Venice Biennale 2012: Radix / Aires Mateus

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.

Venice Biennale 2012: Pasticcio / Caruso St. John

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Pasticcio, the exhibition curated by Caruso St John, invites a group of seven contemporary European architects from different countries and generations, whose practice in engaged with the language and the history of architecture, both recent and ancient. Their work tries to establish continuities with an architecture before modernism. The group is formed by BIQ stadsontwerp bvBovenbouw ArchitectuurHermann CzechHild und KKnapkiewicz Fickert, and Märkli Architekt. Themes include a consideration of proportion, ornament, typology, and interest in making interiors, in colour and in working with existing buildings, but the works are linked in spirit rather than in form or programme. The intention is to show how potent and diverse a contemporary architecture grounded in continuity and a common culture can be.

Venice Biennale 2012: Alvaro Siza

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Alvaro Siza, winner of the 13th Venice Biennale Lifetime Achievement, created this structure in the gardens of the Arsenale, right next to another structure by Eduardo Soto de Moura that we will feature on a separate article. This follows the longtime collaboration of the two Portuguese masters. Alvaro Siza’s structure establishes a relationship with a different aspect of Venice – that of the dense urban environment. Three faceted walls generate  two intimate spaces in the middle of the garden designed for the 12th Biennale in 2012 by Piet Oudolf, a tribute to the compact urban tissue of Venice, which frames particular views of the exteriors of the Arsenale. More photos after the break:

Venice Biennale 2012: Dialogue in Details / Toshiko Mori

© 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

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

© 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

© 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

© 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

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

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!

ArchDaily at the Venice Biennale 2012

Copyright: La Biennale di Venezia
Copyright: La Biennale di Venezia
CANCHA - Chilean Soilscapes, the Chile exhibit at the Arsenale. Co curated by Pilar Pinchart and Bernardo Valdes
CANCHA - Chilean Soilscapes, the Chile exhibit at the Arsenale. Co curated by Pilar Pinchart and Bernardo Valdes

During these days we’ve had the opportunity to visit and photograph several of the national pavilions and individual exhibits, and interview their curators. This coverage will start to be featured at ArchDaily in our dedicated page starting today. You can also follow us in real time in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@archdaily), where we have already uploaded part of our coverage. Please forward any comments, requests for meetings or  information related to the Biennale to editor@archdaily.com or using our contact form. More photos after the break.

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

Installation View - Courtesy of FAT
Installation View - Courtesy of FAT

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. Sam Jacob, a director of FAT said: “There is a history of copies of the Villa Rotunda that have been important staging posts for architectural culture. We hope to extend this history and explore how copying something is, strangely, a way of inventing new forms of architecture. It also seems sweet to return a bastardised form of the Villa to its original home in the Venito.” Alongside this, the London-based practice will also present San Rocco’s “The Book of Copies”, an investigative look into four architectural doppelgängers (remember this fake Austrian village in China?) , and Ines Weizman’s “Repeat Yourself”. Continue after the break to learn more.

Venice Biennale 2012: Estonian exhibition looks into the fate of Linnahall

Linnahall in Tallinn. Photo: Dmitri Bruns (1980)
Linnahall in Tallinn. Photo: Dmitri Bruns (1980)

The Estonian exhibition for the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale investigates the relationship between time and space by discovering how venues once important have been abandoned and how these tendencies may carry on today and in the future. The exhibition poses a question as its title: “How long is the life of a building?”. The answer is sought based on the example of Linnahall – a dignified Modernist legacy in the heart of Tallinn that only a few decades ago was a renowned and requisite construction, yet is closed today. What’s happening to Linnahall speaks volumes in a more general context as well – similar tendencies are becoming prominent everywhere in the world where multitudes of architectural masterpieces less than 50 years old stand unused. Continue after the break to learn more.

Venice Biennale 2012: Ruta del Peregrino responds to "Common Ground"

Each year, approximately two million Mexican residents take part in the religious phenomenon Ruta del Peregrino (Pilgrim’s Route) – a 117 kilometer pilgrimage through the mountain range of Jalisco that is centered around and moved by 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. Although conditions are harsh, this sacrifice carried with austerity is an essential part of the promise or offering that become the ritual of purification. In an effort to provide the historical route with better conditions, nine architecture firms and design offices collaborated to build seven architectural landmarks that provide shelter, services and outlook points for the pilgrims. By establishing a strong relationship with both the extraordinary landscape and the religious rituals of Ruta del Peregrino, the architectural pieces have become the “imaginary landmarks” of a deeply rooted phenomenon. Continue reading to learn about how this project is contributing to the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Venice Biennale 2012: Sneak peek

Venice Biennale 2012: Strelka Institute to host discussions on shaping tomorrow's cities

Russia’s leading creative think tank, Strelka Institute, is hosting a series of discussions with preeminent voices in architecture and urban design in the pre-opening days of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. Inspired by the Biennale’s theme of Common Ground, the conversations will focus on how architecture and design can drive the physical, social and economic regeneration of urban environments. Using Russian cities as a starting point, the talks will explore wider issues in urban design around global metropoles. Featured speakers include OMA’s Reinier de Graaf, Teddy Cruz, Stefano Boeri, and more. The discussions will take place on August 27 and 28 at the Strelka Palazzo. All events are free to attend, but space is limited. Please email venice@strelka.com to reserve a seat. Strelka Palazzo Program:

Venice Biennale 2012: Design Onscreen Film Festival

For the first time ever, Design Onscreen – the Initiative for Architecture and Design on Film – will present the Design Onscreen Film Festival at the Venice Architecture Biennale, August 27 through the 29th at the Arsenale’s Teatro Piccolo. All sixteen screenings are free and open to the public and most will be followed by dynamic in-person discussions and audience Q&As, featuring top architects and design experts from around the globe, including Lord Norman Foster, Peter Eisenman, Rick Joy, Steven Holl, Vittorio Garatti, Deyan Sudjic (Director, Design Museum London), Barry Bergdoll (Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art); Moshen Mostafavi (Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Design), Mark Wigley (Dean, Columbia Univ. School of Architecture), and David Chipperfield (Curator and Director of the 13th Annual International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale).

Continue after the break for trailers and more information.

Venice Biennale 2012: “Lars Müller Publishers - Book Fever”

Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers
Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers

Join the authors and editors of Lars Müller Publishers for a rare book signing opportunity with architects Wang Shu, Sou Fujimoto, and Steven Holl on August 28th at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale! This event will kick off the exhibition Lars Müller Publishers – Book Fever, which will feature sixty publications – new releases, bestsellers, milestones from the past, and rare treasures – for the public to explore. Founded thirty years ago, Lars Müller Publishers’ carefully edited and designed publications on architecture, design, and contemporary art has lead them to become a renowned international publisher. One milestone you may remember was their release of Peter Zumthor’s Works (1998), which was the first survey of the oeuvre of the architect now known worldwide that set new standards for the monograph as a book genre. Continue after the break for more details on the book signing and exhibition.