Architecture collective AKT and Hermann Czech will be collaborating on the concept and design of the Austrian Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Titled "Beteiligung / Participation", the pavilion will be temporarily converted into a social experiment that explores themes such as public vs. private, accessible vs. inaccessible, and communal vs. individual through architectural interventions. The 18th International Architecture Exhibition will be held from May 20th until November 26th, 2023.
Since the pavilion is located in Giardini, on the North-Eastern border of the Biennale site, the Sant’Elena district behind it is one of Venice's few neighborhoods that is still mostly inhabited by local people. The curators want to cut through the existing boundary wall, and disregard the existing separation between the Biennale and the city. To do so, part of the building will be connected to the neighboring district and made available to its residents, while the remaining part connects to the exhibition grounds.
A wall will divide the symmetrical pavilion between the main rooms that are already allocated at the entrance. The eastern part and courtyard will be accessible through a newly constructed portal from Sant’Elena, and will be made available to residents and local initiatives as a public meeting space. The western part, on the other hand, will remain accessible from the Biennale, which will have Sant’Elena's current problematic structural and living conditions on display. Although the other side cannot be reached directly, the residents of the city and visitors of the Biennale will be able to see and hear each other, displaying notions of participation and neighborliness, which will be experienced in terms of content and space.
The Hoffmann Pavilion – like many others in the Giardini – is separated from the mainstream of modernism by one characteristic: symmetry; the main and secondary spaces are repeated in mirror image. The content of one room can be juxtaposed with a second one of equal importance.” (The Hoffmann Pavilion, 2012). It is precisely this “non-modern” quality that enables a current spatial demonstration: separation and participation. -- Hermann Czech
The pavilion is commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport. AKT is a seventeen-member architecture collective with the aim of promoting the independent and utopian production of space. Their designs aim to break up the economic constraints, undermined and counteracted by alternative models through the construction of concrete spaces. Vienna-based Hermann Czech is studied under Konrad Wachsmann and Ernst A. Plischke, among others. It is a heterogeneous architectural and planning office with numerous critical and theoretical publications on architecture and solo exhibitions.
The Board of La Biennale di Venezia appointed Ghanaian-Scottish architect Lesley Lokko as the curator of the 2023 Venice Biennale as "a way of welcoming the gaze of an international personality who is able to interpret, through different roles, her own position in the contemporary debate on architecture and cities, which takes as its starting point her own experience immersed in a continent that is increasingly becoming a laboratory of experimentation and proposals for the whole contemporary world", as explained by Biennale President Roberto Cicutto.