Venice Biennale 2012: Feeling at Home

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

This exhibition, curated by London-based Sergison Bates Architects, explores the common spaces between the public city and the private room. It considers six recent social housing projects in six cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva, Paris, Trondheim and Winterthur. The work, by six different practices, reveals an interconnected culture of thought and practice, a common ground of influence and affinities that extends back to past practitioners and typological precedent.

Venice Biennale 2012: Macedonia Pavilion

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

How to think about today’s architecture, captured in the pragmatic flows of changing society? Can architecture once more be captivating, romantic, humanistic, visionary, and everyday at the same time? It appears that today’s architecture is becoming increasingly complex and ambiguous, and thus increasingly manipulative. It is lost in the cloud of the everyday. But how can architecture be seen again in its elementary correlations, geometry, form, use? To be derived from the specific, idiosyncratic, everyday, and face the timeless, resistant level. How to find the vertical of the everyday? The everyday that makes sense only if it is reflected in the sublime. More from exhibitor Metamak – Architectural Collective after the break.

Venice Biennale 2012: Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank HQ / Foster & Partners

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

From the architects: The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank was designed by Norman Foster in 1979. At the core of the project is the attempt to create a civic space, a piece of common ground for the city. Though the building’s design went through many variations – culminating in the final scheme, completed in 1985 – the common denominator throughout was a desire to create a public arena by lifting the building up to ensure a flow of pedestrian movement across the site. This covered space is lit naturally by an external “sunscoop”, which reflects sunlight down through the glazed “underbelly” of an atrium at the heart of the building. Through the medium of models, sketches, drawings, and photographs, this exhibition shows the evolution of the design of the space and the tower that defines it.

Venice Biennale 2012: Five North American Architects / Kenneth Frampton

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Almost two years ago, on November 13th 2010, I had the chance to attend to a very special seminar to celebrate the 80th birthday of Kenneth Frampton at Columbia’s GSAPP. During that intense day, five north american practices presented their work followed by an interesting debate: Rick Joy Architects, Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects, Patkau Architects, Steven Holl, and Shim Sutcliffe Architects. For the 13th Venice Biennale, Kenneth Frampton was invited to have his exhibit at the Arsenale, where the works of these five practices was presented on a series of videos, on a simple installation designed by Steven Holl. While we don’t have the videos shown during the Biennale, we present you the full video of the seminar (almost 6 hours), made available online by the GSAPP.

Venice Biennale 2012: Museum of Copying / FAT

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Venice Biennale 2012: Ukraine Pavilion

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Curated by Alexander Ponomarev and Olilga Milentiy, the Ukraine Pavilion presents mobile museums projects under the concept of “Mirage Architecture”. The exhibition focuses on a conceptual design for a Museum of Contemporary Arts in the Antarctic. “In order to build new Utopia, there is no need to raze the world. There are still places on Earth with clean, free spaces, offering room for cooperation and co-creation. On of these places is the Antarctic”, says Milentiy. Learn the story behind the ukrainian pavilion after the break

Venice Biennale 2012: VOID / Rintala Eggertsson Architects

In Western thinking the notion of void, or emptiness is a usually considered a negative state of affairs, absence or lack of something. As an existential term emptiness, coupled with our contemporary condition with unforeseen wealth, is associated with the sensation of uneasiness and alienation in the midst of our plenty. This spiritual emptiness may be filled on its surface with busyness and entertainment, cultural hipness and formal styles. This obsessive behavior or fear of emptiness, well exploited by commercial interests, is a trap that enforces us to produce, to consume and to fill the seemingly meaningless gaps, rather than allowing things to evolve in a natural and sustainable way.

Venice Biennale 2012: GREENHOUSE TALK interviews leading architects

As we announced earlier, Pritzker Prize Laureate Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture (China), Rahul Mehrotra of RMA architects (India) and Francine Houben of Mecanoo (The Netherlands) participated in GREENHOUSE TALK at the 2012 Venice Biennale. The informal discussion focused on the current reality of design culture in the great countries of Eastern Asia and Europe.The video begins with an introduction (in Italian) by architect and Senior curator of MAXXI Roma, Pippo Ciorra, which then leads into some fascinating commentary (in English, with Italian subtitles) by the highlighted protagonists.The GREENHOUSE TALK event was promoted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rome, in collaboration with MAXXI and NAi. 

Venice Biennale 2012: O'Donnell + Tuomey

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Vessel is a site-specific response to the theme of Common Ground – a wooden structure, composed of a stacked planks, that works in conversation with the layered brick construction of the Arsenale. Irish architects O’Donnell +  Tuomey have created a contemplative space,  hollowed out of solid matter, that is at once a light funnel, a lantern chamber, and a passage. 

