Behind and beyond the cohorts of tourists, Venice supplies a unique stage: its grandiose architecture combined with the lagoon creates something beyond nature itself. Or how the British architect David Chipperfield, the curator of the 13th Architecture Biennale, expresses his devotion: „The city shames us by its beauty, reminding us of the real possibilities of architecture, both as individual acts and as part of a greater vision.“
On the vaporetto towards Arsenale, the bohème Biennale crowd clashes with the habitual peak season tourists. While the alleged mutual discomfort dissolves over the shared ecstasy for the cityscape or the love for ice cream, the journey itself is already becoming a worthy destination. In this unique patrimony of architecture and urbanism, context and history of the built environment gets really tangible.
This year’s Biennale consists of a single exhibition through the Central Pavilion at the Giardini and the Arsenale. The programme focuses on talking about architecture, to help architects emerge from crisis, and offering the public a chance to look inside architecture, make it familiar and discover that we are not condemned to passive acceptance.
Common Ground was chosen as a theme to encourage architects to react against the prevalent professional and cultural tendencies that place such emphasis on individual and isolate actions - but rather demonstrate the importance of influence and continuity of cultural endeavour, to illustrate common and shared ideas that form the basis of architectural culture.
Nuggets at the 13th Architecture Biennale include:
The spectacular form of Zaha Hadid’s installation appears not as a self-sufficient artwork, but against a background of the practice’s influence ZHA considers its work as on a line of continuity with the great masters on thin shell and tensile structures like Felix Candela and Heinz Isler.
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have curated an exhibition of unlikely and sometimes mundane objects that inspire architects. They sent small boxes to 35 architects around the world, who then filled them with a selection of inspirational artefacts from their offices. These boxes were then sent on to Venice and are displayed here in a, Wunderkammer. DLDfriends Diller, Scofidio + Renfro sent their objects, too.
And then there is the preconditioned serendipity inherent to such stopovers on the international event map. By chance, you run into a presentation of Cameron Sinclair (Architecture for Humanity) who builds social sports fields varying from football pitches in Rio de Janeiro to a skatepark in Afghanistan (Skateistan). Drifting through the narrow alleys between Palazzo Bembo and the Spumante frenzy at Hotel Bauer, you bump into the Turkish designer Ayzit Bostan. Then, again, this comes as no surprise: her current work Replika quotes the curtains at Piazza San Marco and reintepretates the Hofgarten with a reminiscence to Munich’s Italian soul.
Overall, the Biennale was the ideal playground for evolving the programme and collecting food for thought for DLDcities. On September 21, DLD will dedicate a full-blown conference about the future design of cities. For further information check dld-cities.com and apply for tickets here.
The Exhibition will be complemented by 55 national participations. Four nations will be participating for the first time: Angola, the Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, and Peru.
The German Pavillon is themed "Reduce/Reuse/Recycle". It stands for a shift in value from waste to reusable material. It was commissioned by Muck Petzet, who notes: "Processes of conversion and reappraisal are taking place on a vast scale: peripheral regions are becoming increasingly depopulated. There is too much architecture and even where growth still plays a role, there is no tabula rasa." The quality of the projects shown lies in the intelligence of their strategies of remodelling and a new value system to adress existing buildings. The exhibition was designed by DLDster Konstantin Grcic.