Venice Biennale 2012: The Piranesi Variations / Peter Eisenman

15:00 - 31 August, 2012
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

14:36 - 31 August, 2012
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. Crane.tv 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

18:00 - 30 August, 2012
Venice Biennale 2012: Originaire / China Pavilion, "Sequence" by Shao Weiping © Nico Saieh
"Sequence" by Shao Weiping © Nico Saieh

From the curator Fang Zhenning:

Koolhaas to be the Biennale's next Director?

17:49 - 30 August, 2012
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

17:30 - 29 August, 2012
© 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

17:00 - 29 August, 2012
© 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.

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

14:30 - 29 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© 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
© 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.

Kazuyo Sejima appointed as Rolex’s first architecture mentor

15:00 - 29 August, 2012
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

12:50 - 29 August, 2012
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

20:00 - 28 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

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.

La ciudad socializante vs la ciudad alienante is aimed for the general audience, not just the architects, presenting a series of graphic-chromatic notes and sketches by Domenico Silvestro, who was very kind and showed us the pavilion. You can see him on the photos below.

Venice Biennale 2012: Radix / Aires Mateus

18:00 - 28 August, 2012
© 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

11:30 - 28 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

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.

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Through these projects they discovered that close studies at the level of the detail create moments of complex interchange, both literal and historical, disciplinary and existential. The details presented here are wall sections, the interface between interior and exterior. This minimal one has always been contested: the twentieth century strove for a transparent boundary that could expose interior through psychoanalysis, while the twenty-first century attempts to erase that boundary through virtual space. And so these five pairs of “totems” express common technical and tectonic concerns even as they mark the historical transition of architecture from the pas, through the present, into the future.

The exhibit consists of 10 detailed sections of major architects such as: Frank Lloyd wright, Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Marcel Breuer, and Paul Rudolph.

More photos after the break.

A History of the Venice Architecture Biennale

08:30 - 28 August, 2012
The Corderie at the Arsenale © ArchDaily
The Corderie at the Arsenale © ArchDaily

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.

Before the festivities of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale begin tomorrow, read up on the origin of this highly acclaimed international exhibition.

A timeline history of the Venice Architecture Biennale:

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

19:00 - 27 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

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.

In response, the German contribution to the 13th Venice Architecture BiennaleReduce/Reuse/Recycle, presents sixteen strategies that demonstrate the high degree of creative and architectural potential inherent in an affirmative approach to built architecture.

Continue after the break to learn more.

Venice Biennale 2012: Possible Greenland / Denmark Pavilion

18:00 - 27 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

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.

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

It is interesting to see how global warming is making Greeland a new center, as water around can now be navigable. But we have been warned. While 38 billions worth of oil can be exploted in the area, a disaster can cost way higher (the Deepwater Horizon spill costed 60 billion). The exhibitions approaches every angle to think about the possible future of Greenland. Visitors are exposed to all this facts in a series of diagrams, projects and videos, including a traditional Greenland house with smoked fishes which give the exhibit a particular atmosphere.

More details about this exhibition can be found in our previous article. More photos after the break:

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

16:20 - 27 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

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.

The exhibit is is supported by thin wooden supports, holding drawings, diagrams and video displays. Great examples from a country where pedestrians are taking more space than cars. This takes place at the Korean Pavilion at the Giardini, designed by Seok Chul Kim and Franco Mancuso in 1995.

Venice Biennale 2012: Croatian Pavilion

15:00 - 27 August, 2012
'Unmediated Democracy demands Unmediated Space' - Courtesy of Pulska grupa
'Unmediated Democracy demands Unmediated Space' - Courtesy of Pulska grupa

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.

The Croatian pavilion focuses on how these demands could allow us to imagine the configuration of possible unmediated spaces. It is organized around three sections: Context, Map and Devices.

Continue reading for more details.

Venice Biennale 2012: Migrating Landscapes / Canada Pavilion

14:59 - 27 August, 2012
© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

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.

The installation uses pieces of unfinished wood in different sizes, a wooden landscape, where each of the participants “fit” their projects and a panel with a short video. A mix between the roughness of the wood, and the precision you can achieve with this material. My favorite? The Pickle House.

You can find more details about this exhibit in our previous article. More photos by ArchDaily after the break, and soon an interview with the curators!