The Nordic Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will be transformed into an experimental cohousing project by architects Helen & Hard, supported by a curatorial team from the National Museum of Norway. Responding to the theme of How will we live together? the intervention “will present a framework for designing and building communities based on participation and sharing”.
The Nordic Pavilion in Venice, co‑owned by Sweden, Finland, and Norway, will put in place a model for cohousing. In 2021, the National Museum of Norway will be in charge of realizing the exhibition. Entitled What we share, the intervention at the 2021 Venice Biennale was designed by Norwegian architects Helen & Hard, a practice founded in Stavanger by Norwegian architect Siv Helene Stangeland and Austrian architect Reinhard Kropf. Working in collaboration with residents of their cohousing project Vindmøllebakken in Stavanger, Norway, the architects were selected for their innovative work in the field of cohousing.
Being both architects and inhabitants of a cohousing community has made us aware of the potential that this housing model can offer in terms of tackling some of the societal and environmental challenges we face today. In Venice, we want to explore this potential and demonstrate how the interplay between inhabitants and agencies involved can create an adaptable architecture. -- Partners and creative directors of Helen & Hard Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf.
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In the award-winning project Vindmøllebakken, “residents have relatively small but fully equipped apartments, several shared facilities and spaces, and a vibrant local democracy”. Within this same logic, Helen & Hard encourages residents at the Nordic Pavilion exhibition in Venice, to develop a more radical version of communal housing. Asking “which aspects of their private lives are they willing to move out of their apartments and share with other residents, and with the audience?”, the architects hope to address the urgent need in the housing sector through new models of communal living. Building on the Nordic model developed in the 1970s, combining owner-occupancy and individual living units with shared facilities and communal participation, the exhibition presents a real proposal for building apartments, communal spaces, and semi-private sharing zones in commercial housing projects.
In the past year, questions about our ways of living, and how they relate to loneliness, social encounters and community, have become even more acute. -- Curator Martin Braathen of the National Museum of Norway.
Open to the public on 22 May 2021, “visitors to the Pavilion will be able to walk through and explore a cross-section of a prototype cohousing project that will include communal and private areas designed to feel like real living spaces”. Based on a dialogue between architects and residents, the project implements an innovative open-source solid timber construction system developed in cooperation with the Swiss engineer Herman Blumer. Moreover, the exhibition shows a video by artist Anna Ihle, who is a resident of Vindmøllebakken. Finally, a comprehensive digital presentation of the project will also be available to view online during the exhibition.
- Exhibition Team: Martin Braathen and Joakim Skajaa, Gudrun Eidsvik and Karianne Ommundsen, and Cathrine Furuholmen, all from the National Museum of Norway, are serving as project curators, curators of education, and project manager, respectively.