Review of Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, Italy

The 15th Venice International Architecture Exhibition, open to the public from May 28 to November 27 2016 at the Giardini and the Arsenale. Titled “REPORTING FROM THE FRONT”, is directed by Alejandro Aravena and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.

The Exhibition also includes 63 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city centre of Venice. Four countries are participating for the first time: Philippines, Nigeria, Seychelles and Yemen. The Exhibition Reporting From The Front is laid out in a unitary exhibition sequence from the Central Pavilion (Giardini) to the Arsenale, and includes 88 participants from 37 different countries. 50 of them are participating for the first time, and 33 architects are under the age of 40.

The theme image shows, a lady climbing up onto the highest steps can gaze over a far broader horizon, and by doing so conquers an “expanded eye”, in a way it represents La Biennale as a whole, with attitudes and goals. Desolated land comprising immense swathes of human habitation which no human could be proud of; great disappointments representing a sad, infinite number of missed opportunities for humanity’s ability to act intelligently. Much of this is tragic, much is banal, and it seems to mark the end of architecture. But she also sees signs of creativity and hope, and she sees them in the here-and-now, not in some uncertain aspirational, ideological future.

It is also a counterpoint to the “Angelus Novus”, image chosen for the 2015 Biennale Arte. The winged angel looking backwards in shock, seeing only the past and in the past, debris and tragedy, but also insights that could be useful some day, in a future towards which the hidden forces of providence are driving him, like a wind blowing on his wings.

Our present time seems to be characterised by increasing disconnection between architecture and civil society. Previous Exhibitions have addressed this in different ways. The 15th Venice International Architecture Exhibition wish to investigate more explicitly whether and where there are any trends going in the other direction, towards renewal; we are seeking out encouraging messages.

Curator wish into the phenomenology of how these positive examples came about, to explore what drives the demand for architecture; how are needs and desires identified and expressed; which logical, institutional, legal, political and administrative processes lead to demand for architecture and how they allow architecture to come up with solutions which go beyond the banal and self-harming.

Architecture is not an immutable discipline, as the manifestation of a formal style, but rather as an instrument of self-government, of humanist civilisation, and as a demonstration of the ability of humans to become masters of their own destinies. in human organisation, in ability to harness it, be saved by it and enter into dialogue with it. To highlight how positive outcomes have been achieved through the evolution of decision-making chains which link need – awareness – opportunity – choice – execution in a way that leads to a result where “architecture makes the difference.

The Biennale Architettura 2016 offer a new point of view. The advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life. Given that life ranges from very basic physical needs to the most intangible dimensions of the human condition, consequently, improving the quality of the built environment is an endeavour that has to tackle many fronts: from guaranteeing very concrete, down-to-earth living standards to interpreting and fulfilling human desires, from respecting the single individual to taking care of the common good, from efficiently hosting daily activities to expanding the frontiers of civilization.

Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, Reporting From The Front was about listening to those that were able to gain some perspective and consequently are in the position to share some knowledge and experiences with those of us standing on the ground. The Biennale by widen the range of issues to which architecture is expected to respond, adding explicitly to the cultural and artistic dimensions that already belong to scope, those that are on the social, political, economical and environmental end of the spectrum. And also highlight the fact that architecture is called to respond to more than one dimension at a time, integrating a variety of fields instead of choosing one or another.

National Pavilions

Albania Pavilion: “I Have Left You the Mountain”
The theme inside the exhibit initiates a conversation about the urbanism of displacement, projecting the albanian case onto an international stage, with the express intention to transmit that dialogue and its speculation back into albania. A series of beige distorted stools and benches can be seen organized underneath the suspended loud speakers. The irregularly formed benches, stools and plinths are assembled from offcuts of expanded polystyrene and sprayed in a coat pastel pink polyurethane rubber to create a tough, rubberised exoskeleton. Embodying max lamb’s recognized style, the rubber-fabricated furniture is reminiscent of plinths and ruins invites visitors to sit and engage with albania’s exhibition.

The exhibition highlights the large volume of Albanian nationals that have fled the country, following radical political shifts. In 2013, 45 per cent of all Albanian nationals lived abroad. Migration has real emotional and psychological consequences. Ten texts written by contemporary thinkers and writers have been recorded with a background to music created by the last remaining groups of albanian iso-polyphonic singers. a 12-inch vinyl record is played continuously in the pavilion as an eight-channel audio installation, filling the pavilion with the voices of albania.

Argentina Pavilion: experimentAR – Poéticas desde la frontera
Architect Atilio Pentimalli, re-interpreted the concept of “front” in a poetical way, though an eye-catching installation. The exhibition, entitled experimentAR – poéticas desde la frontera (experimenting – poetry from the border), identifies the idea of “front” with that of the open, boundless, space of the Argentine Pampa. The Argentine pavilion aims to highlight works that “have been able to win the daily battle against the codes, the lack of economic resources, the fluctuating conditions of the country, the times and the demands of the market through intelligence, intuition, work and Argentine talent to achieve a unique architecture that emerges from the depths of our thinking and our land to improve the lives of people and open new horizons.”

The exhibition display self-supporting structures made up of interlaced wooden slates, creating a labyrinth that contains “our entire universe of architectonic explorations.” The curator conceived a labyrinthine structure, made in timber and equipped with black-rubber inflatable chairs, inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ poetic idea of the complexity of the labyrinth as a metaphor of a universe that cannot be understood only by reason.

Armenia Pavilion: Independent Landscape
The Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia focus on study and re-interpretation of spatial transformations and its variations from 1991 to 2016. During the entire period of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, several multidisciplinary research teams working in the field try to cover different aspects of the Armenian landscape. This pavilion comes to showcase that at this very day and every day human activities alter the landscape. This alteration has a great potential and ambition to be transformed again and later be recognized as cultural value, which then require to be safeguarded by society and the state. Particularly this became evident in 2000 with the European Landscape Convention that pushed conceptual limits of built environment and its consequences by collaborating with manmade and natural heritage with the current environmental discourse.

The Pavilion of the Republic of Armenia at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition-La Biennale di Venezia announce the launch of a unique landscape mapping laboratory of independent Armenia, which focus on the study and reinterpretation of spatial transformations and its variations from 1991 to present.The ongoing results of thematic research was uploaded on www.independentlandscape.am website that immediately appear on the screens of the pavilion, to highlight the importance of the process and in-progress work as the result itself.

