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Laurian Ghinitoiu

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Incidental Space: Inside the Swiss Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

All architecture is exhibitionist. Exhibitions are not simply sites for the display of architecture, they are sites for the incubations of new forms of architecture and new ways of thinking about architecture. [1] – Beatriz Colomina

An architecture biennale can be more than a place to simply represent and celebrate the status quo in architectural production. The Biennale’s state of exception and its spatial distance from where people normally work open up a space for examining and critically questioning the conditions of everyday work and production. Although, technologically speaking, more is possible today than ever before, in recent years architects’ creative latitude has been greatly reined in by an enormous—and growing—burden of rules and regulations. Against this background, the architectural exhibition is becoming an ever more relevant medium for a critical practice of architecture. Understood in these terms, an exhibition is no longer just a place for representing architecture ex post facto, as it is still often treated today. Instead, the fact of the exhibition space’s autonomy, and its distance from the “real” world of public and private architecture, has a potential that is increasingly being recognized and put to use. Exhibitions are becoming a place for researching and producing an experimental and critical architectural practice: a place not for the presentation of finished products, but for the production of content. The simultaneous limitations and license to experiment lent by the exhibition space focuses the object of research, allowing for the emergence of new insights, interpretations, and meanings. This calls into question the supposed boundary between architecture and the exhibition. Inquiry becomes a form of display.

Our Amazon Frontline: Inside Perú's Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

The Amazon rainforest is our common frontline: constant battles are being fought to preserve the greatest source of biodiversity, oxygen production and climate regulation of the planet.

The Amazon is also the battlefront between the ancestral vision of its inhabitants and the modern vision that western society has over this territory. If we were to learn from the indigenous knowledge, now endangered by hegemonic “western civilization”, we would open an unforeseen insight about medicine, nutrition, and the sustainable production of the rainforest. The dissolution of this last frontline would have global implications and it would even change the way we see our world.

Our Amazon Frontline / Pabellón de Perú en la Bienal de Venecia 2016. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Our Amazon Frontline / Pabellón de Perú en la Bienal de Venecia 2016. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Our Amazon Frontline / Pabellón de Perú en la Bienal de Venecia 2016. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Our Amazon Frontline / Pabellón de Perú en la Bienal de Venecia 2016. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 14

Video: Designing Through Time – Home Economics at the 2016 Venice Biennale

In this interview, presented in collaboration with PLANE—SITE, Jack Self—co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale—reveals how the frontline of architecture in Britain today is not just a housing crisis, but "a crisis of the home." In provocatively presenting "the banal," Self reveals why the British participation at the 2016 Venice Biennale proposes five new models for domestic life, each curated through time of domestic occupancy, alongside how it seeks to address the ways in which we might live in the future.

To Live Is To Be Slowly Born: Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA's Contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

The title relates to the processes of architecture, which can be slow to come to fruition and therefore one also refers to architecture and patience, and to the meaningful sustained existence of buildings in their fragile environments.

The installation is a glass labyrinth, which one crosses to reach an internal landscape. The glass is clear – therefore it is an alternate take on the architectural manifestation of the 'labyrinth': an age-old space of intrigue and discovery. It refers to the idea that although one is sure of one’s intentions - has a clear vision - the path to achieving that may not be straightforward but rather quite 'labyrinthine', in the economies and climatic zones that the architect operates in. That is, one can see clearly but cannot progress easily.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 14

Making Heimat: Inside Germany's Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale

"Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country" is a response to the fact that over a million refugees arrived in Germany during 2015. The expectations for 2016 are similar. The need for housing is urgent, but just as urgent is the need for new ideas and reliable approaches to integration. The exhibition therefore consists of three parts: the first part surveys physical refugee shelters - the actual solutions that have been built to cope with the acute need. The second part seeks to define the conditions that must be present in an Arrival City in order to turn refugees into immigrants. The third part of the exhibition is the spatial design concept of the German Pavilion, which will make a statement about the contemporary political situation. Something Fantastic will plan and stage the architectural presentation and graphic design.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 21

Critical Round-Up: Did Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale Achieve its Lofty Goals?

The XV International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale opened its doors last month. Under the directorship of Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena, “Reporting the front” asked architects to go beyond “business as usual” and investigate concealed built environments – conflict zones and urban slums, as well as locations suffering from housing shortage, migrations and environmental disasters. Clearly, the aim of this Biennale is to open the profession to new fields of engagement and share knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life.

This stance that has been highly criticized by Patrik Schumacher, director of Zaha Hadid Architects, who believes that architects “are not equipped to [address these issues]. It’s not the best value for our expertise.” But is this a view shared by the rest of the design world and its critics? What are the limits and benefits of this “humanitarian architecture”? Read on to find out critics’ comments.

The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gabinete de Arquitectura at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu NLÉ's Makoko Floating School at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu "OUR AMAZON FRONTLINE" / curated by Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse. Peruvian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 6

Video: Ascend the Ziggurat in the Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

In this film, Jesús Granada visits the Nordic Pavilion, “In Therapy”, at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The video presents a series of measured stills in 4K resolution which introduce the central installation of the exhibition—a stepped pyramid, or ziggurat—and its series of reflective "rooms without walls." The pavilion itself, which was completed in 1969, was designed by Sverre Fehn to partially reflect and concretize certain ideas about Nordic society and its architecture – including a sense of openness. This year, therefore, the pavilion has been orchestrated as an extension of the public space of the Giardini.

Monocle 24's 'Section D' Reports from 2016 Venice Biennale

In the latest edition of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, Chiara Rimella reports from the Veneto in northern Italy for a report on the best at the 15th International Architecture Biennale – La Biennale di Venezia. Covering Aravena's central exhibitions, Reporting From the Front, and the designers and curators of the 61 national pavilions, the show seeks to understand how architecture can tackle some of the pressing social and political concerns of our time.

Video: Living with History in the Russian Pavilion of the 2016 Venice Biennale

In his latest video, Jesús Granada visits the Russian Pavilion, “VDNh”, at the 2016 Venice Biennale. In the clip, viewers are introduced to the pavilion’s curator, Sergey Kuznetsov, who explains that “VDNh” is an acronym for a large area of Moscow known as Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva or Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy. Kuznetsov describes the territory as “[an] advertisement for the Soviet Union lifestyle…[meant] to meld lots of people and one nation."

Inside "The Baltic Pavilion" at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

Architecture deals not only with form. It is about data and material flows, the organization of resources, the mobilization of capacities; it organizes not only static things, but it is also a design of processes. It would be great to understand architecture as an agent with which to communicate processes of material space for the public in a coherent way. Architecture has great tools to present and explain assemblies in sections – plans, maps; architects are capable of processing quite complex flows of information.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 13

A Floating Timber Pavilion Takes Center Stage at Manifesta 11 in Zurich

On June 11th, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, also known as Manifesta, began its 100-day stint in this edition's host city, Zurich, Switzerland. The festival's center-piece is a timber raft floating on Lake Zurich, known as the Pavilion of Reflections. The temporary structure was designed and realized by Studio Tom Emerson and a team of thirty students from ETH Zurich. Constructed primarily of timber, Christian Jankowski, curator of Manifesta 11, describes the exhibit “as a floating multi-functional platform with a giant LED screen, a stand for spectators, a swimming pool and a bar.”

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 14

Gallery: Wolfgang Buttress' Relocated Expo Pavilion, The Hive, Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu

Wolfgang ButtressThe Hive, a Gold Medal-winning UK Pavilion originally built for the 2015 Milan Expo, has been relocated to the Kew botanical gardens in central London. The striking (and photogenic) "beehive" was designed by the British practice to provide visitors with a glimpse into the life of a working bee; its 169,300 individual aluminium components—reaching 17-meters tall and fitted with hundreds of LED lights—created a multi-sensory experience that shed light on the importance of the pollinator. Following its relocation, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has turned his lens to this installation and its new home.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 23

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro Meets Aldo / Inside Portugal's Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

As a response to the 15th International Architecture Exhibition’s challenging theme, Portugal presents a “site-specific” pavilion, occupying an urban front in physical and social regeneration on the island of Giudecca: Campo di Marte. In actual fact, the installation of the pavilion on-site triggered the completion of Campo di Marte’s urban project designed by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza thirty years ago.

