XTU Architects Imagine Self-Building Wall City

Flohara by XTU Architects envisions an inhabitable desert wall that constructs itself from the natural processes of its environment. Featured at the Venice Biennale's Morocco Pavilion exhibition entitled “Fundamental(ism)s,” this ecological phenomenon defies the conventions of housing, offering shelter from varying climatic conditions and supporting both human and plant life in the harsh desert.

© XTU architects © XTU architects © XTU architects © XTU architects

The Architecture Of Death

At the 2014 Venice Biennale, away from the concentrated activity of the Arsenale and Giardini, was Death in Venice: one of the few independent projects to take root that year. The exhibition was curated by Alison Killing and Ania Molenda, who worked alongside LUST graphic designers. It saw the hospitals, cemeteries, crematoria and hospices of London interactively mapped creating, as Gian Luca Amadei put it, an overview of the capital's "micro-networks of death." Yet it also revealed a larger message: that architecture related to death and dying appears to no longer be important to the development of architecture as a discipline.

© A. Molenda © A. Molenda © A. Molenda © A. Molenda

Koolhaas Denounces Plagiarism Rumors Surrounding Zaera-Polo's Princeton Resignation

This past October Alejandro Zaera-Polo abruptly resigned from his position as Dean of Princeton’s School of Architecture amidst plagiarism rumors. The resignation, requested by University President Christopher Eisgruber, was the result of Zaera-Polo's removal of citations from his contribution to the “Facade” section of the Elements of Architecture exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale

Claiming the rumors to be “demonstrably false,” Zaera-Polo has issued a “clarifying statement” outlining the purpose of his Biennale text to be polemic, and nonacademic, therefore it did not breach “any moral, ethical, or other applicable standards.” An email in support of Zaera-Polo sent by Rem Koolhaas to Eisgruber three days before the resignation has also released, denouncing any wrongdoing from Koolhaas’ perspective as the Biennale’s director.

Read Koolhaas' email, Zaera-Polo's clarification statement and a response from Princeton in full, after the break.

Video: Rem Koolhaas and Nest CEO Tony Fadell on Architecture and Technology

How will technology that began in Silicon Valley change global urbanism and the elements of architecture? In this video from the 2014 Venice Biennale, inventor, designer and entrepreneur Tony Fadell discusses technology and its emerging impact on architecture with Rem Koolhaas. As a co-founder of Nest Labs, Fadell played a major role in developing the first Apple iPod and has taken his knowledge of interactive user interface with him to change one of the most basic interface elements in our homes – the thermostat. With adaptive technologies becoming increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, Koolhaas discusses the potential ramifications of technological architecture with concerns ranging from privacy to individual freedoms and more. 

The 2014 Venice Biennale, Socially Ranked

At a time when everyone is constantly interacting with the digital social universe, it's becoming increasingly easier to gather informal data on how well received, recommended, liked (or disliked) an event or exhibition is. Compiled as a series of diagrams for DomusMaria Novozhilova examines the 'social ranking' of the 2014 Venice Biennale by dissecting the three core exhibitions (Fundamentals, Monditalia and Absorbing Modernity) and revealing the apparent 'winners and losers' as far as social engagement is concerned. Noting that "it is only by starting from the end and working backwards, like a salmon swimming against the current, that we can see more exhaustively how things went,", Novozhilova's visualisations reveal a number of fascinating results. See all the diagrams here.

MoMA's Pedro Gadanho on "Bringing Architectural Modernity Home"

This article by Pedro Gadanho was originally published in Homeland: News From Portugal, the project created for Portugal's national representation at the 2014 Venice Biennale.

TCA Think Tank Creates "Parasite Pavilion" With Five-Day Workshop in Venice

Casting complex shadows and engulfing visitors in a series of maze-like spaces, the Parasite Pavilion was constructed as part of the Synergy & Symbiosis event at the 2014 Venice Biennale, which showcased the best of the UABB Shenzhen and Hong Kong Biennale from 2005 to 2014. Based on the Bug Dome pavilion, a similar experiment from Hong Kong 2009, constructed by Weak! Architects as an icon of "illegal architecture," this new pavilion is the product of an intensive five day workshop, with the cooperation of architects and students from Europe, Australia, and China. Read on after the break to learn more about the Pavilion and Workshop.

Reflections on the 2014 Venice Biennale

Fundamentals, the title of the 2014 Venice Biennale, will close its doors in a matter of days (on the 23rd November). From the moment Rem Koolhaas revealed the title for this year’s Biennale in January 2013, asking national curators to respond directly to the theme of ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’, there was an inkling that this Biennale would be in some way special. Having rejected offers to direct the Biennale in the past, the fact that Koolhaas chose to act not only as curator but also thematic co-ordinator of the complete international effort, was significant. This announcement led Peter Eisenman (one of Koolhaas' earliest tutors and advocates) to state in one interview that “[Rem is] stating his end: the end of [his] career, the end of [his] hegemony, the end of [his] mythology, the end of everything, the end of architecture.”

Venice Biennale Hosts Third Annual "Archives and Exhibitions" Livestream Conference

With just over two weeks left in the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale, is hosting a one day conference on the intersection between archives, exhibitions and digital integration. Focusing on the themes of the "dissipation of memory" and the "vulnerability of digital data" in an age of ever-changing technological platforms, the conference is the third in a series of archive-themed events hosted at the Giardini in the Biennale Library, and will feature a screening of Digital Amnesia, a documentary on the lifespan of archival technology, along with a round table discussion with leading archivists and curators from around the world. Panelists include the Mirko Zardini, Director and Chief Curator from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, archive superintendents from three Italian provinces, professors from three Italian universities, and Debora Rossi, the chief archivist for the Venice Biennale.