Australia Pavilion: The Pool – Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia
A multi-sensory installation, “The Pool” use light, scent, sound, reflection, and perceptual illusions to profile a number of Australia’s most remarkable natural and manmade pools. In doing, it hopes to explore the unique typology of the Australian pool, described by the creative directors as a key architectural device, a memory and also a setting… a distinctively Australian democratic and social space, a great leveler of difference. As an architectural device the pool represents a physical edge but it also expresses a social and personal frontier. Mysterious and familiar, tame and wild, natural and man-made, a pool is where the communal and the personal intersect. The pool is a vital force in Australian life, not only as the setting for formative childhood memories, family gatherings and community events but also as the stage for sporting feats that fuel the nation’s pride. A backdrop to the good times, the pool is also a deeply contested space in Australian history, a space that has highlighted racial discrimination and social disadvantage.

This is explored through the narratives broadcast in the exhibition space for selected eight storytellers. Their interviews reveal stories of fulfillment and accomplishment, of segregation and inclusion, of learning from the past and reflecting for the future, all through the lens of the pool. The Pool uncovers a vast commentary about Australia and values as Australians, and explores how this intersects with architecture. Few spaces can represent so simply and wholly the identity and passions of a nation and inspire such a complex narrative. By celebrating the cultural signifcance of pools in Australia, we seek the critical engagement of architects in a broader public debate about the civic and social value of the spaces we create.

Austria Pavilion: Places for people
The title of the exhibition, “Places for People”, refers to two Austrian architects and designers which operated in the United States during the 20th century: Bernard Rudofsky, who in his essay “Street for People” argued in favor of a more human urban planning, and Victor Papanek, who asked for a change of perspective aimed to make the physically-oriented design evolve into one based on relationships between people. If to give shelter, create liveable places and build the basis of an effective social integration have always been the key-points of good architecture, it’s then easy to understand the sense of the project Places for People.

The exhibition in the Austrian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 presents a project connected to one of today’s most debated and urgent issues, namely that of mass migration to Europe. Started few months ago, the project involved three teams of architects and designers (Caramel architects, EOOS, and the next ENTERprise architects) with the objective of developing creative approaches aimed to improve the conditions of those who seek refuge in Austria; specifically by transforming three places in Vienna, very different from one another, into spaces capable to offer both privacy and socialization. The projects, already partially implemented in collaboration with Caritas Austria, provide a model and an solution for the most urgent needs, but at the same time foster a more general reflection on the role of architecture and on its social responsibility.

Bahrain Pavilion:
Places of Production – Aluminium, through an investigation of the gestures in the production processes of aluminium, the installation in the Arsenale, using film, photography and sand-casted aluminium, is an attempt to extract a different potential of the material use. Today, aluminium cladding of high-rises and towers, and increasingly in the re-cladding of older facades, is one of the most visible expressions of contemporary architecture in Bahrain.

The first aluminium smelter in the Gulf region was inaugurated in 1968 in Bahrain and is today the fourth largest single-site smelter in the world. It continues a history of metal trade that finds its roots in the third millennium BC when the Islands were at the crossroads of the regional trade route for copper and tin. The smelter was initiated as an effort to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil by broadening the industrial infrastructure although incidentally relying heavily on the oil industry and its byproducts. The presence of the smelter, also developed a local economy of aluminium- both formal and informal. Alongside, large locally-based international companies producing typical byproducts of aluminium, smaller workshops have developed with a focus on a smaller-scale production of aluminium.

Baltic States Pavilion: (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
The Baltic Pavilion not only celebrating this beautiful fact of unity, but also highlighting that we’re living in a moment of fragmentation. The concept can be inhabited and consciously used. It has one amazing principle, which is to connect everyone with infrastructure and to circulate resources in such a way that conflicts are impossible, and should enhance our relationships through spatial organization. Ideas, or the mind space, has direct projections into material space. In the Baltics, abstract idea of unity is popular. A long time after the Baltic Way, the idealism from that time has materialized. Therefore, the Baltic Pavilion tried to bring all concerns and ideas together. Without trying to establish a finished text, but to just show the relationships between ideas and things; to have objects—artifacts—brought together in one place and viewed as material presences. At the same time, we all have one idea, one aim: to distill what kind of spatial practice would be appropriate for the Baltics.

The Palasport, the location of the Baltic Pavilion, is a pure example of Brutalist architecture. The building is named after Giobatta Gianquinto, a Venetian, a member of the Italian Communist Party and Mayor of Venice from 1946 to 1951. Its Brutalist, cast in-situ bare concrete form carried the ethical program at the time it was built in 1977. Architecture then, was concerned with communicating the development of building technology with social purposes. Palasport exemplifies the kind of statements or architectural brief issued at that time: to formulate and provide spaces for the society that were previously unavailable. In the context of the historic city, the “Palace of Sports” had a new purpose that it still carries. It is used intensively for sporting activities and communal events. The process of using the space is complex and intertwined not only with its calendar, but also with its general function for celebrating activities by groups of people. The meaning of its ethical architectural form enhances the Baltic Pavilion installation enabling it to continue adapting and changing form through time.

Belgium Pavilion: Bravoure
Belgian pavilion focusing on the theme of ‘Craftsmanship with Bravura’ and the spaces of the city. Since the industrial revolution of the mid 18th century in Europe, the machine has taken over from human beings as makers. The production of goods and buildings grew constantly with an increasingly faster pace and with a more standardised output. The debat reactions to this loss of quality and ‘soul’ of the product offers a framework from which can skillfully shape our environment with quality. Liberation can be found in the well-considered choice of materials, construction methods, techniques and by taking time.

The city reveals itself as a rich source of built typologies, materials and practices. Through enhanced collaboration between designers, makers and users, not only a sustainable basis for the future is established, but also an impulse for social cohesion in urban communities. The local and specific offers leverage against the global and generic where the ‘crafts(wo)manship’ is embedded in the collective project of building and manufacturing; the process of making the city together. The proposed project must show a communicable concept that makes the specific interpretation of ‘crafts(wo)manship’ visible and tangible at a glance. At the same time the submitting teams should make explicit how they frame this within the broad social and urban spectre and empower it with poetic and cultural registrations. The idea that emerges is nuanced, but also surprising and reveals aspects of reality that were hidden before.

Brazil Pavilion:
Brazilian pavilion highlight stories of people who have fought to achieve changes in institutional passivity in Brazil’s big cities. They have created architecture within slow processes, bringing stable solutions in a politically tumultuous territory. The exhibition is a composition of these pathways and partnerships, where activism meets architects and architecture, becoming a magnet in the preparation of a new space.

