Portugal has unveiled the theme of its contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale: “Neighborhood – Where Alvaro Meets Aldo.” Curated by Nuno Grande, a Portugese architect, teacher, critic, and curator, and Roberto Cremascoli, an Italian architect and longtime collaborator of Álvaro Siza Vieira, the exhibition will focus on the works of both Álvaro Siza and Aldo Rossi.
The Portuguese exhibition is unique in that it will be installed on Venice’s Giudecca island, where Siza’s 1985 social housing project Campo di Marte is located. Campo di Marte is part of a larger plan on the island, which includes designs by other architects such as Aldo Rossi, and was never fully completed.
The Portuguese representation will focus on Álvaro Siza’s work with social housing, covering his interventions in different neighborhoods in Porto, Berlin, the Hague and Venice, and analyzing their relationship with the European city and the creation of true “neighborhoods.”
When it comes to his social projects, Alvaro Siza was influenced by Italian architectural culture, and in particular with the conceptual and ideological legacy of Aldo Rossi, whose essay “The Architecture of the City” was published 50 years ago.
The exhibition is divided into three parts:
The first part of the exhibition – “Four visions for the Campo di Marte neighborhood (1985) – will show the plans of the four winning teams from the Campo di Marte International competition in 1985: Álvaro Siza; Aldo Rossi and Gianfranco Caniggia; Carlo Aymonino; and Rafael Moneo.
The second part, “The Four Neighborhoods of Álvaro Siza (1973-2016) will consist of drawings, models, photographs, and films of four of Siza’s social housing interventions: the Bouça neighborhood in Porto; the Schlesisches Tor, in Berlin; the Schilderswijk West, in The Hague; and the Campo di Marte project itself, on Giudecca island, in Venice.
“Where Alvaro meets Aldo (1966-2016)” will be the third component of the exhibition, featuring photographs, letters, texts and other “conceptual encounters” between Álvaro Siza and Aldo Rossi.
The project aims to involve the inhabitats of Siza’s projects, through photographs, interviews and direct interaction with the neighbors of the Campo di Marte in Venice.
The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, which owns some of the archives of both Aldo Rossi and Alvaro Siza, and with ATER – the Territorial Bureau of Housing for the Venice province, the city of Venice, and Venice University’s Institute of Architecture (IUAV).
It should also be noted that following this initiative, ATER Venice decided to resume the construction of the Campo di Marte project, with Álvaro Siza to finish his missing square/garden, which will later be enclosed by a housing block by Rafael Moneo.