Venice Biennale 2012: The Piranesi Variations / Peter Eisenman

Field of Dreams / Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture © Nico Saieh
Field of Dreams / Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture © Nico Saieh

Inspired by the 13th International Architecture Exhibition‘s theme Common Ground, Peter Eisenman has formed a team to revisit, examine and reimagine Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s 1762 folio collection of etchings, Campo Marzio dell’antica Roma. Derived from years of fieldwork spent measuring the remains of ancient Roman buildings, these six etchings depict Piranesi’s fantastical vision of what ancient Rome might have looked like and represent a landmark in the shift from a traditionalist, antiquarian view of history to the scientific, archaeological view.

Eisenman’s team consists of Eisenman Architects, students from Yale University, Jeffrey Kipnis with his colleagues and students of the Ohio State University, and Belgian architecture practice, Dogma. Each group has contributed a response to Piranesi’s work through models and drawings that stimulate discourse on contemporary architecture. In particular, they explore architecture’s relationship to the ground and the political, social, and philosophical consequences that develop from that relationship.

The Project of Campo Marzio / Yale University School of Architecture © Nico Saieh
The Project of Campo Marzio / Yale University School of Architecture © Nico Saieh

Described as “precise, specific, yet impossible”, Piranesi’s images have been a source of speculation, inspiration, research and contention for architects, urban designers and scholars since their publication 250 years ago. Continue after the break to learn more.

Video: 13th Venice Biennale / Venice Takeaway, the British

This year’s 13th Venice Architecture Biennale provided the backdrop to the British Pavilion’s Venice Takeaway exhibition. Commissioned by the British Council and curated by Vanessa Norwood and Vicky Richardson, Venice Takeaway responds to Biennale director David Chipperfield’s theme of Common Ground. The project began in April this year when ten teams went to ten countries to gather ideas to change British architecture. interviewed the ten teams, including Aberrant Architecture and Smout Allen, to hear about their findings and their proposals for the future of British architecture. The exhibition will run in Venice until 25 November 2013 before relocating to London where it will be housed at RIBA from 25 February-27 April 2012.

Venice Biennale 2012: Originaire / China Pavilion

From the curator Fang Zhenning:

Koolhaas to be the Biennale's next Director?

Hot on the heels of the Jencks Award, yet another accolade is rumored to be coming Rem Koolhaas‘ way. The claims are flying about the twitterverse: OMA’s Koolhaas will be the next Director of the Venice Biennale.

Venice Biennale 2012: CANCHA - Chilean Soilscapes / Chile Pavilion

© Nico Saieh
© 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
© 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” Chile 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:

Venice Biennale 2012: The Magnet and the Bomb / ELEMENTAL

© Nico Saieh
© 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 Chile 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
© 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.

Kazuyo Sejima appointed as Rolex’s first architecture mentor

Kazuyo Sejima, Mentor © Takashi Okamoto
Kazuyo Sejima, 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.

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

Toyo Ito, curator of the Japan Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion for the National Pavilions
Toyo Ito, curator of the Japan 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
Urban Think Tank and Justin McGuirk, Golden Lion for International Exhibition

For the National pavilions, the jury decided to give three mentions: Poland, Russia 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.

Venice Biennale 2012: Venezuela Pavilion

Venezuela’s participation at the 13th Venice Biennale is presented through a series of reflections about the urban situation – the city of the 21st century.

Venice Biennale 2012: Radix / Aires Mateus

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

In the exteriors of the Arsenale we found Radix, the installation designed by Portuguese office Aires Mateus (Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus), an elegant contemporary response to the architectural setting of the Biennale.

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

The installation recognises the nearby docks of the Arsenale designed by Jacopo Sansovino between 1568 and 1573, which is flanked by arched walkways that inspire this structure. Radix is an arch supported on three points with the fourth corner hanging over the water,  turning the otherwise massive steel structure into a lightweight balanced volume.

More pictures after the break.