Afro-Brazilian culture, historical centers, access to culture through architecture and design–these are the stories of the Brazilian pavilion, in a search for what it means to be together (juntos), highlights Fajardo. The exhibition brings together process and their current states, which can be in designing stage, still-to-be-done, or finished. These are processes that speak of architecture, urban planning, cultural heritage, literature, social activism and technology; as a result, videos, photos, letters, articles, poems, texts, facts, drawings and data are also part of the show, composing a memorial for these lives intertwined in improving the built environment, in their communities, in search of a way of being and knowing.

Canada Pavilion:”Extraction”
The Canadian Pavilion explores the systems, spaces and scales of Canada as a global resource empire under the banner of the theme Extraction. The project shows how Canada has become a global resource empire, and how Canada has become the preeminent extraction nation on the planet. Its foreign policy today is one that is entirely based on colonial forms of resource extraction worldwide. The project calls attention to both the territories of extraction that cities rely upon and the histories of colonization in these territories. In other words, the project is entirely about land, law and territory. By miniaturizing this extensive history in a personal experience, this inverted territorial intervention magnifies territorial realities at a scale of 1:1 to elicit a deeper discourse on the complex ecologies and vast geopolitics of resource extraction. Disentangling and reconfiguring synergies between life, law, and land, a manifesto resource urbanism reimagines the surface of the state towards the 22nd century.

If extraction has defined Canada for the past 800 years since the British Magna Carta—then exchange revolutionize its future from the 22nd century onwards. Marking #TheLastVictoriaDay on May 25th 2016, the quintessential, territorial instrument of exploration, excavation, and extraction—the survey stake—was driven into the heart of empires, under the Pines and Planes, at the junction of the UK, France, and Canada Pavilions in the Giardini of the Venice Biennale. Exposing the tensions, frictions, and resistances between map and territory, this counter-monument forged in pure gold then be gifted to the Sovereign in a declarative gesture of retrocession and independence, #CrownNoMore at the close of the Biennale on November 27th 2016, the eve of Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. Retroactively, 800 years of empire building unfold below grade in a short film of 800 images from 800 contributors in 800 seconds.

Chile Pavilion: Against the Tide
Against the tide presents the efforts of a generation of young architects who have conceived, designed, and constructed works of architecture, while also arranging their financial and contractual aspects as part of the requirements for their professional degree in architecture. All they have in common is that they belong to the Central Valley of Chile, where they have returned following their academic training to contribute to their communities, creating architectural projects which connect to a set of places where the region’s campesinos and their families can live and work.

Against the tide speaks of a contrary direction that things can take. This exhibition moves against the current of those urban battles, perhaps more global in scope, waged to improve the quality of our built environment. It puts the accent rather on the customs and landscapes of the rural world, fields and forests, helping through architecture to improve the everyday quality of life of its people. These architectural projects have been erected with minimal resources, with the residues of agricultural processes and with readily available local materials, contributing value and inserting the territory into a global context through a regional ―but not a costumbrist― approach. Out of this rural landscape and environment, in a state of constant transformation due to agricultural activity and urban development, there emerges a series of pavilions, rest stops, viewpoints, lunch shelters, and squares, or simply places for shade and social encounter, ephemeral or permanent, explicit or abstract.

China Pavilion: Daily Design, Daily Tao-Back to the Ignored Front
Daily Design, Daily Tao-Back to the Ignored Front, showcase to the other side of the futuristic urban and industrial modernization of China in the last decades: that of a design which re-elaborate the country’s three-thousand-year old cultural heritage into contemporary forms. In Chinese philosophy, “Tao” could be roughly defined as the “principle” which in Chinese culture keeps the Universe balanced and which the relation between mankind and Nature should conform to. In design, Tao helps to create an ordered and virtuous relationship between objects and people, and to make nicely-conceived products accessible to as many persons as possible. Daily Design follows Daily Tao. It satisfies us in our daily lives not by introducing a new future to replace the past, but by polishing the past and integrating it into our daily lives. It doesn’t intervene, instead, it mediates communities. It makes design accessible to the majority’s lives. Architecture has a bright future on our planet, if we act abstemiously and responsibly in the present.

Therefore, the exhibition presents a series of artifacts all sharing an array of common traits: to be inspired by traditional design and techniques, to be capable to meet contemporary needs, to be extremely ingenious without blatantly appearing so, to use natural and sustainable materials. The exhibition is divided into two main sections: an exhibition of objects housed inside the pavilion, and a full-scale building prototype placed in the adjacent garden. Through a very sober exhibition layout, the first section showcases dresses, furniture, ceramics, and architectural models, displayed side by side with traditional tools and everyday objects. No doubt that the inventiveness of both traditional and contemporary Chinese design, and the intriguing cross-references between the two, would much surprise those who still regard Chinese designers as “imitators” of European and American archetypes.

Croatia Pavilion: “We Need It – We Do It”
The project focuses on the content reconstruction of three buildings, POGON Jedinstvo in Zagreb, H-building of Rikard Benčić complex as the future Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka and the Youth Centre in Split. The project deal with unfinished structures which are nonetheless continuously used for artistic, cultural and social programmes of different actors, and their architectural shaping arises through a series of interactions, interventions and minor operations by which the premises are constantly improved. The three buildings concerned was additionally explored in co-operation with the performance collective BADco. which participate at the exhibition with the trilogy “The Institutions Need to be Constructed”.

Cyprus Pavilion: Contested Fronts: commoning practices for conflict transformation
“Contested Fronts” is an exploration of architecture’s role for commoning practices in ethnically and socially contested spaces. It focuses on the agencies of architecture’s ad-hoc technologies that contribute into conflict transformation by advocating reconciliation processes to go hand in hand with urban reconstruction processes. “Contested Fronts” introduces three levels of frontiers’ investigation where architecture claims an active role: geopolitical, disciplinary and everyday urban politics’ frontiers. It addresses two major challenges emerging from the case of Famagusta: firstly to operate in actual hostile environments where institutions produce narratives based on division. Secondly, to confront actual trends of post conflict reconstruction processes based on either large scale segregating private developments or on inflexible bureaucratic, non-transparent produced plans, both unable of encouraging commoning practices nor of handling the ever changing contested urban environments.

The first process is called “Counter-mapping” that has to do with using the practice of mapping to problematize the civil society in regards dominant divisive mental geographies. The second process is entitled “Creating Thresholds” which is about practices of exchange across edges, transforming limits to alive thresholds, encouraging the opening up of urban enclaves to the city’s commons. The third process is called “Introducing Urban Controversies” which has to do with the unfolding of the positive aspect of conflict within the making of the architectural and urban projects where the urban actors are in constant re-alliance and dispute.

Czech and Slovak Pavilion: Care for Architecture: Exemplum of the Slovak National Gallery or Asking Arche of Architecture to Dance
Entitled The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance, the Biennale exhibition questions whether buildings like the extension to the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava can ever be disassociated from the political regime. A bright red model of the Slovak National Gallery forms the centrepiece of the Czech and Slovak Pavilion, which questions whether the countries’ Soviet-era architecture should be saved or demolished. Designed by Slovak architect Vladimír Dedeček in the 1960s and built in the 1970s, the bridging gallery building is seen by many as a symbol of the country’s communist era, so plans for its renovation have been contentious.

Designed by Slovak architect Vladimír Dedeček in the 1960s and built in the 1970s, the bridging gallery building is seen by many as a symbol of the country’s communist era, so plans for its renovation have been contentious. The three-dimensional model is raised on stilts to give a new perspective on the building, allowing visitors to get a sense of its arrangement of galleries, amphitheatres and courtyard. The broad spectrum of opinion the building receives from both Slovakian nationals and foreigners is represented by a series of films, played on wall-mounted screens. Different screens offer opposing strategies for the renovation of the building, which has been in a state of disrepair for a decade. One set dubbed the “fight wall” is dedicated to material related to the architects original design and the fight to preserve it, while the other is named the “dance wall” and contains proposals for its rejuvenation.

Denmark Pavilion:
Entitled “Art of Many and the Right to Space”, highlight the humanistic focus of danish design, a selection of danish architects and urban planners to present prototypes demonstrating projects that embody a humanistic approach. these schemes seek to both positively influence people’s behavior and promote a sense of community. There is not much agreement on how, when and by what means humanistic architecture should be created. By present a dynamic snapshot of danish architecture and urban planning, to explore, dissect and discuss some of the paradoxes and conflicts that come with a new humanism in contemporary architecture.’

The exhibition presents 130 architectural models, or “prototypes”, each representative of one project, divided into 5 thematic areas entitled “Beyond Luxury”, “Designing Life”, “Claiming Space”, “Exit Utopia”, and “Pro Community”. The models are exhibited in a space which resembles a warehouse, informally placed on racks made with scaffolding tubes and plywood sheets.The visual effect in that of an architectural wunderkammer in which designs by internationally-acclaimed Danish firms – such as BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, 3XN, COBE, C.F. møller, and Henning Larsen Architects – are displayed side by side with those by emerging practices.

Egypt Pavilion:
The exhibition titled Reframing Back//Imperative Confrontations, seeks to reveal various successful stories of architecture narrating the difficulties and challenges inside the Egyptian built environment. The works inside the pavilion reveal how architecture is actively creating change in communities. Nowhere are these confrontations more evident than in the urban context, and nowhere more so than in Egyptian cities. The exhibition’s goal is to re-frame and position in a global forum what we think are examples of a successful architectural and urban conflict resolution where architects, through their work, were the mediators of change, this mediation took the form of built projects, or even research proposals & mappings that attempted to highlight existing problems.

The works presented can be broken down into two large categories – mapping investigations and (built-up projects and experimental proposals). The mapping projects attempt to survey existing conditions with applied analytical lenses, evident in their representational outputs. As with recent mapping efforts, representation is viewed as a tool to think and present new information. It also entails the same potential shortcomings of mapping exercises when data is poorly researched and could advance a skewed perspective, or completely misinform. The exhibition contains a various investigation about the Egyptian urban condition including sprawl, informal urbanism, desert vernacular architecture, coastal cities, and 19th– and 20th-century heritage buildings which have been all part of the parallel dynamics of growth in Egyptian context for the past half a century.

Finland Pavilion: From Border to Home – Housing Solutions for Asylum Seekers
“From Border to Home”, an international architectural competition looking for contemporary proposals for housing especially in times of humanitarian crises. Europe’s challenge is less about building new cities than about transforming existing ones to create a more balanced and inclusive society,. In this context, architecture must regain its capacity to shape not just the design of buildings, but also the design of social solutions. By combining these two capacities, architecture can help crystallise the principles of better housing.

“Enter the Void”, a proposal by a German team Duy Tran, Lukas Beer, Ksenija Zdesar and Otto Beer focuses on the repurposing. Opportunities offered by vacant office space to meet the varying housing needs of asylum-seekers in the early stages after their arrival in the country. ‘Society Lab’ by Cecilia Danieli, Omri Revesz, Mariana Riobom from Italy proposes a cost-efficient mobile app concept to match supply with demand for housing. The third winning proposal ‘We House Refugees’ by A-Konsultit Architects, Milja Lindberg assisted by Christopher Erdman, seeks to achieve major-scale systemic changes by rethinking today’s building codes. The proposal aims to ease the housing shortage by increasing the capacity of the existing building stock in line with fluctuating levels of demand. The exhibition is complemented by a programme of talks and ‘From Border to Home’ blog, which invites architects, curators and the general audience to reflect on and expand the dialogue.

France Pavilion: Nouvelles du Front, Nouvelles Richesses
Nouvelle Richesses (New Riches), an exhibition clearly focused on the role of architecture in our contemporary society. There was a time when architecture was of course architecture for everyone, and was tied to the economy and the evolution of society. The exhibition present an array of more “ordinary” projects, developed in the last years by French architects, aimed to provide good dwellings, urban developments, and social infrastructures, at a reasonable price and with a stronger attention to the real needs of local communities, in various areas across France.

The exhibition is divided into four sections, entitled “Territories Room”, “Narrative Room”, “Know-How Room”, and “Fertile Ground Room”. In today’s France, public policies are withering away. Contemporary urbanism assembles real estate properties, whose “new look” facades attempt to mask skimpy standardization, while here and there a few hundreds of millions of dollars enable two or three couture architects to confect lavish illusions. The exhibition to be witness to the rest, less visible, yet emerging from everywhere, on all the territories. and which reveals unsuspected richness.

Germany Pavilion: Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country
“Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country” investigates an array of fundamental issues: what are the challenges the cities which receive refugees and immigrants have to face? What are the mandatory prerequisites to transform those who come from another country into truly integrated citizens? What the role of architects and urban planners in this delicate process should be? German pavilion is an open house which doesn’t close at night; a space which symbolize Germany hosts more immigrants than any other in Europe.

A response to the fact that over a million refugees arrived in Germany during 2015. The need for housing is urgent, but just as urgent is the need for new ideas and reliable approaches to integration. The exhibition therefore consists of three parts: the first part surveys physical refugee shelters – the actual solutions that have been built to cope with the acute need. The second part seeks to define the conditions that must be present in an Arrival City in order to turn refugees into immigrants. The third part of the exhibition is the spatial design concept of the German Pavilion, which make a statement about the contemporary political situation. Something Fantastic plan and stage the architectural presentation and graphic design.

