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.”
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.
The event will be live streamed on the Biennale website Today (November 7th) from 10:00am to 6:00pm Central European Time.
In June of this year seven architecture students came together to film the vernissage of the Venice Biennale. Undaunted by the unrelenting Venetian sun and the prospect of being faced by some of the world’s greatest living architects and curators, the team – spanning four nationalities – spent three days feverishly talking to anyone and everyone (in between pasta and espresso breaks). Having built up a comprehensive picture of the opening days of the Biennale in a series of short, uninhibited filmed interviews, Mies. TV proudly presents their alternative, slightly shaky coverage of the 2014 Venice Biennale.
Watch short interviews with the likes of Jacques Herzog (Herzog + de Meuron), Daniel Libeskind, Patrik Schumacher (Zaha Hadid Architects), Sir Peter Cook (CRAB Studio), Wolf D. Prix (Coop Himmelb(l)au), Sam Jacob (FAT), and ArchDaily’s very own Editor-in-Chief – David Basulto - after the break.
ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this post, we take you back to AR’s July 2014 issue, which focused on this year’s Venice Biennale. In her introduction, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that while previous Biennales have been hopelessly out of touch, this year Rem Koolhaas has initiated a critical conversation at a crucial moment in time.
In its giddy, self-referential way, the Venice Architecture Biennale always seems blissfully detached from the real world. Set in the preposterous, decaying stage set that is modern Venice, the press vernissage is a frenzied bacchanal, as the global cognoscenti descend like locusts on a fragile urban eco-system already bludgeoned by battalions of tourists and hulking cruise ships.
The Glasgow School of Art have announced that they will hold two symposiums in order to discuss the restoration of the school’s library which was devastated in a fire in May of this year. The first conference, to be held in Venice’s Querini Stampalia, will act as a precursor to a second conference to be held in Glasgow in 2015. According to Professor Christopher Platt, head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture, the meetings will help to answer the question: “What should the plans be for bringing the Mackintosh building into full use once more and how should we approach the particular issue of the Macintosh library?”
House Housing, “An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate in Nineteen Episodes”, was recently exhibited at Columbia University’s Casa Muraro in Venice. Staged as an “open house” organised and funded by the Buell Center, the exhibition responded unsolicited to Rem Koolhaas’s call to exhibitors at the 2014 Venice Biennale to focus on Fundamentals by exploring housing in nineteen “discrete episodes.” In narrating these episodes, brought together from across the last one hundred years in a mixture of domestic media, the exhibition brought together a collection of excerpts from global processes.
Over 50 Leading figures from architecture, art, film and fashion – Including Norman Foster, the director of London’s National Gallery Nicholas Penny, the director of the Guggenheim Foundation Richard Armstrong, and Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett, Michael Douglas, Julie Christie, Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton and Rob Lowe – have signed a petition pleading Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Italian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini to keep large cruise ships out of Venice.
The petition, created by the UNESCO-backed Association of the International Private Committees for the Safeguarding of Venice, says is a reaction to both the aesthetic intrusion caused by the cruise liners, but also what it believes is a “probable risk of catastrophe” due to the possible effects that such large ships could have on the fragile Lagoon surrounding Venice.
More on the cruise ship controversy after the break
The much anticipated Time Space Existence collateral event at Palazzo Bembo and Palazzo Mora for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale brought together a diverse group of 100 architects from six continents in an “extraordinary combination.” Summoned by the Dutch non-profit Global Arts Affairs Foundation, the exhibitions the architects were asked to produce documents current developments and thoughts in architecture, highlighting fundamental questions by discussing the philosophical concepts of Time, Space and Existence. Featuring well established architects next to lesser known practices, they all share a “dedication to architecture in the broadest sense of their profession.”
Re-Creation is a two-part installation based on a concept by Anssi Lassila. One part of the installation was constructed by a Finnish master carpenter and his team, and the other by a Chinese team. Together the two parts of the installation strike up a subtle and complex dialogue between the architects and local builders.
Presented by the pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto in 1956, the installation “takes a stand on our relationship with the modern legacy and its tradition of international dialogue, and represents a quintessential product of topical international dialogue while at the same time offering its own unique interpretation of the dynamic between tradition and modernity.” See images of the pavilion and enjoy a statement from the curators after the break.
Germany’s contribution to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale scrutinizes the architecture of representation, its crisis, and potential cessation. Aside from the universal ambition of modernism to break with the past, Germany has undergone a number of decisive political and societal breaks during the last hundred years. Through the question of how the nation “(re)builds and represents itself through architecture, we are able to discuss the friction between national identity and architecture expression—however, architecture is not only a mirror to ideology, but a constituting reality and societal context.”
Dutch practice Bekkering Adams Architecten, in cooperation with ABT and BeersNielsen, recently unveiled an installation at the Palazzo Mora, Venice as part of a collateral event with this year’s Venice Biennale. Entitled Form-ContraForm, the sculptural piece reflects on the conceptual and human perception of space – something which they describe as “a space that surrounds and envelops.” Distilling architecture’s fundamentals (which is also the theme of this year’s Biennale) down to the definition of co-ordinates in space, the experience created by Bekkering Adams is akin to the notion of “the mass versus the cavity.”
In this extended interview by the Architectural Review, Charles Jencks provides an in-depth description of the 2014 Venice Biennale and critiques his former student Rem Koolhaas’ overall curation and theme: Fundamentals.
Arguing that the previous thirteen Biennales have, “more or less, tried to predict what is going to happen over the next five years,” ”Rem Koolhaas has changed the paradigm:” Rem’s Biennale is about “the past of the present”. Jencks, who describes Koolhaas as ”the Corbusier of our time”, suggests that his Biennale is about analysis rather than total synthesis. He has, however, “shown that research can be creative.”
Australia’s new pavilion for the 2015 Venice Art Biennale will be, in the words of featured artist Fiona Hall, “a minefield of madness, badness, and sadness in equal measure.” Designed by firm Denton Corker Marshall, (who also designed the Stonehenge Visitor Centre), the project will replace the 25 year old temporary pavilion designed by Phillip Cox and will be the first building constructed on the Giardini in two decades.
For CNN’s George Webster, this year’s Biennale is a “bold reminder that architecture is – or at least should be – about a great deal more than blueprints, digital renderings and scale models.” Taking the British Pavilion as a case in point, Webster argues that Koolhaas’ original thematic provocation has paid off, succeeding “because it places people - our history, culture and even our bodies - at the very heart of its thinking.” Travelling through the pavilions of Romania, Germany, the Dominican Republic, and Russia, you can read the article in full here.