Last Saturday we had the opportunity of going to the opening weekend of Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice. This year’s theme is FREESPACE and looks forward to explore the concept of generosity and our sense of humanity. Visitors can find public examples, proposals, elements - realized or not - of work that exemplifies essential qualities of architecture such as modularity, shared spaces, innovative materials and more. Here you can find our favorite pavilions, 12 exhibitions not to miss if you are planning on visiting La Biennale.
1. #VaticanChapels, Holy See Pavilion
For the first time the Holy See participates at Biennale with the project Vatican Chapels Pavilion, on San Georgio Maggiore Island. Curated by Francesco Dal Co for the Vatican, it features 10 chapels created by 10 different architects which reinterpret the theme of the "Christian chapel" as a place also for gatherings, meditation and inner growth.
2. House Tour, Swiss Pavilion
The exhibition invites visitors to explore rental homes as if they are characters of Alice in Wonderland. You can find a series of spaces with doors, windows, light switches and counters that are either shrunk or enlarged. This year, the Swiss Pavilion won the Golden Lion for the Best International Participation at Biennale.
3. No Free Space: the Singapore Pavilion
In response to this year’s theme, the Singapore pavilion asks if there is indeed ‘no more free space?’ The exhibition tells the story of how, in spite of the lack of free space due to the overpopulated state of the city, Singapore-based architects, urban planners and place-makers have found creative ways to build enjoyable free spaces for the city’s inhabitants.
4. Echoes of a Land, Mexican Pavilion
The Mexican Pavilion shows how the land is shaped by its complexity, fragility and vulnerability. 'Echoes of a Land' publishes a list of statistics: 49% of women feel unsafe in their community, 19 million are without health services, 23 million do not have basic services in their homes. Mexico accepts vast failures in territorial management and proposes a new way of doing things.
5. Vertigo Horizontal, Argentinian Pavilion
At the Venice Arsenale, the Argentinian pavilion illuminates the dark with the installation 'Vertigo Horizontal’. It explores the dialog between geography, place and architecture, creating an endless and boundless beautiful day inside a large box. Sketches on the walls show architectural projects in Argentina that have been produced since the country's return to democracy, in 1983.
6. Another Generosity, Nordic Pavilion
Filled with huge plastic air-bags rising and falling, pumped with air from bundles of plastic tubes, the Nordic Pavilion explores the geological impact of human activity. It questions how architecture can facilitate the coexistence of both humans and nature in the same world. The exhibition, called Another Generosity, aims to explore the symbiotic relationship between nature and the built environment.
7. Thoughts Form Matter, Austrian Pavilion
Public space is a social space and this is precisely why design is so important. In terms of architectural language, the quality of public space is defined by the balance between space and place. Through site-specific installations and video studios such as LAAC, Henke Schreieck and Sagmeister & Walsh they are able to address urban spaces and architecture as a built landscape.
8. Island, Great British Pavilion
The first post-Brexit pavilion questions specifically this condition of isolation, or more precisely insularity, which in the case of its commissioning country is now both geographical and political. The entire pavilion is empty. Outside the building, a bulky construction brings the visitors to the top of the building, into a suspended “island” of public space, definitely an original viewpoint over the Giardini. According to the curators, Caruso St John Architects and Marcus Taylor, “an island can be a place of both refuge and exile”.
9. Walls of Air, Brazilian Pavilion
Muros de Ar (Walls of Air) is the name of Brazilian pavilion's exhibition this year. It uses enormous posters with infographics displaying complex data on the spatial politics of contemporary Brazil. One concept under the limelight is the relationship between house prices and the spread of graffiti in São Paulo. There are silver telescopes available to provide a better view to visitors.
10. Infinite Places, French Pavilion
Encore Heurex Architects at the French pavilion looks at 10 so-called “Infinite Places.” These are evolving, communal sites, such as L’Hôtel Pasteur in Rennes where local actors ranging from athletes to artists have adapted a former university building through collective processes. Hanging on the walls, visitors can find human-size wunderkammers with objects collected from the 10 infinite places previously mentioned.
11. Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness, Indonesian Pavilion
The Indonesian pavilion is minimal yet breathtakingly beautiful. Strips of paper hang from one side to the other side of the pavilion forming long curves across the rooms of Arsenale. Visitors can walk amidst the paper or observe the curve in profile. Titled Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness, the pavilion breaks architecture down to its basics, organizing space and people around it. It's as Simple as that.
12. Grasslands Repairs, Australian Pavilion
The indigenous grasslands of southeast Victoria are recreated inside the Australian pavilion’s exhibition entitled "Grasslands Repair". The installation calls for a reassessment of the value of Victoria's natural landscape. Skylight, a "life-support system" made up of LED lights is also installed and helps the plants survive inside the building. The whole experience comes together with a screening series of 15 films on the surrounding walls, featuring architectural projects that explore the concept of repair.
These were our favorite projects from this year’s Biennale Architettura exhibition in Venice. The exhibition is opened from May 26th to November 25th. What do you think? Are you planning to go to the Biennale this year? Have you already been there? Which are your favorite projects? Share them with us on Twitter.