Biennale Pavilion Roundup
9. June 2016
In the second part of our three-part look at the major components of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, here are a dozen of our favorite National Pavilions from the 65 found in the Giardini, the Arsenale, and beyond.
See also our coverage of Alejandro Aravena's Reporting from the Front, and stay tuned for a selection of some of the collateral events worth seeing.
The Award Winners
Spain won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation with Unfinished, "a compilation of unfinished architectures to provoke reflection on how Spanish architecture has responded to the post-boom real estate crisis."
Japan's En: Art of Nexus received a special mention at the Biennale's opening ceremony. It presents a dozen projects with some great models that portray the way Japanese architects are reinventing the engawa, the outdoor space of traditional Japanese houses that exists somewhere between the public and private realms.
The other special mention went to Peru, whose Our Amazon Frontline focuses on Plan Selva, which aims to construct hundreds of schools in the region to create equal opportunities and preserve the Amazon through education.
Shades of Blue
The Pool. Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia "is more than the representation of bathing places and possibilities. It rather aims to thematize public spaces in general, including the associated public debates."
BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions proposes a fourth "D" – Design – to be added to the current guidelines for the construction of camps: Defense, Dipolomacy, and Development. The exhibition focuses on Camp Castor in Gao, Mali, as a case study.
Two controversial topics – the refugee crisis and unpaid internships – are addressed in the relatively quiet Serbian pavilion, Heroic Free Shipping. The entrance has a stack of inquiries by hopeful architects looking for work, all stamped with a pat response about a lack of availability. The main hall has been turned into a hull, a space to recharge – figuratively and literally, given numerous outlets – and ponder the meaning of global migration and labor.
Projects and Proposals
Korea's The FAR Game presents 36 projects in the Seoul metropolitan area, each one creatively performing "a high-wire balancing act" between the Seoul metropolitan area's high land values and the government's strict building regulatory system.
In Therapy: Nordic Countries Face to Face piles 300 projects completed in Finland, Norway, and Sweden in the last nine years atop wooden steps that hide the trees inside Sverre Fehn's famous Nordic Pavilion but also bring visitors close to the concrete beams that traverse the open space.
In The Architectural Imagination twelve proposals for four sites in the post-industrial city of Detroit are presented to show "that it is possible to imagine new scenarios for the city through architecture; that architecture has the possibility to catalyze change."
Beyond the Giardini
Under the title Unfoldings and Assemblages, Mexico's Pavilion in the Arsenale reports on architecture from its various fronts that are "participatory, inclusive, about processes and communities, where the architect plays an important role."
Portugal's pavilion, NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro meets Aldo, focuses on four housing projects by Alvaro Siza in Berlin, the Hague, Porto and Venice. The last, on the island of Guidecca, is the setting for the pavilion, as much a construction site as an exhibition.
Slovenia's small pavilion in the Arsenale is full of ideas. Home at Arsenale: a curated library addressing the notions of home and dwelling is filled with books addressing the pavilion's theme and acting as a setting for interviews, talks and other events.