Venice Biennale 2014: Paraguay to Submit Tensile Water Structure

Paraguay means “water that flows toward the sea” in the language of the country’s indigenous Guarani people. It is no surprise, then, that Paraguay’s entry for the 2014 Venice Biennale uses water as the primary structural member. Titled “Aqua Alta,” the Paraguayan pavilion responds to the Biennale’s focus on modern fundamentals by stating that modern architecture must achieve more with less.

Structural Model. Image Courtesy of Javier Corvalan + Colectivo Aqua Alta

Pavilion curator Sergio Ruggeri states: “Modernity is a tension of exceeding, a willingness to change. In a society where the waste is a problem, particularly in a context where resources are poor, the architecture must seek the minimum possible to obtain the maximum result, through a technological, spatial and aesthetic research that becomes a tension towards a synthesis of structure-function-form… which seeks to cultivate [a] state of Modernity.” To that end, architects Javier Corvalan + Colectivo Aqua Alta have designed a series of curved wooden shells, formed using only tension applied to the material via water weight. 

Closeup of the water pouch that exerts tensile stress on the shell. Image Courtesy of Javier Corvalan + Colectivo Aqua Alta

These shells, while impressive structural objects in their own right, will be used as mobile acoustical shells to host orchestral performances. The team plans to inaugurate the opening of the pavilion in Venice with just such a performance, played by the orchestra H2O. A fitting name, as the pavilion will emphasize the importance of water to both Paraguay and Venice.

See the video below for more information on how these intriguing structures are built:

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Cite: Connor Walker. "Venice Biennale 2014: Paraguay to Submit Tensile Water Structure" 26 Apr 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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