Venice Biennale 2012: Dialogue in Details / Toshiko Mori

Curated by Toshiko Mori. All architecture must inevitably contend with history and gravity. These two forces are both fundamental and universal; to confront them is accordingly not only to take the crucial step in any attempt to reinvent the contemporary language of architect but to connect to a vast lineage of historical precedents, creating a platform for developing the discipline’s future as well as reflecting on its past. In Toshiko Mori’s case a series of dialogues with five American masters transpired from projects that required her to work next to, in addition to, or in reference to their creations.

A History of the Venice Architecture Biennale

For over a century, the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) has been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The avant-garde institution has remained at the forefront in the research and promotion of new artistic trends, while leading international events in the field of contemporary arts that are amongst the most important of their kind. Over the past thirty years, the Biennale has given growing importance to the Architecture Exhibition, which is still a young component of the Biennale considering that its first exhibition was held in 1975. Today, the Venice Biennale captures a multitude of interest from around the globe and attracts over 370,000 international visitors.

Venice Biennale 2012: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle / German Pavilion

Dealing with existing infrastructure has become the most important task facing German architects today. The greatest, most problematic challenge that lies ahead is the downsizing and conversion of postwar buildings, erected from 1950s to the 1970s, which are described as “too unsuitable, too slipshod, too inefficient to serve as housing in the future”. A complete reevaluation of not only of the structures themselves but also the social and historical implications of their unbuilt energy and resources is necessary in order to improve the urban fabric and achieve climatic goals.

Venice Biennale 2012: Possible Greenland / Denmark Pavilion

The Danish Pavilion for the 2012 Venice Biennale will feature a collaboration between Greenlandic and Danish Architects called “Possible Greenland”. The exhibition will address the current development of the Arctic Region as Greenland undergoes a shift towards political independence and business development in the midst of dramatic climate changes. “Possible Greenland” attempts to look optimistically at the climate changes that are causing ice melts throughout Greenland. The shifting planes result in the exposure of vast mineral resources that can kickstart new industries and allow new urban cultures to emerge.

Venice Biennale 2012: Walk in Architecture / Republic of Korea Pavilion

The pavilion aspires to shed new light onto the status of Korean Architecture allowing the outside world to acquire a deeper and more in-depth understanding of what is currently relevant in the field of architecture in the country. “Walk in Architecture” expresses an idea and at the same time its paradox; it treats architecture as a place or a subject, like “Walk in Venice” or “Walk in a forest”. Walk is a collective action which combines associations: when you walk you think, you meditate, you observe, you dream, you wonder.

Venice Biennale 2012: Croatian Pavilion

This year’s Croatian pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Exhibition presents different struggles currently taking place in various Croatian cities. The exhibition, Unmediated Democracy demands Unmediated Space, interprets the topic of common ground by directly asking the protagonists of those collective conflicts how they imagine a common future across and beyond market or state, private or public mediation. The “desires, constrains and potentials expressed in these sites of conflict” are a part of the wider wave of international protests that are demanding a real direct and unmediated democracy. The demands, gathered on the ground through a series of investigative interviews, form the basis for a possible planning strategy, while their resistance tactics become patterns that could shape a common territory.

Venice Biennale 2012: Migrating Landscapes / Canada Pavilion

We visited “Migrating Landscapes”, the installation at the Canada pavilion for the 13th Venice Biennale. This exhibit has been organized and curated by Winnipeg- based 5468796 Architecture and Jae-Sung Chon, who joined together for this project to form the Migrating Landscapes Organizer (MLO). MLO invited, through a national competition, young Canadian architects and designers from a wide range of cultural and educational backgrounds to create scale models of ‘dwellings’ and accompanying videos that draw on cultural memories.

Venice Biennale 2012: FAT presents ‘The Museum of Copying’

Invited by David Chipperfield, director of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, FAT has contributed an exhibition to the Arsenale titled The Museum of Copying. Responding to the curator’s theme of “Common Ground”, The Museum of Copying explores the idea of the copy in architecture as an important, positive and often surreal phenomenon. The exhibit will be centered around FAT’s installation, “The Villa Rotunda Redux” – a five meter high facsimile of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda that explores the Villa as both a subject and object of architectural copying.