China's Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014: Mountains Beyond Mountains

China's Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014: Mountains Beyond Mountains
© Nico Saieh

From the Curators. By making space the manifestation of content and content an insight of the space, space and content are correlated in the China Pavilion in that content provides an explicit timeline of China’s 100 years’ of architectural thinking (dual theme threads), while space presents an implicit theme of Yi Xiang (imagery-scape) through the history of Chinese architecture.

China's Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014: Mountains Beyond Mountains - More Images+ 5

© Nico Saieh


Under the Chinese dimensional model of Sheng-Zhang-Shou-Cang (Sprout-Growth-Restraint-Reservation), the one hundred years of Chinese architectural history is reexamined with the four specific systems of prefabrication, structure, planning, and landscape, while linked with the latent clue of Xing-Yi (Form-Imagery). Narrated by fundamentals instead of ideologies, the content is released from the constraints of "-isms" or the aura of stardom, so as to echo the space of the China Pavilion. The selected cases of content will be presented in the forms of case cards, storybooks, timeline scrolls, archives, and models, most of which can be customized by the visitors into catalogues.


The exhibition space will be arranged with a fractal “longitude” of Jia-Cheng-Guo-Tianxia (household-city-state-nature), as well as the “latitude” of dimensions – Sheng-Zhang-Shou-Cang (Sprout-Growth-Restraint-Reservation).

© Nico Saieh

The site of the pavilion is basically a dichotomy of house (Magazzino delle Cisterne) and yard (Giadino delle Vergini). It is re-designed by introducing the following fundamental principles:

  1. Yard-house as a blend: breaking the interior-exterior dichotomy by introducing the house into the yard and and the yard into the house.
  2. Architecture as a metabolic cluster: mulitplying the yard-houses so as to create multicenters in the China Pavilion where both contents and visitors are grouped by typologies and interests.
  3. World as a fractal progress:scaling up the multiplied spaces into the hierarchic pattern of Jia-Cheng-Guo-Tianxia (household-city-state-nature).

Three teams of architects have been invited to design the China Pavilion collectively. Their interrlationships are described as "Mountains beyond Mountains," a traditional Chinese image emphasizing the interrelating tensions and imagery, and absorbs modern programs into the traditional Chinese perspective with "Tao Follows Nature" as its foundation. In other words, the most important issue in "absorbing modernity" is not the modernity itself, but the framework under which it is absorbed, and whether or not the framework can reconcile its impact.

© Nico Saieh

  • Commissioner: China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG)
  • Deputy Commissioner: Yu Zhang
  • Curator: Jun Jiang

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Cite: Nico Saieh. "China's Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014: Mountains Beyond Mountains" 17 Jun 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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