Pavilion of Switzerland | 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale
La Biennale di Venezia
Commissioner: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
Curators & exhibitors: Alessandro Bosshard, Li Tavor, Matthew van der Ploeg and Ani Vihervaara
Project architect: Milena Buchwalder
Photos by Italo Rondinella; courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia
2018 Venice Architecture Biennale
Svizzera 240: House Tour | Pavilion of Switzerland
“Svizzera 240: House Tour”, the exhibition of the Swiss Pavilion, winner of the Golden Lion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, focuses on contemporary housing interior by the means of an unusual form of architectural representation, called “House Tour”, which the visitors are invited to experience.
The installation “Svizzera 240: House Tour” – the number 240 in the exhibition title refers to the standard for Swiss houses’ internal height – responds to “Freespace”, the theme of this year’s Biennale, by affirming that what is relevant in architecture is, (along with its capability to build generous spaces), that it can create representations that, by suggesting alternative modalities of spatial perception, can “extract the latent potential” from even the tightest architectural space. With its playful and provoking approach, the exhibition investigates the intrinsic ambiguity of the representation of space, in this case of the domestic space.
Over-scale rooms side by side with shrunk spaces, doors and windows of different size, the pavilion is made of a collage of room reproductions at different scales, so that the final effect is that of a dream-like built environment whose being “out-of-scale” continuously triggers the visitors’ surprise.
The design of the pavilion’s arrangement was based on an archive of unfurnished interior photographs, taken from the websites of Swiss architects; unadorned white spaces that evoke an ideal of rationality and cleanness similar to that of an art gallery or a Protestant church.
The entire installation is inspired by the concept of “representation of an apartment”, rather than on that of a real apartment; the pavilion physically embodies the ambiguity inherently present in pictures, which are unable to convey the real size and dimensions of a space, so that those who walk through its labyrinthine sequence of rooms are totally immersed in a surreal, imaginary space, thus becoming a brand new architectural subject that the curators call “house tourist”.
The jury of the Biennale Architettura 2018 has awarded the Swiss Pavilion the Golden Lion for the Best National Participation for its being “a compelling architectural installation that is at once enjoyable while tackling the critical issues of scale in domestic space.”
Pavilion of Switzerland “Svizzera 240 – House Tour”
Photos by Italo Rondinella ; courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia