2016 Architectural Biennale opened in Venice on May 28 and will last until November 27. A lot of architects gathered in Venice as usual, including such cult names as: Tadao Ando, Alvaro Siza, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Bjarke Ingels. The event, which takes place twice a year, is a crucial event for all those people, interested in architecture and design. During the opening days, a number of well-known as well as beginner architects get together in this venue, which is the best way to get new contacts and exchange information. This year the leading theme of the Biennale is the definition of architecture in the scope of world economic crisis, social accommodation problems and rising migration.
The curator of the Biennale is a 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena. Alejandro Aravena is known for his social housing in South America. He works with the architectural group –ELEMENTAL, aim of which is to deal with the world poverty and improve the quality of residential architecture without much expenditure. They have won a number of awards for the residential complexes in Chile and Mexico. Alejandro himself has worked on this year’s Biennale’s topic with the organizational group and finally we got a title: “Reporting from the front”.
According to Alejandro Aravena, this year’s Biennale’s challenge is reinterpretation of architecture considering social, political and environmental aspects and demonstrating such successful examples, where architecture is created for changes.
Biennale has two locations in Venice. These are – ARSENALE, where this year there were a variety of achitectural firms’ works gathered in one exhibition space, including atelier Peter Zumthor, Shigeru Ban Architects, Norman Foster Foundation, Tadao Ando Architects & Associates and 80 other international architectural bureaus. Hereby were presented pavilions of Latin American and Asian representatives.
The second location is GIARDINI. Here you can find Grafton architects, Kazuyo Sejima + RyueNishizawa / SANAA, David Chipperfield Architects, Aires Mateus, Souto De Moura – Arquitectes, S.A. , Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
As for the pavilions, here you can see the unaltered pavilions of 35 countries. The majority of them are from European countries, as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Korea, etc. Unfortunately, Georgia is nowhere to be found. However, this is not the only architectural Biennale, where Georgian pavilion is not present, it is generally the case at any architectural event.
In both locations, there were similar Introductory rooms located, which Alejandro Aravena created using the second-hand remaining of constructions from 2015 Biennale.
This year’s exhibition’s subject and theme ensured that architectural pavilions were informative and medially diverse, blended with the videos, models, texts, sound and voiced installations. Most of the pavilions offer visitors informational posters, pamphlets and books.
At Bienalle the most exceptionally memorable are pavilions, where visitors can “feel” architecture and become a part of the exposition. An example of this is “The Pool Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia”. In the pavilion there is placed a small, triangular pool, where any visitor can swim into (50 cm depth) and intake the idea of the pool as a platform, where personal and communal interests intersect. In the leaflets hereby visitors can also get acquainted with the history of pool significance in Australia.
Germany could not avoid political events in its pavilion Making Heimat. Germany, arrival Country. The main message of the German pavilion is the openness and hospitality, which Germany tends to show towards migrants, expressed in providing cheap accommodation, employment places and simplified communication. Here is a lot of statistical data, information and photographs about migrants’ living conditions in different cities of Germany. To represent the concept even better, the curators made a change in the pavillion’s achitecture too, they cut four openings in the existing walls, which will always be open and 6 months later, after the exhibition finishes, the pavilion will go back to its original look.
Biennale Golden Lion was awarded to Solano Benitez’s studio Gabinete de Arquitecture from Paraguay for the best installation. Arch of brick and wood, which is the most visible example of how a diverse architectural effect can be achieved through simple and inexpensive materials.
The prize for the Best pavilion was awarded to Spain, photo series entitled “Unfinished” depicting halted or unfinished constructions since 2008 financial crisis. As one of the curators and architects Inaqui Carnicero states, in such circumstances, when you have a small budget, you have to use resources more wisely, as a result, architecture becomes more daring, radical and exciting. Spanish pavilion responded exactly to this and presented those challenges that the architects have to face in their countries.
As mentioned above, this year’s Architectural Biennale in Venice will last until November 27 and will host the visitors with plenty of pavilions and interesting news.
Author: Tata Gachechiladze
English Edit: Nutsa Namoradze