Great Britain Pavilion: Home Economics
Home Economics asks questions of British society and architectural culture, a series of five architectural propositions, designed around incremental amounts of time: Hours, Days, Months, Years and Decades. Hours – The central interior space presents a new kind of shared domestic environment, restructuring the current requirements for ‘communal amenity’ in residential development. Cross-referencing research on how contemporary Britons use their homes and policies dictating minimum standards of space, the proposal reimagines sharing as potential luxury, rather than as a compromise. Days – The second proposal in the sequence imagines a new type of personal and portable space, responding to the global domestic landscape that has been created by services like Airbnb. Reflecting our increasing engagement with social media, entertainment and virtual consumption, the proposal – more than clothing, but less than architecture – demonstrates ambivalence towards its short-term physical context.

Months – The third proposal relates to short-term residencies in the context of temporary work contracts, study visas or student semesters. It imagines a new form of rent, where a flat monthly payment includes not only the use of space, but all domestic needs, tackling issues of privacy and household labour. Years – The fourth space relates to the period of years and resists the assumption of home as an asset rather than a place to live. In this circumstance the cost of purchasing a house is minimised and, thanks to a custom-designed mortgage product, property speculation is opposed: home improvements are made for the purpose of dwelling rather than profiteering. Decades – Very long-term occupancies, suggesting intergenerational life and changing conditions of technological and physical capacities, are considered in the fifth and final space. The proposal is for a house that is defined by spatial conditions rather than specific functions, to allow for a different form of flexible space.

Greece Pavilion: #ThisIsACo-op
#ThisIsACo-op responds to the challenge of this year Architecture Biennale’s theme by highlighting the importance of collaboration, of joining forces, as an essential political proposition in order to deal with the multi-sided current crisis. Moreover, it investigates, processes and displays the multiple fronts of the crisis – the refugee crisis, the urban crisis, the defeat of the right to housing, the crisis hitting the architectural profession– all interdependent manifestations of the strategy for the depreciation of space as a common good.#ThisIsACo-op is a collaborative experiment, an innovative, fresh exhibition proposal, an open, bottom-up workshop.

ThisIsACo-op, which underscores the role of collaboration in architecture, aims to understand how architects may need to unite on different “fronts” of world crises, including the refugee crisis, the housing crisis, and the crisis of the architectural profession, among others. Events hosted at the Greek Pavilion are organized into a tripartite structure: Syneleusis (assembly), Synergeia, and Symbiosis. Outside of the pavilion, the curatorial team, which is made up of members of the Association of Greek Architects, host a series of events in both Venice and Greece, throughout the duration of the Biennale, which was shown on screens in the pavilion. The site also contains a reading room, and areas where documentaries about the multi-faceted crises architecture is currently facing can be seen. Through research, meetings, and discussions, #ThisIsACo-op aims to unite architects and find solutions through collaboration.

Hungary Pavilion: æctivators. Locally active architecture
Eger in North Hungarian is a example how a group of young architects find their home in today’s world without money and commissions. Only if they create a suitable environment for themselves, from which the local community can also profit. The local government to provide with a building, with a granted a 15-year lease of the decaying building located in the middle of an old park. Outlined a sustainable model hinged on local needs: the architects had undertaken to implement a value-added reconstruction and fill the building with cultural content.

Iran Pavilion:
“rewind, play, fast-forward”, the project showcase a solution for the social, political and economic circumstances in iran have led to reduced living standards. contributing factors include vast immigration to big cities and their suburbs, and urban plans that do not take into account human and social participation. The curatorial team aim was to obtain a precise understanding of the aforementioned issues in order to understand the problems. the method is based on immediate contact with citizens, talking to residents and finding simple solutions in order to improve living spaces in small neighborhoods, alleys and streets. they believe in the importance of close contact with active local groups and associations in order to develop better plans implemented by the citizens themselves.

The pavilion is designed based on a representation of urban schemata of buildings in a reverse order, stretched from the ceiling to the walls and parts of the floor. the form is chosen in order to manifest the reverse process of reviving these residential neighborhoods. the approach is based on not returning to the past, but establishing connections between various social and local groups in order to share main problematic issues and cooperate with each other by benefiting from small successes.

Ireland Pavilion: Losing Myself
Losing Myself, a collaborative exhibition focusing on Alzheimer’s Disease, the exhibition highlights the process of “designing and revisiting buildings for people who have dementia.” The exhibit contains two main components: a website that arranges a series of drawings, stories, and research on dementia; and an installation in the pavilion, which contains drawings that explore a building designed for people with dementia. By consulted people with dementia for feedback on the website design. We have been planning, testing and adapting our drawing technique with our drafting collaborators. Designer had to accept a certain level of unpredictability and uncertainty regarding the finished product, perhaps as a consequence of attempting to represent a cognitive state which is only partially understood, using a medium that we are developing through iteration and experiment.

The installation allows visitors to experience the Alzheimer’s Respite Center in Dublin, Ireland as it is experienced by patients and their caregivers. Since patients don’t have the ability to situate and navigate themselves throughout the building, they lack the ability to understand and remember architectural spaces and processions. The installation uses time-based projection to draw the navigating experience of sixteen patients during a single day. The effect of dementia on an architect’s fixed plan “produces a fragmentary world; and, because there is still recourse to deep memory, a world that is filled with a phantasmagoric and unbidden procession of other spaces and times.

Israel Pavilion: Lifeobject: Merging Biology & Architecture
LifeObject, the project discover the relationship between Architecture and Biology, the exhibition presents an array of works which, collectively, form a dialogue connecting architecture to science, and especially to those scientific fields related to biology and bio-technologies. The centerpiece of LifeObject is an installation which combines natural elements with composite and bio-engineered artificial materials: a “living form” which reacts to the environment and, as all biological systems, is based on the concept of resilience. Such relationship is not limited to the influence than nature historically has always had on architectural forms and/or materials. Indeed, the Israeli exhibition focuses primarily on the seminal influence that biology could have on the way we conceive and design buildings, by creating a parallel between living creatures and constructions and casting a speculative glimpse on future, potential forms of innovative architecture.

LifeObject is an architectural installation, which transposes the resilient properties of a bird’s nest, through scientific analysis, into a spatial form rich with new architectural perspectives. At the core of the installation are free-form volumetric airy surfaces undulating in space that are composed out of over 1500 slender and light components, inspired by twigs; relying on tension only, they form a light-weight, porous and resilient structure. The LifeObject combines smart, composite and biological materials in the formation of a ‘living structure’ that responds to its environment. Human presence around it triggers the opening of ‘cabinet de curiosités’, revealing a variety of innovative biological elements to visitors. The LifeObject materializes a series of abstract ideas, preoccupations and potentials in present and future architectural field. The concepts proposed by the structure sketch alternative formal and structural languages informed by external disciplines. It hints at future applications and integration of biologically inspired materials that originate from various settings, scales and orientation.

Italy Pavilion: Taking Care – Progettare per il bene comune
Focused on the architecture which “takes care of people, places, principles and resources” by showcasing projects based on collaborative processes involving different groups of people sharing the same objectives. The exhibition has two purposes: to present a vision of architecture as service to the community; to demonstrate, with tangible proofs, how architecture can make a difference by taking care of people and places, principles and resources. We are thinking about architecture in the service of the common good, capable of increasing human, social and environmental capital and curbing marginalization and exclusion. Participatory, intelligent, creative and effective architecture, caring and responsible, is certainly capable of disrupting the status quo that it encounters while imagining and building a better future. And since polices become places in architecture, the exhibition is a powerful reminder of the potential of politics in everyone’s lives.

The exhibition is divided into three main sections entitled Thinking, Meeting, and Acting. The first part, entitled “Thinking. A map of the common good”, presents a reflection on the meaning of “common good” developed by a multidisciplinary team which included sociologists, architecture critics, experts of economy and ethical finance, and urban planners. The second section, entitled “Meeting. 20 examples of outer city living” is a selection of 20 projects of community architecture, designed by Italian architects, related to ten themes: legality, health, living, culture, play, environment, education, science, nutrition, and work. The third section of the exhibition, features 5 projects developed in collaboration with five Italian associations involved in fighting social marginality in suburban areas. The outcome were five mobile containers, financed through private sponsorships and crowdfunding, conceived “to bring quality, beauty and rights where they are currently absent”, and developed though a collaboration between designers and selected associations.

Japan Pavilion:en : art of nexus
“en: art of nexus”, presents a series of projects, mostly residential, which collectively illustrate the changes and challenges which are interesting the Japanese society and its relationship with architecture. The exhibition, illustrated how the country is addressing pressing issues. The starting point is the subterranean contradictions which are characterizing Japan since the early 2000s, and which include a growing unemployment rate, especially for young people, increasing social inequality, and as a diffused disillusion about those optimistic vision of the future which had characterized a country that experienced a spectacular growth and modernization for at least four decades in a row, after the end of the World War Two.

Such problematic situation is also fostering a novel approach to the relationship among people and between people and architecture. Hence, the curator has chose to present the work of a new generation of younger Japanese architects which is investigating how architecture could be an instrument to re-create a social network, based on solidarity, opposed to the diktats of an intransigent neoliberalism. A neoliberalism which many Japanese now identify with dramatic events such as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Therefore, all the architectures presented focus on the idea of sharing values, resources and lifestyles, opposed to the selfish approach to life and society encouraged by the principle of social competition. The title of the exhibition, EN (縁), is indeed a Japanese word meaning both “relationship” and “opportunity”.

Korea Pavilion: The FAR Game: Constraints Sparking Creativity
The FAR Game: Constraints Sparking Creativity. FAR (Floor Area Ratio) refers to the ratio of a building’s total floor area to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built. The FAR Game, curated by Sung Hong Kim and presented by Arts Council Korea, explores the challenges and achievements of contemporary Korean architecture, under these regulatory constraints, and illustrates the struggle of architects in Seoul who strive to improve the residents’ quality of life by utilising space effectively. For the past 50 years, maximizing FAR has been the driving force behind the sustainable growth of Korean urban architecture, and remains to be the most challenging task for the majority of architects today.

The main theme of the Korean exhibition is floor area ratio, the amount of floor space a building can offer in relation to the size of the land it is built upon. Korean installation artist Choi Jae-eun show her project “Dreaming of Earth” about the Demilitarized Zone in collaboration with Japanese architect Ban Shigeru. Her work is a miniature of her conceptual design of a 6-meter-high and 15-kilometer-long garden and a pedestrian sidewalk in the DMZ, which are made entirely with bamboo and other natural resources. Real wires taken from the zone was on display, along with the main installation and a video that was played to introduce the historical background of the heavily fortified area. Korean architects are sandwiched between a client wishing for a bigger house and the current law that constrains the FAR.

Kuwait Pavilion: Between East and West, A Gulf
‘Between East and West: A Gulf’, looks beyond the shores of the country and argues in favor of a masterplan for a united Gulf. By presenting the untold history of the region and proposing an alternate future, the pavilion casts the hydrography as a singular entity of neither East nor West, but as an untapped archipelago which defined the region and offers the greatest possibility for its reconciliation. The Gulf is not a body of water, but a field site for the experimentation and creation of identity, culture, and ecology since antiquity. Its islands were utilized by their inhabitants, as well as those who viewed them from the coasts for the purposes of tourism, trade, hunting, and resource extraction. Shrines were built, wars were fought, and prisoners were exiled within their shores. Their scale and reliance on the hinterland of Arabia/Persia, or the distant coasts of India and East Africa, meant that these grounds were continually under the entrepreneurial gaze of the surrounding continents.

The Gulf and its islands are part of one consistent landscape in which the edge condition and the notion of the limit are in flux. The result is a landscape defined by the ebb and flow of water and people, a conceivable realm whose utility was derived from the ability to imagine a purpose for islands. Feature a catalog of over three hundred islands in the Gulf, elaborating on their history and character, alongside proposals—from both young and established architecture practices in the region—for how a masterplan could be implemented across these contested waters. The exhibition feature contributions from AGi Architects, the Behemoth Press with Matteo Mannini Architects, Design Earth, ESAS Architects, X-Architects, PAD10, and Fortuné Penniman in collaboration with Studio Bound.

Luxembourg Pavilion: Tracing transitions
“Tracing Transitions” documents the current situation in Luxembourg through a spatial installation. It serves as a kind of screen in order to present subjects concerning the creation of housing, the geographical ramifications of problems, and possible approaches to solutions. Tracing Transitions addresses current housing problems in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as well as aspects for a possible transformation of the situation in the future. Habitation, provision of residential property, and socially sustainable housing are essential issues of our time. In Luxembourg, the preconditions for satisfying this need have become more and more unstable. Its geography and economic development, the competitive and high-priced property market, population growth and demographic change have turned Luxembourg into a complex and adversarial area of tension.

Tracing Transitions looks at interventions that aim to gradually diffuse the current situation. These interventions present alternatives: they are options for the realisation of housing solutions that stand in contrast to ownership or built-to-rent models; they offer different living configurations as answers to demographic changes; they question traditional and known housing types; and they make use of Luxembourg’s biggest resource for the implementation of housing, vast former industrial areas, remnants of Luxembourg’s past as an iron and coal nation. Tracing Transitions seeks indicators that signify a possible change in the production and social sustainability of housing. It is primarily a story about processes, events, and the consolidation of networks and not about full blown design solutions and neat buildings. Architecture becomes instead part of activism. And Tracing Transitions is part of architectural communication, to communicate the challenges in the production of conditions for realising the ‘good project’.

Mexico Pavilion: Unfoldings and assemblages
“Unfoldings and Assemblages,” feature “architectures assembled from fragments, modules, relations, stories, tactics, technologies and construction strategies.” The exhibit focus on work and experiences that can change, propagate and adapt, rather than closed systems or final products. The pavilion is built around a principal axis of historic manuals. The manuals, and the work connected to them, shifts the focus from architecture’s common perception of unique authors and stand-alone works. These manuals provide the knowledge for self-determination, allowing communities to build their own environments and asking what modern instruments or technologies can further bring the public into architecture.

The exhibition pavilion itself is built using the same principles of assemblage and dissemination. Using a repeating system of large structural modules and a textured honeycomb structure – all of which are made stable with rigidly flexed plywood panels – the pavilion exhibits notions of adaptability and resilience. Meditates on buildings as assemblages of materials and social relations. The demountable arenas of the Yucatán are manifestations of an existing social order. The demountable Cultural Pavilion for Migrants is a strategy to bring together dissimilar people under similar circumstances as a community. Every component of the pavilion can be disassembled, collapsed of folded for easy transportation and storage.

Montenegro Pavilion: Project Solana Ulcinj
Solana Ulcinj, reporting about this crucial project in Montenegro caught up in struggles between the local and the global, nature and culture, tourism and sustainability, economy and the social realm, offering spatial strategies that may guide new syntheses for these conflicts. As currently the Solana Ulcinj is torn between conservation and economical interests, which creates an impasse. It is therefore crucial to develop new plans for the future of the saline, which are both ecologically and economically sustainable. The Project Solana Ulcinj takes the challenge to come up with new proposals how to save the important ecological position and the unique cultural qualities of the landscape, while at the same time enabling and regulating economical interests in the area.

To generate a public debate in Montenegro, four practicesare selected. All four of them represent very different positions in the field of landscape architecture and sustainable development. This give new input to and thus enable to open up and speed up the decision making processes around the Solana Ulcinj. It also stimulate the debate about architecture and landscape architecture in Montenegro and establish an international exchange.

Netherlands Pavilion: BLUE: Architecture of Peacekeeping Missions
Malkit Shoshan has been dedicated to analyzing the particularly progressive way that the netherlands contributes to the UN’s peacekeeping activities. The UN is responsible for hundreds of active peacekeeping missions across the globe. typically speaking, these are military bases that stand as self-sustaining communities, completely shut off from their direct surroundings. it is the particularly extreme design of these compounds that mirrors the power structures and systems of peacekeeping forces; schemes that do not contribute to improving the lives of the inhabitants of these regions. the UN talks in terms of ‘guidelines for the integrated approach’, uniting defense, diplomacy, and development. it is through her work that shoshan is urgently seeking new spatial solutions that provide social significance for these local communities, proposing the addition of a fourth ‘D’ for design. the hope is that the UN base comes to be realized not as a closed complex, but a catalyst for local development.

Therefore, the exhibition focuses on the role architecture could play in developing strategies and solution to help populations living in conflict areas. The approach proposed by Malkit Shoshan suggests to add “Design” to the terms “Defence, Diplomacy, and Development” that traditionally constitute the so-called “Integrated Approach” on which UN’s peacekeeping missions are based. By examining the case-study of the Netherlands-led Camp Castor in Gao, Mali, as well as by presenting conversations with military engineers, anthropologists, economists, activists, and policy makers, the exhibition investigates the contribute architects could provide to the design of peacekeeping compounds, and the role those structures, usually “sealed” from the territories around for security reasons, could play to establish connections with and to improve the life conditions of local communities.

New Zealand Pavilion: “Future Islands”
Lyrical and evocative, Future Islands sets out to establish New Zealand as innovative, creative, forward-thinking and bold. It is a story about New Zealand, but a conceptual connection to Venice is at its heart. The exhibition’s structure is derived from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a book framed around a conversation about cities and life between Marco Polo and the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan. Over nine chapters, the famous Venetian explorer recounts tales of 55 wondrous cities he has seen, the conceit being that all the stories are fictional descriptions of Venice. As a response to Calvino’s 55 “cities”, Future Islands feature 55 architectural projects, deployed on nine “islands”, multiple representations of New Zealand and its evolution within global networks. Island of memory, island of longing, island of prospect and refuge, island of hospitality, (un)natural island, island of making and unmaking, emerging island, re/claimed island, and the last island…

The island elements afford multiple readings — as water, landscape, forest, clouds, volcanic fields, bodies, buildings, artefacts, texts, furniture, and evince a floating and dream-like quality. Islands have always provided real sites for different ways of living, and imaginary sites for possible ways of living differently. They have inspired romantic and utopian narratives, and they have always been, literally, places of discovery. In this spirit, the exhibition present contemporary architectural practice in New Zealand and explore future directions for New Zealand’s architecture. The exhibition, which include built work as well as visionary or as yet unrealised projects, was staged in an historic Venetian palazzo, and was accompanied by a series of symposia and cultural events and an international media programme.

Nigeria Pavilion: ‘Diminished Capacity’
“Diminished Capacity” intends to analyze an historical transaction moment with the ambition to rewrite history. In the condition rewrite history becomes a necessary evolution. The wrong reading of Africa transforms continent itself in a country poised in perpetual opposition to restlessness; what is its identity being a ghetto in forms and structures unsuitable.

Conflict is one of the recurrent themes in the work of Ola-Dele Kuku. The architect-artist sees that as one of the driving mechanisms in our world, and as a tool to set change in motion. Conflict has played a crucial role since the dawn of creation, just think of the stories of the Big Bang and the paradise of Adam and Eve. Throughout his practice, Ola-Dele Kuku has consistently re-shaped representation in a timely challenge. Working with both drawing, installation and sculpture, he has revisited the mainstays of architectural representational methods, plan, elevation, section, to inject unsettling slippages into their rigorous formalism. This new body of work fully embraces an analytic socio-philosophical visceral slant, confronted complex issues such as resource depletion and their manipulation, migration, micro and macro global changes, an alternative vision of west Africa, growing impoverishment and the diminished capacity of a country in a multiplication use of manipulation strategies.

