Core Exhibition at Arsenale | Venice Architecture Biennale 2018
Video projection in the “introductory room” of the 2018 Venice Biennale core exhibition at the Arsenale’s Corderie; photo © Inexhibit
Venice Architecture Biennale 2018
FREESPACE – Core Exhibition at Arsenale
The first room of the 2018 Biennale’s core exhibition at Arsenale clearly summarizes the approach by its curators, it’s a large hall that features only two large video installations, depicting the glorious industrial past of the Venetian Arsenal.
Indeed, the Arsenale exhibition is rather unadorned and its sixty-five sections, each curated by an invited architect, alternate ceaselessly in the imposing continuous space of the Venetian Arsenal’s Corderie building, laid bare. Only a graphic sign on the floor marks the exhibition space. The curators, Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara, explain why: “We have considered the given buildings as specific sites, as our context. The Exhibition is designed to reveal the qualities of the Corderie and of the Central Pavilion”.
The participants’ different approaches to the “FREESPACE” theme of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale are well represented by the projects and installations that form the exhibition. While they relate to works of very different size and typology, all the installations on view focus on the theme of the “quality” of public space, and to how such quality relate to generosity, intended as a fundamental component of the architectural design process.
But how, and by what means such “generosity” could be investigated and implemented?
We find it, for example, in projects that try to create new forms of public space such as the “bench for 100 people” conceived by Inês Lobo Arquitectos for Piazza Marconi square in Bergamo – a design which redefines the relationships within the urban realm in a new way, in public buildings including the “Avasara Academy” by Case Design with its classrooms arranged around communal spaces; in the Fuji Kindergarten by Tezuka Architects – example of an architectural design that merges building and natural environment into a whole to celebrate the vital energy of children; or in the beautiful 14-story tower, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro to accommodate a medical school, whose circulation and large internal terraces form a unified vertical strip providing abundant free socializing and relaxing space for its users.
Inês Lobo Arquitectos, Una panca per 100 persone (A Bench for 100 People), installation view; photo © Inexhibit
Case Design, Avasara Academy; installation view; photo © Inexhibit
Tezuka Architects, Fuji Kindergarten, installation view; photo © Inexhibit
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, installation view;
photo © Inexhibit
Yet, the concept of freespace can also be implemented in large residential developments – such as the audacious redevelopment project by Laura Peretti Architects for the huge Corviale social housing complex in Rome – or in projects aimed to give access to impervious pieces of landscape – such as the Transcaucasian Trail by which Gumuchdjian Architects propose a concrete alternative to conventional tourism.
Model of the redevelopment project of the Corviale social housing complex in Rome by Laura Peretti Architects; photo © Inexhibit
Gumuchdjian Architects, Tread Lightly. A linear festival along the Transcaucasian trail, model view; photo © Inexhibit
This multifarious collection of designs also includes the “reinvention” of disused buildings and sites; for example, the Sala Beckett theater in Barcelona, formerly an abandoned building which once was accommodating a workers’ cooperative, that has been restored and given back to the community after a design by architects Flores & Prats. A nice example of the creation of new free spaces is the “ Corte del Forte” designed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects, a public space for socialization built in a former military fortress in Mestre to be used by both the local community and the Biennale’s visitors.
Flores & Prats, the installation presenting the Sala Beckett theater project in Barcelona; photos © Inexhibit
Rintala Eggertsson Architects, the Corte del Forte in Mestre, model; photos © Inexhibit
The Arsenale exhibition also features large installations – sort of materialization of architectural concepts – express different visions of space; such as in the Recasting installation through which Alison Books expresses her research of beauty and proportions for residential spaces, and with the work of Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA who respond in a poetic way to the theme of the exhibition with a space defined by a transparent spiral -almost invisible to the eye, and that we perceive as weightless, airy, and ethereal – as the symbol of an architecture that doesn’t want to attract attention on itself.
Alison Books Architects, ReCasting, installation views; photos © Inexhibit
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA, Guruguru, installation views; photos © Inexhibit
We’d like to conclude with a Greek proverb, cited by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara in their Biennale’s Manifesto: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”.
More images (all photos © Inexhibit)
The installation by Mario Botta
The installation by O’Donnell +Tuomey
Alvaro Siza, Evasão, installation view
Dorte Mandrup, Conditions, installation view
The wooden installation designed by Hall McKnight
Toyo Ito, Virtual Nature, installation view
The installation by Studio Gang features samples of the wooden log facade of their Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States.
Rozana Montiel, Stand Ground, installation view
The “Wall” installation by Riccardo Blumer, Lorela Arapi, Andrea Cappellaro, and Stefano Clerici
Jensen & Scodvin, Moya Spring Water Source Roof, model
DNA – Design and Architecture, The Songyang Story, installation view
Estudio Carme Pinós, a model of the Cube tower in Zapopan, Mexico
The Weaving Architecture installation by Benedetta Tagliabue – Miralles Tagliabue EMBT
Sauerbruch Hutton, Oxymoron, installation view