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro meets Aldo / Curators Nuno Grande and Roberto Cremascoli. Portuguese Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Images © Laurian Ghinitoiu. NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro meets Aldo / Curators Nuno Grande and Roberto Cremascoli. Portuguese Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Images © Laurian Ghinitoiu. NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro meets Aldo / Curators Nuno Grande and Roberto Cremascoli. Portuguese Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Images © Laurian Ghinitoiu. NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro meets Aldo / Curators Nuno Grande and Roberto Cremascoli. Portuguese Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Images © Laurian Ghinitoiu. + 16

The Worst Thing About the 2016 Venice Biennale Was the Response of its Sanctimonious Critics

To many, it might seem that the goals of Alejandro Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale—as he describes it, "to understand what design tools are needed to subvert the forces that privilege the individual gain over the collective benefit"—are beyond reproach. In spite of these aims, a number of commentators nevertheless have emerged, perhaps led most vocally by Patrik Schumacher, criticizing the biennale. In this article, originally published on The Architecture Foundation's website as "Holier than thou," Phineas Harper responds to those criticisms.

The most surprising turn of the 2016 Venice Biennale was not the exhibition itself, but the reaction of its critics. Within hours of kick-off, the internet was filling up with derogatory mutterings of the show being '"worthy," "moralizing," "holier than thou’," "earnest," "’virtue-signaling" and "right on" (which apparently is an insult). The architectural Twitterati, it seemed, were unimpressed.

But what exactly were they hating on? The biennale principally exhibited practices which saw some form of suffering in the world and, through their work, in way or another, were trying to lessen it. How did such a compassionate brief generate such a miserly push-back?

NLÉ's Makoko Floating School at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gabinete de Arquitectura’s “Breaking the Siege” – Winner of the Golden Lion. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu UNFINISHED, curated by Iñaqui Carnicero & Carlos Quintáns, the winner of the Golden Lion for a national contribution (Spanish Pavilion). Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu In Therapy, curated by David Basulto and James Taylor Foster (Nordic Pavilion). Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 16

Gallery: Herzog & de Meuron's Tate Modern Extension Photographed by Laurian Ghinitoiu

Herzog & de Meuron's ten-storey extension to London's Tate Modern, which officially opens to the public this week, is the latest in a series of ambitious building projects pursued by the internally renowned gallery of contemporary art. Sitting above The Tanks, the world's first dedicated galleries for live art and film installations, the building's pyramidical form provides 60% more exhibition space for the institution. Two days before its doors welcome art-lovers from around the world, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has captured a collection of unique views on this highly anticipated addition to London's skyline.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 46

Aravena's "Reporting From The Front" Is Nothing Like Koolhaas' 2014 Biennale—But It's Equally as Good

As director of the 2016 Venice Biennale, Alejandro Aravena has sought to shift the very grounds of architecture. Rather than an inward-looking interrogation of the profession's shortcomings, as Rem Koolhaas undertook in 2014, the Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner asks us to gaze in the opposite direction—to the vast swathes of the built horizon that traditionally lay beyond the profession's purview: urban slums, denatured megacities, conflict zones, environmentally compromised ports, rural villages far off the grid.

"We believe that the advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life," states Aravena in his introduction to event. In other words, his biennale does not ask what architecture ought, yet often fails, to be, but rather what it could, yet often forgets, to do.

The "Reporting From the Front" exhibition. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gabinete de Arquitectura's contribution to the "Reporting From the Front" exhibition. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Vo Trong Nghia's contribution to the "Reporting From the Front" exhibition. Image © Francesco Galli The Spanish Pavilion. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 14

Home Economics: Inside the British Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

Britain is suffering from a terrible housing crisis – one that is an incredibly predictable outcome of decades of neoliberal economic policy. The Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has become well-known for building “half a house” – only completing core infrastructure in social housing, then encouraging residents to finish the other half with their own money over time. In effect, the first generation get a significantly cheaper home, but once the house has been doubled it could be sold at market rate. The discount, and profit, only applies to the original owners.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 19

From Chile to the World: Reporting From the Venice Biennale 2016

Grupo Talca. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
Grupo Talca. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

In early March, at the Presidential Palace in Chile, a never before seen event took place for Chilean architecture. Architects, government officials as well as the media gathered for the first Venice Biennale press conference to be held in Spanish.

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.