15th Venice Architecture Biennale | Reporting from the front – p.1/Giardini

Place: Venice, Country: Italy
La Biennale di Venezia
"Reporting from the front"
exhibition - part 1 (Giardini)
curator: Alejandro Aravena
Text by Federica Lusiardi
All photos © Inexhibit, 2016

Reporting from the Front: Giardini’s Central Pavilion exhibition, curator: Alejandro Aravena

Reporting from the front, the core exhibition of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale curated by Alejandro Aravena, Director of this year’s edition, is divided into two parts, respectively located at the Giardini and at the Arsenale.

In either case, the entrance room installations clearly anticipate the curator’s vision: walls and ceiling are entirely covered by pieces (aluminum profiles and plasterboard sheets) recovered from the last year’s edition of the Art Biennale.
At the Giardini’s Central Pavilion, the entrance installation is dedicated to the archaeologist Maria Reiche, presented as an example of how creativity can provide inventive solutions to complex problems, in extreme conditions and through simple and inexpensive means.

The exhibition is quite classic in its structure; since there are no thematic sections, it essentially consists of an uninterrupted sequence of project presentations featuring those designs the curator deems particularly representative of the positive role architects can play in improving people’s quality of life. Therefore, the exhibition comprises many “rooms”, each presenting works by one or two architectural offices which embodies that social-oriented “good design” which for Aravena fits the principle “against abundance: pertinence”.

In this short review, we summarize some projects we repute particularly illustrative of the theme of this year’s edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Aravena Giardini Maria Reiche Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit

Maria Reike’s room; hundreds of small ashlars cover the walls of the entrance hall of the Giardini’s Central Pavilion; they are all made in plasterboard “salvaged” from the 2015 edition of the Art Biennale.


Solano Benitez / Gabinete de Arquitectura in Paraguay

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Gabinete de Arquitectura Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 02

Gabinete de Arquitectura Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 03

Gabinete de Arquitectura; “Teleton” project, Asuncion, Paraguay, 2010; 1:1 structure replica and moulds

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The completed structure in Asuncion, photo © Leonardo Finotti 

The constructive systems conceived by Solano Benitez / Gabinete de Arquitectura in Paraguay permits to build structures, even large ones, with basic materials such as bricks and mortar, and non-specialized workers; for example using bricks to create the ribs of hand-made “stereometric” blocks.


Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo – “Onore perduto”

Giuseppina Grasso Canizzo Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit

The small-scale buildings designed by Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo in Sicily are intended as a rebellion against the diffused mediocrity of the urban fabric.


AND – VAVstudio in Iran

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As outlined by the work of Tehran-based architects VAVStudio, the embargo imposed to Iran by the United States unexpectedly led to the development of new low-impact building techniques based on materials and components produced by the local industry.


LAN (Local Architecture Network) in France

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LAN architectes Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 02

79 Collective housing units in Bègles

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Urban renovation of Lormont Génicart distict (2009-2015)

The work of the Paris-based architectural office LAN is aimed to improve the architectural standards of suburban dwelling complexes, through both the renovation of outdated residential buildings, such as the complex of Lormont Génicart, and brand new developments, such as the collective housing units in Bègles.


Elton Léniz – Andes’ shadow

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Elton Leniz Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 05

This project for an open-air school originated from the collaboration between the architectural office of Elton Léniz and the Caserta Foundation. The objective is to give Chilean pupils the opportunity to study and socialize while at the same time escaping from the violence of the city though the contact with nature.


Kasuyo Seijima + Ryue Nishisawa / SANAA lnujima Landscape Project

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SANAA Inujima island Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 04

SANAA Inujima island Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 02

SANAA presents the design of a series of pavilions, conceived to regenerate the semi-abandoned Japanese island of lnujima by transforming it in a distributed museum of art and architecture.


Simon Veléz, and Vo Trong Nghia Architects : the language of bamboo

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Simón Veléz Architecture, installation view

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Vo Trong Nghia Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 04

Vo Trong Nghia: Human, Meditation, Nature, installation view

The work of Colombian architect Simón Vélez is focused on the extraordinary qualities of bamboo as architectural and structural material. Vélez defines bamboo as “vegetable steel”. His vision, far from being vernacular, is focuses on improving and innovating this material, for example combining it with concrete  and struggling to update obsolete building regulations in order to include bamboo as a sustainable construction material suitable also for large public buildings.

For Vo Trong Nghia, the use of local natural materials, such as bamboo, and the creation of an original architectural language are antidotes to globalization and represent a concrete solution for building sustainably.


David Chipperfield Architects – Naga site museum, Sudan

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The project by David Chipperfield Architects for the visitor center of the archaeological site of Naga, Sudan, is aimed to demonstrate that an essential and simple design can produce a “classic” architecture even where economical and technological resources are scarce.


Design Workshop : SA – Enabling Structures, Warwick, Durban

Adrew Makin Asiye e tafuleni Durban Biennale 2016 Aravena Inexhibit 03

Adrew Makin Asiye e tafuleni Durban Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit

Adrew Makin Asiye e tafuleni Durban Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 Inexhibit 02

The collaboration between the NGO Asiye e Tafuleni, founded by a former policeman in South Africa, and the architect Andrew Makin – Designworkshop : SA led to the regeneration of the Warwick Triangle, one of the most degraded areas of Durban. An abandoned overpass has been converted into an open-air marketplace though the realization of a series of infrastructures: stairs, passageways, and footbridges.

All photos © Inexhibit, 2016. Contact us for permission to reproduce


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Giardini della Biennale
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Built in 1807, the Giardini della Biennale (Biennale’s Gardens) is the main venue of the annual art and architecture exhibitions of the Venice Biennale


Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 – Reporting from the Front – INDEX

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 – Reporting from the Front – INDEX

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 – Reporting from the Front – INDEX


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