyo Sejima is expected to announce her protégé in the Fall. She and the young architect will collaborate for a year on the international project Home For All, which she established with other leading Japanese architects – Toyo Ito, Riken Yamamoto, Hiroshi Naito and Kengo Kuma – in response to the 2011 housing crisis caused by Japan’s devastating tsunami.

The idea will be to design community meeting spaces for people who are living in emergency accommodation. Continue after the break to learn more.

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Venice Biennale 2012: i-city / Russia Pavilion

© Nico Saieh

The first national pavilion that we visited was the pavilion, curated by Sergei Tchoban. The exhibit, designed by SPEECH Techoban / Kuznetsov (Sergei Tchoban, Sergey Kuznetsov, Marina Kuznetskaya, Agniya Sterligova), showcases the Strolkovo Innovation Center, a new development that aims to concentrate intellectual capital around five clusters (IT, Biomed, Energy, Space, Nuclear Tech), with projects by David Chipperfield, SANAA, OMA, Herzog & de Meuron, Stefano Boeri, SPEECH, Valode & Pistre architectes and Mohsen Mostafavi among others (more details about the project itself in a future article).

An interesting project, presented in detail with tons of information, yet invisible inside the space of the pavilion. A series of QR Codes wrap the inside of the Russia pavilion spaces,  and all you can sense at first is light and space. At the entrance you are provided with a tablet, and you walk around the pavilion scanning these codes to obtain the information about Strolkovo.

© Patricia Parinejad

On the lower level, a dark interior is perforated with peep holes that show images of former Soviet Scientific Towns, a legacy from the past that serves as background of the Strolkovo project.

What we liked about this pavilion is the fact that technology is used as a medium, and what prevails is light and space, a particular atmosphere that wraps you in information, in an intangible way.

This pavilion was awarded with a Special Mention at the Biennale, “the ‘i-city’ takes a dialectic approach to Russia’s past, present and future and in the process turns us all into digital spies. The jury was drawn into this magical mystery tour and beguiled by its visual presentation.”

We had the chance to interview Sergei Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov, we will post the video later on.More photos by architectural photographer Patricia Parinejad (who will be featured in our next AD Photographers series) and Nico Saieh after the break:

Mediatheek Delft / Dok Architecten

Courtesy of ; © Arjen Schmitz

Architecture Firm: Dok Architekten
Architect: Liesbeth van der Pol
Location:  centrum--Vesteplein 100-2611 WG , The Netherlands
Design Team: P. Cannon, M. Hardonk, R. Bos, A. Koch, A. Derksen
Client: Gemeente Delft 
Photographer: Arjen Schmitz 

   

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Venice Biennale 2012: Awards ceremony, big winners: Alvaro Siza, Japan and Urban Think Tank

Toyo Ito, curator of the Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion for the National Pavilions

A few minutes ago we attended to the awards ceremony at the Biennale, after which it opened officially to the public (until Nov 25th).

David Chipperfield, director of the 13th Biennale, and Paolo Baratta, president of the Biennale, presented the awards for Lifetime Achievement, National Participations and International Participations.

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement was already announced, and it went to Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza. Alvaro couldn’t attend the ceremony due to a broken arm, so Ines Lobo, curator of the Portuguese pavilion, accepted the award on his behalf.

Urban Think Tank and Justin McGuirk, Golden Lion for International Exhibition

For the National pavilions, the jury decided to give three mentions: Poland, and USA. The Golden Lion was awarded to the Japan Pavilion, with the exhibit “Architecture, possible here? Home-for-All” curated by Toyo Ito, with the participation of Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto, Akihisa Hirata and Naoya Hatakeyama. Toyo Ito dedicated the award to the victims of the tsunami.

As for the International Exhibitions, the special mention went to Cino Zucchi, the Silver Lion to Grafton Architects, and the Golden Lion to “Torre David / Gran Horizonte”, the installation by Urban-Think Tank, Justin McGuirk and Iwan Baan.

More photos after the break.

