In the latest edition of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, Chiara Rimella reports from the Veneto in northern Italy for a report on the best at the 15th International Architecture Biennale – La Biennale di Venezia. Covering Aravena's central exhibitions, Reporting From the Front, and the designers and curators of the 61 national pavilions, the show seeks to understand how architecture can tackle some of the pressing social and political concerns of our time.
In a short film exploring some of the National Participations at this year's Venice Biennale, Monocle Films take a considered look at how different countries have responded to the Biennale theme, Reporting From the Front in both explicit and more indirect ways. Visiting the Austrian Pavilion, the Nordic Pavilion, the Turkish Pavilion, the British Pavilion, the Irish Pavilion, the Australian Pavilion and the Romanian Pavilion, the film studies what discourses are being waged in the compressed geo-political world of the Giardini di Biennale.
Riccardo De Cal presents his exhibition Into the Labyrinth at Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, Italy. The exhibition will include 20 photographs, primarily selected from De Cal's new publication Dream of Venice Architecture. Inspired by novelist Jorge Luis Borges's statement that the maze, "is a building built to confuse people," De Cal has created an interior environment of metal armatures, audio recordings and photography. Designed by Melissa Siben, the exhibit is a modern three-dimensional representation of the labyrinthine structure of the city of Venice.
As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.
Britain is suffering from a terrible housing crisis – one that is an incredibly predictable outcome of decades of neoliberal economic policy. The Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has become well-known for building “half a house” – only completing core infrastructure in social housing, then encouraging residents to finish the other half with their own money over time. In effect, the first generation get a significantly cheaper home, but once the house has been doubled it could be sold at market rate. The discount, and profit, only applies to the original owners.
The city of Venice has been caught in a tug of war between progress and traditionalism for many years, and particularly since the construction of a railroad viaduct in 1846 linked the island city to the Italian mainland for the first time in its history. Over a century later, the Venetian government commissioned Louis Kahn to design a new Palazzo dei Congressi for the city; his proposal, while paying respect to the histories of both the Republic of Venice and a unified Italy, could not escape similar controversy.
"Scrutinizing the horizon and looking for a new perspective" is what Alejandro Aravena has encouraged in the 2016 Venice Biennale, Reporting From the Front. "[He] has staged one of the most socially charged Biennales," Gillian Dobias reports, by "exploring the different ways that design can add value." In this, the first of two film reportages from the Biennale, Monocle talks to Aravena about his hopes for stimulating the debate on improving quality of life in the built environment, and tour the Central Pavilion and the Arsenale to uncover what's on show.
OMA’s long-awaited conversion of the 16th century Fondaco dei Tedeschi as a department store is finally complete in Venice. The project was commissioned by Edizione S.r.l., the Benetton family's holding company, in 2009, and will bring comprehensive changes to one of the city’s largest and most recognizable buildings. The Fondaco was first begun in 1228 and is located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, across from the fish market. With many past lives, it was first used as a trading post for German merchants, later as a customs house under Napoleon, and in the twentieth century, as a post office under Mussolini. Despite numerous and radical structural changes, the building was listed as a 'Monument' in 1987, restricting further alterations.
There is an enormous intensity of information, knowledge and ideas on display at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, Reporting From the Front. With all the Executive Editors and Editors-in-Chief of ArchDaily's platforms in English, Spanish and (Brazilian) Portuguese in Venice for the opening of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale—plus co-founder David Basulto and European Editor-at-Large James Taylor-Foster, who curated this year's Nordic Pavilion—we've pooled together twelve of our initial favourite exhibitions and must-see shows.
The Republic of Seychelles will make their debut at the upcoming Venice Biennale with an exhibition titled Between Two Waters, Searching for Expression in the Seychelles. Curated by Andrés F. Ramírez, and featuring the work of local firm ADD.locus, the exhibition faces the Grand Canal and “transports visitors to the 115-island archipelago—the least populated nation in Africa,” exploring the identity of this nation while also investigating the architecture of every day life in the paradise islands.