Voices From Venice: A Global Dialogue for Women in Architecture

Last March, Caroline James and Arielle Assouline-Lichten spearheaded a campaign that called on Pritzker to retroactively recognize Denise Scott Brown for her role in the 1991 Pritzker Prize, won by Robert Venturi. Continuing their quest to bring the issue of gender equality into a positive and progressive light, James has conducted a series of interviews with five women architects at the 2014 Venice Biennale to share their rich and complex experiences and offer diverse perspectives. Conversations ranging from the controversial role of Modernism to the journey towards inclusion and the challenges of opening offices abroad, include insight from Caroline Bos of UNStudio, Louise Braverman, Odile Decq, Yasmine Shariff of Dennis Sharp Architects, and Benedetta Tagliabue of Miralles Tagliabue EMBT. Watch the video above to view the discussions in-depth.

A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River

Nearly 9,000 kilometers separate Venice, Italy from Houston, Texas, and yet, both cities are bound by a simple connection: the coexistence of the urban fabric with the waterfront. This connection was brought to life this summer through The University of Houston’s exhibition at the Venice Architectural Biennale's Time Space Existence Event: RISKY HABIT[AT]: DYNAMIC LIVING ON THE BUFFALO BAYOU. Awarded  the Global Art Affairs Foundation (GAAF) Award for Best Exhibition, the exhibition showcased the complexities and potential of the city's relationship with its waterfront. To better understand Houston’s waterfront and the changing relationship between the city and its river we visited the site ourselves. Read after the break to see what it’s like to talk a walk along the Bayou, and to find out what the Houston river project can learn from similar undertakings in Chicago, Des Moines, and Newark.

AMO Invites Dutch Architects to Discuss their Future at the Venice Biennale

On November 20-21, AMO is hosting a discussion event at the Venice Biennale focusing on the past, present and future of Dutch architecture in which 30 young architects will be invited to present their agenda for architecture in the Netherlands for the next 10 years. Over the course of the two days, each participant will present will deliver a 7-minute presentation looking at architecture in 2024 to answer the question "where will you be and will you be doing?" Find out more about the event, and how you can be a part of it, after the break.

Rem’s Kit of Parts: Exhaustive and Exhausting, Mad and Maddening

In “Elements,” an exhibition and accompanying book for the 2014 Venice Architecture BiennaleRem Koolhaas seeks to explore the omnipresent components of buildings that have never been intentionally articulated by architectural theory. Breaking down the history of architecture into its fundamental components, the text is divided into 15 volumes and functions as “a technophilic treatise on the state of architectural thinking in the twenty-first century.” Despite providing lessons in architectural history, does the book deliver a compelling synthesis of all its parts? In his full review of the book for Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina argues that Koolhaas "fails to unpack the language of his argument," resulting in a book that is "ambitious, overreaching, maddening" - much like the exhibition itself. Read the full review here.

Hacking the Biennale: "Project Source Code" Uses Augmented Reality to Stage a Rebel Exhibition

This year at the Venice Biennale, not all of the exhibitions are visible. Ozel Office of Los Angeles have "hacked" the Venice Biennale with the help of some major architecture firms: Asymptote Architecture, Greg Lynn Form, Neil M. Denari Architects, Murmur, and Oosterhuis Lenard. Together, these firms have created a rogue digital addition to the Biennale only accessible through a virtual portal revealing a world of levitating models, movable objects, and much more, activated by physical components of the Koolhaas-curated central pavilion.

Beyond Starchitects: An Architectural Revolution at the 2014 Venice Biennale

"The Biennale reveals that modernism was never a style. It was a cultural, political, and social practice," says Sarah Williams Goldhagen in her recent article for New Republic, The Great Architect Rebellion of 2014. This year, the Venice Biennale dissects the notion of modernism by providing a hefty cross-section of architectural history in the central pavilion. However contrary to Koolhaas' prescriptive brief, the 65 national pavilions show modernism was not just a movement, but a socially-driven, culturally attuned reaction to the "exigencies of life in a rapidly changing and developing world." Unexpected moments define the 2014 Venice Biennale: from Niemeyer's desire to launch Brazil into the first world through architectural creation, to South Korea's unveiling of a deep modernist tradition with influence across the nation. This Biennale proved to be truly rebellious - read Goldhagen's article from New Republic here to find out why. 

"Mouthful of Meetings": The Collision of North and South at the Venice Biennale

”Mouthful of meetings” is a moderated conversation taking place at the 2014 Venice Biennale with a focus on socioeconomic sustainability and current projects in developing countries around the world. The event is organized by South of North, a collaboration between Nordic architects working in the non-profit sector in developing environments. Contributors will include contemporary Nordic and African practices with an emphasis on recent works of socially committed architecture. Read on after the break for more details of the event.

Interview: Ma Yansong on "Silhouette Shanshui" at the Venice Biennale

MAD Architects' "Silhouette Shanshui" - which lies somewhere between an installation and a model - is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm's Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.

OMA Creates 360-Degree Cinema at the Venice Biennale

OMA has recently transformed the F stage of the Corderie at the Venice Biennale to become a four screen, 360-degree cinema hall. Complementing the exhibitions at the Biennale, full movies will be screened in the space on weekends from now until November.