We had the chance to sit down with Pedro Alonso, one of the curators of the Chilean pavilion “Monolith Controversies,” at the 2014 Venice Biennale, to learn more about the concept and inspiration behind the Silver Lion-winning pavilion. “We were interested in demonstrating that architects didn’t absorb modernity, but rather, they supplied it. The ones who absorbed it were the workers and the people,” Alonso told us, outside of a replica of a Chilean apartment – the entrance to the Pavilion. “The absorption of modernity has to do with the pieces we are exhibiting. For example, this apartment, the apartment of Mrs. Silvia Gutiérrez in Viña del Mar, which is an exact replica – object by object- of the 518 things that make up her living room.”
Enter Gutiérrez’s apartment and the rest of the Chilean pavilion in the full interview with Alonso. And don’t forget to check out additional pictures and text from the curators in our coverage of the pavilion here.
Architects: Studio MK27, 57STUDIO
Location: El Pangue, Zapallar, Valparaíso Region, Chile
Author: Marcio Kogan
Co Author: Renata Furlanetto, Maurizio Angelini, Benjamín Oportot
Project Team: Carlos Costa, Diana Radomysler, Laura Guedes, Maria Cristina Motta, Mariana Simas
Project Area: 460.0 m2
Project Year: 2013
Photography: Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
Although previously unknown except in his native Chile, architect Smiljan Radic has recently received international attention for his design of this year’s pavilion for London’s Serpentine Galleries. His latest and largest undertaking yet, a winery outside of Santiago, has been featured in this article by the New York Times. And now, his Mestizo Restaurant has been named one of the seven most outstanding 21st century projects in the Americas. If you’re unfamiliar with Radic’s unique works, we’ve compiled a round-up of some of our favorites for you to explore, including his Serpentine Pavilion, Copper House 2, the Mestizo Restaurant, a bus stop for the town of Krumbach, Austria, and his renovation of the Chilean Museum for Pre-Columbian Art. Enjoy!
“Plastic is an extremely durable material, taking 500 years to biodegrade, yet it’s designed to be used for an average of 5 minutes, and so it’s thrown away. Few know where this mass of junk will end up … in the oceans, killing and silently destroying everything, even us.”
Cristian Ehrmantraut has developed a prototype for a floating platform that filters the ocean and absorbs plastic. Located 4 km from the coast of Easter Island, close to the center of the mega-vortex of plastic located in the South Pacific, the tetrahedral platform performs a kind of dialysis, allowing the natural environment to be recovered as well as energy and food to be produced.
Elemental‘s design for Casa OchoQuebradas draws on the rugged landscape of its site, a cliff on the coast of Chile, to create a rugged, even primitive weekend house design of concrete volumes. Inspired by their idea that “a weekend house is ultimately a kind of retreat where people allowed themselves to suspend the conventions of life and go back to a more essential living,” the house is a simple composition which incorporates such features as a main room which can be opened up to the outdoors and a central open fire.
More on Casa OchoQuebradas after the break
Between 1931 and 1981, the Soviet Union exported a prefab concrete panel system for housing – whose development and exportation embodied the ideals of the modern movement – to countries around the world, creating more than 170 million apartments. In 1972, during the socialist government of Salvador Allende, the USSR donated a panel factory to Chile. The Chile KPD (an acronym derived from the Russian words for “large concrete panel”) produced a total of 153 buildings during its operation, before being shut down and forgotten during the military dictatorship.
The full story of the concrete panels produced in Chile had been buried in history, but research conducted by curators Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola for the Chile Pavilion has resurfaced the political, ideological and aesthetic implications of the panel. Monolith Controversies not only shows the technical aspects of a fundamental element of a prefab building system, but also demonstrates how it was connected to an ideology. Upon entering the Chile pavilion, visitors find themselves in the recreation of an interior of one of the apartments. Next they enter the main space, in which one concrete panel found by the curators stands as the representation of how modernity was absorbed in Chile.
In the Absorbing Modernity section of the Biennale, Koolhaas asked curators from all over the world to bring to light the ways modernism developed in their countries. The work done by the Chilean curators in the Monolith Controversies exhibition is one of the best examples of this call, recognized by the jury with the Silver Lion. Read on for the curator’s statement.