With the opening of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale almost upon us, architects, curators and artists have already started to migrate to the city to unlock pavilion doors and sweep out the past six months of hibernation from the previous biennale season. This year, however, one pavilion has confirmed that it will remain closed – the Canadian Pavilion will not be opening its doors. Closure of the space has been attributed to a much-needed renovation, which has been mentioned by those who have exhibited in the space, specifically Shary Boyle at the 2012 Venice Art Biennale. Nevertheless, there are whispers that the political nature of this year’s entry may have been another reason to keep the pavilion shut. That said, Canada will be present by staking claim in the Giardini with a provocative installation entitled Extraction.
The Swedish exhibition, “The Forests of Venice,” has been selected as a Collateral Event for the 2016 Venice Biennale. Initiated by Kjellander + Sjöberg and Folkhem; and curated by Jan Åman, the exhibit highlights wood as a sustainable material, while looking at "the interaction between nature and the man-made human habitat in order to respond to climate change and limited resources."
The organising committee behind the Pavilion of China at the 2016 Venice Biennale (the China International Exhibition Agency) have revealed that the exhibition will be entitled Back to the Ignored Front, themed around "things and designs that embody traditions of the past and have a lasting presence." Based on the premise that Chinese architecture has been pioneering in the nation’s modernization for the last three decades the show, which will be on display in the Arsenale, intends to tackle how these "developments generally focus only on the new ‘futuristic’ frontier." 'Spectacular’ buildings and cities are, in their words, "erected one after another, seldom taking a glance at the things passed by – ancient traditions and daily lives."
Kristy Balliet, Assistant Professor at the Knowlton School of Architecture, is the Columbus-based half of BairBalliet, who will be presenting their work as part of the Pavilion of the United States at this year’s Venice Biennale. Her research focuses on the exploration of volume as an architectural medium. Balliet's interest in the city of Detroit began long ago. Related to her interest in contemporary forms of volume, her research started to reimagine the typology of the architectural "midrise" (10-15 story building). Detroit, along with other Midwest cities, requires an innovative tactic for urban infill and associated embedded volumes. This topic has been explored within her own work and as a topic for research design studios at the Knowlton School of Architecture.
In celebration of the four decade career of the late Zaha Hadid, Fondazione Berengo will host an exhibition of her paintings, drawings, and models at the 16th century Palazzo Franchetti in Venice, coinciding with the 2016 Venice Biennale. The exhibition will display the full range of Hadid's design work from built projects, to those under construction, and others ultimately never realized. Some of the early, unrealized work that will be represented includes Malevich’s Tektonic, a bridge concept for the Thames River, which Hadid developed while she was still a student at the Architectural Association School in London (1976-77), as well Peak Club, Hong Kong (1982-83), Hafenstrasse, Hamburg (1989), Grand Buildings, Trafalgar Square, London (1985), the Victoria City master-plan for Berlin (1988), and the Cardiff Bay Opera House (1994-95).
The 2016 Venice Biennale will see the inaugural collaboration between La Biennale and London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) with an exhibition located in the Sale d’Armi (Arsenale) entitled A World of Fragile Parts. The show aims to explore the threats facing the preservation of global heritage sites and how the production of copies can aid in the preservation of cultural artefacts.
The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation from Alejandro Aravena, have announced the jury for the forthcoming Venice Biennale who will award the Golden Lion for Best National Participation, the Golden Lion for Best Participant in the International Exhibition Reporting From the Front, and the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition Reporting From the Front. They will also have the opportunity to award one special mention to National Participations and two special mentions to the participants in the International Exhibition.
The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, upon recommendation from Alejandro Aravena, have announced the Brazilian Pritzker Prize-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha as the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Reporting From the Front. Citing the "timelessness" of his work "both physically and stylistically" as "the most striking attribute of his architecture," the board have also stated that "this astonishing consistency may be the consequence of his ideological integrity and structural genius."
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced that eight full-time or visiting faculty members and four alumni spanning five continents will be responsible for ten separate installations at the upcoming 2016 Venice Biennale. The institution have said that their "worldview for meaningful impact [is] deeply aligned with this year’s theme of architecture in action."