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.
Norwegian architect and Pritzker Laureate Sverre Fehn’s original drawings for the Nordic Pavilion in Venice are to be presented alongside Ferruzzi’s monochromatic photographs of the building in an exhibition at the National Museum of Architecture in Oslo. Venice: Fehn’s Nordic Pavilion documents the incredible task undertaken by Fehn who, at the age of thirty-four, won the competition to design the pavilion and subsequently won international acclaim when the building was completed in 1962.
House Housing is the first public presentation of a multi-year research project conducted by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University. Situated in the Casa Muraro in Venice and staged as an open house, the exhibition responds unsolicited to the proposal by Rem Koolhaas, curator of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, that architecture focus on its “fundamentals.”
According to the organisers, “House Housing replies by considering architecture’s economic fundamentals, which locate housing at the center of the current economic regime, with the United States as an influential node in a transnational network. In architecture, economic fundamentals are built from the ground up. The laws of real estate—relating to the acquisition of land, the financing of construction, the cost of building maintenance and services, profit from rent or resale, the value of equity, or the price of credit—inexorably shape any building component (like a window) and any building type (like a house).”
“They are visible even in the residential work of such singular figures as Frank Lloyd Wright, not least because the Greek oikos, or household, forms the root of the word “economy” itself. But look closely and you will see that what seems fundamental, basic, or natural is, like any other law, a historical artifact permanently under construction and subject to change. House Housing narrates nineteen brief episodes from across the last one hundred years in a mixture of domestic media.”
Find out more about the event here.
This year’s Venice Biennale, curated by OMA’s Rem Koolhaas, is “interested in the banal”. In an article in the Financial Times’, Edwin Heathcote discusses the paradox between exploring generic modernism at an event which celebrates the individual. Heathcote raises interesting questions about the extent to which world architecture has developed in modernity, ultimately arguing that, “in a way, architecture is over.” You can read the article, which neatly investigates the curatorial rationale behind this year’s Biennale, in full here.
Architects: Rios Clementi Hale Studios
Location: Venice, CA, USA
Rch Studios Team: Frank Clementi, AIA, principal; Julie Smith-Clementi, IDSA, principal; Huay Wee, architect, senior associate; Anthony Anderson, architect; Carolyn Sumida, landscape architect; Claudia Morello, designer
Area: 2,200 sqft
Photographs: Undine Pröhl
Both Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright can be found on a lengthy list of architects who have tried to build in Venice and lost their battle to conservationists. However, OMA has broke through this barrier, as the practice was recently approved – after five years pending – to go forth with a project to renovate a 16th century palazzo for the fashion retailer Benetton near the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal.
More details and statements from the architect after the break…
Taking place November 11-18, the ‘Emerging Realities’ international student workshop will take place in Venice as part of the Biennale to feature international guest speakers. The event, put on by the Institute for Architecture and Landscape, LANDLAB ia&l, envisions the Venice lagoon archipelago as a prototype for a future metropolitan regional system. The new productive landscape proposes that it is capable of supporting such community while establishing an integrated and environmentally stable system that builds upon existing biodiversity, cultural practice, and production. For more information on the event, please visit here.