Kukkula Winery / Studio B Architects

© Derek Skalko

Architects: Studio B Architects
Location: , , USA
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Derek Skalko

Video: Andy Sturgeon / Gardener Profile


Award-winning landscape gardener, Andy Sturgeon, creates natural spaces with a strong design aesthetic. One of the top ten landscape designers in the UK, we talk to Andy about the ways in which he works with nature and is inspired by other forms of design outside his field. Crane.tv travels to Surrey to visit one of his current projects – a private garden halfway through the building process.

Why Spain’s Crisis Is the End of An Era

Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao inspired cities across Spain to get their own “Guggenheim,” many of which now stand empty/unfinished in the light of the country’s economic crisis. Photo via Flickr User CC Txanoduna

’s ripples have reached far. We, in the midst of a veritable architecture meltdown, can attest to that. But even our situation can’t compare to Spain’s, a country where “the mother of all housing bubbles” meant the Recession didn’t just land – it tsunami-ed onto her shores.

The metaphor may seem overblown, but it’s not so far off. Spain, a country that once stuffed its cities with show-stopping cultural centers, airports, and municipal buildings, has been shocked still.The new Spain is populated with empty high-rises, half-finished “starchitecture,” and plans gathering dust. A quarter of its architects are out of work and about one half of its studios have closed their doors.

Spain, once a beacon for architects across the globe, has hit a standstill.  For the first time in decades, thousands of architects are fleeing its shores. So what does this mean for architecture in Spain – and the world? Has the Recession signified the end of an era? Has the torch of architectural innovation been passed?

In a word? Yes.

Exclusive insight from some of Spain and ’s acclaimed architects, after the break…

Edogawa Garage Club Renovation / Jun’ichi Ito Architect & Associates

© Naoomi Kurozu

Architects: Jun’ichi Ito Architect & Associates
Location: Edogawa, ,
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Naoomi Kurozu

Video: Empire State of Pen / Patrick Vale

We found this great short video by London-based illustrator, artist and animator Patrick Vale.  The Manhattan perspective is taken from the Empire State Building looking south toward the new development of the Freedom Tower.  The Flat Iron building lies in the foreground, while the Brooklyn and  Verrazzano Bridges anchor the eastern edge with Jersey City’s Goldman Sachs Tower flank the western edge. After marveling at the final illustration at the end of the time-lapse clip, we were hooked and wanted to see more of Vale! Check out more illustrations by Vale – including great ones of Florence and London – after the break.

Which is your favorite?

Nike Camp Victory / Skylab Architecture

Courtesy of and Hush Studio

Architects: Skylab Architecture
Location: , Oregon, USA
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Courtesy of Skylab Architecture and Hush Studios

© Alexandre Braleret
© Alexandre Braleret

Iceberg Trading Post / Alexandre Braleret

With Greenland’s glaciers turning into icebergs, this could be considered as a sustainable motive force for Greenland economy by reactivating “white gold rush”. In response to this, the Iceberg Trading Post project, by Alexandre Bralerest…, proposes icebergs as mass

Juso Continuing Care Unit / SARAIVA + ASSOCIADOS

© João Morgado

Architects: SARAIVA + ASSOCIADOS
Location: Aldeia de Juso, ,
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: João Morgado

Courtesy of RMC Architects & Engineers
Courtesy of RMC Architects & Engineers

National Museum of Afghanistan Proposal / RMC Architects & Engineers

Designed by, RMC (Raafat Miller Consulting) Architects & Engineers…, their proposal for the National Museum of Afghanistan aims to best represent the heritage and the people of the country through a practical, innovative and enduring physical plan. This building

Housing Building at C/ Fontana / Duch-Pizá Arquitectos

Courtesy of Duch-Pizá Arquitectos

Architects: Duch-Pizá Arquitectos
Location: ,
Main Collaborator: Claudio Hernández
Technical Architect: Oscar Menendez
Collaborators: G. Riveron, P. Skytta
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Duch-Pizá Arquitectos

© Thilo Folkerts
© Thilo Folkerts

Update: Jardin de la Connaissance / 100Landschaftsarchitektur

Established in June 2010, 100Landschaftsarchitektur… shared with us the current status of Jardin de la Connaissance which is still up and thriving. With the knowledge truly disappearing into the forest, the book structures have decayed in the natural setting, but