Venice Biennale 2012: Thailand Pavilion

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

The Thailand Pavilion, titled “Common Collage”, presents 100 ideas that can provide people with a common ground. The exhibition, curated by Apiradee Kasemsook, Nuttinee Karnchanarporn and Tonkao Panin, presents 40 boxes of equal size, volume and weight. The boxes were designed by different Thai architecture firms, designers, lecturers and students. Each one intends to speak within its own logic. See more pictures of the Thailand Pavilion after the break

Venice Biennale 2012: Facecity / C+S Architects

© Pino Musi

© Pino Musi


C+S Architects‘ contribution, Facecity, for the 2012 Venice Biennale, gives form to the idea of the curator, Fulvio Irace, of continuity in architecture. The exhibition reconsiders the architecture of Milan in the 50s and 60s, where architects, belonging to different generations and with different positions, built the identity of the city without giving up their personal poetics. The central topic of this thought is the facade, commented by Alberto Savinio in Ascolto il tuo cuore città, 1945: ” …On the facade of buildings is not only written their date of birth, but also written the moods, the manners, the most secret thoughts of their time…, together with the flat window, theorized by Gio Ponti as the way to shape modernity.” Continue after the break for more. 

Venice Biennale 2012: 13178 Moran Street

Grounds for Detroit – In this collaborative project, a distinct urban space – the mid-block of residential neighborhood – has been imported to Venice from Detroit. The installation is a recreation – and re-imagining – of a project undertaken in a abandoned single-family house in Detroit 2010. In the original work, five architects collectively bought a property on Moran Street for $500 cash at a public auction. Each practice then contracted a distinct intervention within its formerly domestic spaces: a kitchen was transformed into a mobile threshold; a bedroom into a hermetic multi-sensory chamber; the dinning room a stepped interior topography; and the detached garage became a atmospheric observatory.

Venice Biennale 2012: Álvaro Siza. Viagem sem Programa

© Andrea Piovesan
© Andrea Piovesan

Álvaro Siza. Viagem sem Programa, on display at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia through the duration of the Venice Biennale, narrates the most personal aspects of Álvaro Siza’s work in architecture and his concept of life. In response to Siza being announced as the recipient of the 2012 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, curators Greta Ruffino and Raul Betti, along with organizer MedicinaMentis Cultural Association, began to work closely with the Portuguese master to put together this one-of-a-kind retrospective. The exhibition features an exclusive collection of 53 works, personally selected by the architect himself, that were developed from travel notes and sketches, along with a 38-minute video interview. Continue after the break for more images of Álvaro Siza. Viagem sem Programa and check out our previous coverage for more information.

Venice Biennale 2012: Ruta del Peregrino

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Each year, two million Mexican residents take part in the Ruta del Peregrino (Pilgrim’s Route) – a 117 kilometer pilgrimage through the mountains range of Jalisco that is centered around the adoration to the Virgin of Talpa. This religious voyage has been taking place since the 17th century and represents the pilgrim’s act of faith carried to penitence. In an effort to provide the  route with better conditions, nine architecture firms collaborated  to build seven architectural landmarks that provide shelter, services and outlook points for the pilgrims. The Master Plan, designed by Tatiana Bilbao, Derek Dellekamp and Rozana Montiel, was presented in a special exhibition  to resonate with the Venice Biennale 2012 theme “Common Ground”. The nine practices involved since the start of the project are Ai Weiwei (Fake Design), Luis Aldrete Arquitectos, Tatiana Bilbao, Christ & Gantenbein, Dellekamp Arquitectos, Alejandro Aravena (Elemental), Godoylab, HHF Architects, and Rozana Montiel (Periférica). Read more about the route of the pilgrim and see more pictures after the break. 

Venice Biennale 2012: Feel the Ground. Wall House: One to One / Anupama Kundoo

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

ArchDaily is proud to present images from the 2012 Venice Biennale featuring the reconstruction of Anupama Kundoo’s Wall House. The installation is an opportunity for the architect to reassess intial strategies and continue to explore the experiments of the original construction in Auroville, India. The replica was built by Indian craftspeople and Italian builders. The original design for the house aimed to respond to the environment and culture in which it is situated, taking into consideration construction techniques, material applications, and site strategies. The reconstruction, though absent from a landscape, displays spatial innovation and a collaborative use of materials that evokes an excitement about the integration of culture and structural techniques. Join us after the break for images from the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Venice Biennale 2012: Switzerland Pavilion

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

After being nominated to represent Switzerland at the 2012 architecture biennale in Venice, architect and university professor Miroslav Šik decided to join forces with two other swiss firms -Knapkiewicz + Fickert from Zurich and Miller & Maranta from Basel- with whom he has been working together for many years. They have created what they call “an ensemble and atmosphere approach to urban architecture”, and decided to illustrate these concepts by putting together images of their own buildings and projects to create a collage-style exhibition. See more pictures and read the architect’s description of the pavilion after the break: