Visitors to the pavilion can hear eight narrators tell stories about pools, considering topics such as fulfillment and accomplishment, segregation and inclusion, and learning from the past and reflecting for the future, all the while awash in the self-reflexive setting of a newly-built natatorium.
In this video, Jesús Granada takes us inside the Austrian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The exhibition, titled Orte Für Menschen (Places for People), focuses on the creation of innovative housing solutions required to handle Austria’s current refugee crisis. The pavilion displays three projects currently underway in Vienna, where three architect teams have been paired with NGOs to convert abandoned buildings into temporary accommodation for asylum seekers, and later, into long-term residences.
As the first South American selected to curate the Biennale, Alejandro Aravena was excited as he delivered the latest news on “Reporting from the Front,” the XV International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, which opened its doors to the public on May 28:
“The Biennale, the invited architects, as well as the curators, did not intend to do anything other than open a debate in which architecture can be used to improve quality of life through the sharing of knowledge. This debate holds more significance since we are speaking at the Presidential Palace because it conveys the message that these issues are important. Thank you so much for the opportunity and the chance to be here.”
The President’s presence at an event like this is a symbol that consolidates a chapter of progress and achievements in Chilean architecture. In the last two decades, Chilean architecture has positioned itself in the world as a force to be recognized, and Chilean architects are now obtaining international recognition, which would have been unimaginable a few years ago.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Vara Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale is described by the architects as “a series of exteriors within other exteriors.” Breaking down this crypticness, what emerges is a maze-like complex of circles – ten of them – formed with steel, cement, and painted plaster, which collectively create a series of walls, but no roof, thus forming a pavilion that is open to the elements from above. The 324 square meter pavilion’s title, “vara,” refers to an imprecise and obsolete Spanish unit of measurement, that was employed during the country’s conquering of America to trace and measure cities. Each of circles of the Vara Pavilion is a diameter of the unit, ranging from two to eleven.
What is the draw of the aerial view? Whereas architects and designers often find solace in this particular spatial perspective there is a more inclusive, universal appeal to this way of seeing. The ease of access to online mapping services has increased our collective reliance on understanding our world from above.
Maps condense the planet into a little world inside our pocket, the commodification of which has universalised the ‘plan-view’ photograph. The question of whether or not their ubiquitous availability, having now been assimilated into our collective consciousness, is a positive step for the status of the plan is a discussion ongoing. Yet, in the face of this dilemma, architectural photographers are pushing the boundaries of drone technology in order to find new meaning.