Infinite Places – The French Pavilion | Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Place: Venezia, Country: Italy
La Biennale di Architettura di Venezia
Infinite Places - The French Pavilion
Curator: Encore Heureux Architectes
Images courtesy of the French Pavilion, Venice Biennale


The French pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale; photo © Inexhibit

Infinite Places – The French Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

At the 16th Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, France presents an exhibition entitled Infinite Places. Constructing Buildings of Places?, curated by Paris-based office Encore Heureux (Nicola Delon, Julien Choppin, and Sébastien Eymard).

Produced by France’s Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the Institut Francais, “Infinite Places ”focuses on the “rebirth” of large disused buildings and sites across the French territory.
The idea suggested by the exhibition title is that such places, and all places at large, should be considered as somewhat perpetually unfinished. Such a concept requires to change the traditional approach to the built environment and its transformation, as well as to create new regulatory instruments and building codes capable to cope with such a shift in perspective.

“I hope to free architects from all the constraints that can be imposed in on them in the effort to respect cultural heritage, the environment, and issues of security. This is the meaning of the “permission to do” which has been written into the law, and which I wish to expand. It enables architects to act according to a logic of results, instead of a logic of norms. Today, it is being applied to a certain number of domains, like fire safety. And I hope we can extend it into new fields – energy use, sound quality, or reuse of materials – to expand its general use.” French minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen says.

Encore Heureux architects

Encore Heureux’ partners, left to right: Nicola Delon, Julie Choppin, Sébastien Eymard; photo © Elodie Daguin

French Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 logo

The logo of Infinite Places, the French Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale 2018; © Jochen Gerner

The exhibition features ten exemplary projects of reuse of buildings built between 1650 and 1977. Most of those redevelopments are aimed to create new spaces and opportunities for local communities as well as to support social projects and initiatives.

The ten featured projects are: the CentQuatre public and cultural establishment in Paris (architect: Atelier Novembre), the Hôtel Pasteur hostel in Rennes (architects: Nicolas Chambon and Encore Heureux), the Grande Halle circular economy place in Colombelle (architects: Construire and Encore Heureux), the Ateliers Médicis art hub in Clichy-sous-Bois (architect: Encore Heureux), the Friche la Belle de Mai cultural project in Marseille (architects: ARM Architecture and others), the Tri Postal city for deprived people in Avignon (architect: PEROU and NAC), the Grands Voisins project in Paris, the 6B project in Saint-Denis (architect. Julien Beller), the Convention shared residential complex in Auch (architects: Jean-Marc Jourdain and Nicolas Bachet), and the Ferme du Bonheur associative free zone in Nanterre (no architect).

In the pavilion, the ten projects are presented through images, models, graphics chronologies, collaborative maps, text, and statements from the people involved at various levels in the projects, and objects directly brought from the ten sites (which Encore Heureux call the “madeleines”, citing Proust).

Additionally, the pavilion features a collaborative space, named the Atelier, which also accommodates a workshop to which representatives from the ten invited venues will participate in turn during the six months of the Venice Biennale.



Along with models, photographs, graphics, and diagrams; Infinite Places also features many objects, or “madeleines” as the curators call them, brought from the ten sites presented in the exhibition; the objects are on display on the walls of the pavilion’s entrance hall; photos © Inexhibit


The model of the redevelopment project of the Grand Voisins complex in Paris on view in the French Pavilion; photo © Inexhibit


Model of the Ferme du Bonheur site in Nanterre; photo © Inexhibit

Friche Belle de Mai Marseille French Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

The Friche la Belle de Mai project, Marseille, architect: ARM Architecture et al. (2013-ongoing); photo © Alexa Brunet


Model of the Grande Halle in Colombelle; photo © Inexhibit

Ateliers Médicis Paris Encore Heureux French Pavilion Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

The Ateliers Médicis art hub in Clichy-sous-Bois, near Paris (ongoing project); architect Encore Heureux; photo © Alexa Brunet


The model of the redevelopment project of the Hotel Pasteur in Rennes; photo © Inexhibit

Hôtel Pasteur Rennes Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

The Hôtel Pasteur in Rennes (redevelopment project to be started in 2019), architects: Nicolas Chambon and Encore Heureux; photo © Alexa Brunet


Photographs, drawings, and diagrams of the ten sites are presented in one of the side rooms of the French Pavilion; photo © Inexhibit



The second side room contains short texts by writers, artists, intellectuals, architects and other people involved in the featured projects at various levels; photos © Inexhibit


The “atelier” collaborative space; photo © Inexhibit

Coherently with the theme and principles of both the French pavilion and this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, Encore Heureux, in collaboration with Marseille-based
“Collectif Etc”, designed a fit-out which re-uses materials (mostly wood) from the Xavier Veilhan’s Studio Venezia exhibition presented in this same pavilion at the 2017 Art Biennale.


The exhibition conceived by Encore Heureux re-uses the wood panels with which the French Pavilion at the 2017 Art Biennale was built, even the pavilion’s furniture is made of plywood recycled from the old exhibition; photo © Inexhibit


16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, French Pavilion, Infinite Spaces by Encore Heureux, installation view; photo © Inexhibit

Xavier Vilhan French Pavilion Venice Art Biennale 2017 Inexhibit 06

57th Venice Art Biennale, 2017. French Pavilion, Studio Venezia by Xavier Veilhan, installation view; photo © Inexhibit

Venice, 26.05 / 25.11 2018

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16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 – pavilions, program, events

16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 – pavilions, program, events

16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 – pavilions, program, events

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