Nordic Countries (Finland Norway Sweden) Pavilion: In Theraphy – Nordic Countries Face to Face
“In Therapy” addresses a common challenge faced by Finns, Norwegians and Swedes today: how can a building (or an exhibition, in this instance) exist in a dialogue with its setting when that setting is so charged? For us, this ties into a broader question: how can architecture occupy a legacy while still making progress? “In Therapy” treats the Pavilion as an extension of the public space of the Giardini. The central installation of the exhibition—a step-pyramid built using traditional construction techniques from Swedish pine—precisely mirrors the treads and risers of the existing staircase to create a profile-amphitheatre for critical debate and reflection. The exhibition aspires to deflect the monotony of the archetypal ‘stand-and-look’ show by creating a clearing amid the congestion to reflect on the material that’s been gathered and the voices convened. The central installation, the pyramid—is not only an urban artifact but also a display; an inhabitable installation to be investigated and explored.

Architecture, at least in the form and quantity that has been convened here, might best be experienced in a state of distraction. The Nordic nations have been placed in therapy. Although it might appear that Finland, Norway and Sweden are at the pinnacle of the pyramid—having achieved a state-level balance between a capitalist society and the welfare state, revered the world over—they also face complex challenges. From concerns relating to demands on immigration and social integration, to an ageing population and realignment in a newly, or soon to be, post-industrial economy, “In Therapy” has brought together unconscious and conscious elements (the pyramid of projects and a collection of reflections, respectively) in order to tease out the connections and conflicts between architecture and Nordic society at large. It is architecture—in its broadest role as a spatial, social, and cultural practice—which sits at the center of this discourse.

Peru Pavilion: “Our Amazon Frontline”
Our Amazon Frontline, refers to a vast cultural, social and environmental project aimed to protect the Amazon rainforest and to involve local communities into the process. A public project started in 2015 and promoted by the Ministry of Education of Peru, aimed to built hundreds of schools in rural areas of the Amazon region, remotely located and often lacking even the most basic infrastructures. The project is an attentive dialogue with the Amazonian communities. It proposes a kit of modular parts that allows adapting to particular pedagogic requirements, topographical conditions and size of communities. The result is a climatic-sensitive modular architecture, respectful to the Amazonian way of life. This project relies on architecture for a massive educational program, restores dignity to a population that was historically relegated and offers a space for the balanced encounter between two apparently irreconcilable worlds.

The visitors follow a ribbon printed with the faces of the Amazonian children by Musuk Nolte, and the footprint of the jungle, the “Amazogramas” created by Roberto Huarcaya. This ribbon is suspended from a wooden canopy, in permanent equilibrium. Also suspended, a group of tables and chairs brought from the Amazonian schools, reveal the precarious and harsh conditions in which teachers and students interact today. The balance of the fragile and undulating ribbon compels us, as in the Amazon rainforest, to be responsible for preserving its balance. Accompanying this architectural action, the exhibition immerses us in the Peruvian Amazon through visual actions that show the immeasurable mystery of its inhabitants and give a true ” radiography ” of the impenetrable lushness of the jungle.

Philippines Pavilion: Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City
Traces of an adolescent city, present and probable future of nine cultural markers in Metro Manila. By make a difference in improving the quality of both built environment and people’s lives, aspires to be a platform for a collaborative and collective act of reflection about the built environment on the edge of the precipice. In tracing each Muhon through its History, Modernity and Conjecture, the exhibit aims to grapple with the search of identity through the built environment within the context of an aggressively expanding megacity. It proposes to distill and abstract the essence of the city’s cultural markers to interpret their meaning and to discover the presence or relative absence of value.

Poland Pavilion: “Fair Building”
What if a building could be certified “fair trade” like many other commercial products? The building industry, despite all technological improvements, still largely relies on manual work; yet, besides national regulation for construction site safety, the construction process is nevertheless characterized by high levels of uncertainty and insecurity. A large part of the Polish pavilion is occupied by scaffolding, which supports an array of monitors presenting the curators’ research; a second space was designed to resemble a fictional estate agency. The exhibition focus on create a space to reflect on how to make this process not only effective but also fair, rather than looking for culprits responsible for the abuses occurring at the various stages of the construction process. Therefor Visitors are invited to watch the films within a large scaffolding structure, which fills the main exhibition room of the 1930s-built Polish Pavilion. Rough wooden boards provide seating, encouraging people to spend more time.

The construction worker is the one of the most underrepresented participants in architecture, with working conditions and respect often overlooked in favour of deadlines and budgets. To show the extent of this, they produced a series of documentaries about different construction sites in Poland. These films show footage of working conditions, many of which induce a sense of vertigo. They show builders putting themselves in potentially life-threatening situations, in the use of heavy machinery and atop high-rise structures. The films also include interviews where builders share their personal experiences, ranging from the length of the working day to training and payment. By presenting the stories of persons directly involved in the building process, the project ask whether fair trade is achievable in the field.

Portugal Pavilion: Neighbourhood: Where Alvaro meets Aldo
The pavilion exhibits four notable works by Siza, in the field of Social Housing – Campo di Marte (Venice); Schilderswijk (The Hague); Schlesisches Tor (Berlin); and Bairro da Bouça (Porto) – exposing his participatory experience as a peculiar understanding of the European city and citizenship. These projects have created true places of “neighbourhood”, an important subject of the current European political agenda, towards a more tolerant and multicultural society. Siza developed those concepts in contact with the Italian architectural culture, particularly with the conceptual legacy of Aldo Rossi, whose important essay The Architecture of the City was published exactly fifty years ago.

Siza designed a urban fabric based on the elongated structure of the old cadastral division, layout from the Giudecca Canal to the Lagoon and resuming some architectural archetypes of the island. Siza learned to identify the typological invariants of the popular housing fabric of inner Giudecca and from which emerged the churches and palaces at the borders of the canal and the lagoon. Siza opted, in his general plan, for a cohesive urban composition, height uniformity and windows arranged in a constant rhythm along the extensive facades. This “meta-project” was later interpreted by Aldo Rossi, Carlo Aymonino and Rafael Moneo, invited to design different buildings adjacent to the quarter assigned to Álvaro Siza, in Campo di Marte.

Romania Pavilion: Selfie Automaton
The exhibition consists of 7 mechanical automata, featuring 42 built in marionetes, 37 human and 5 creatures. Three of the automata was placed in the Romanian Pavilion in Giardini, another three in the New Gallery of the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research, and one nomad that wander through the streets of Venice. Caricatures of characters, fantastic animals, golden eggs, music boxes and mirrored reflections are assembled in predefined show parts that place the visitor on stage, in various positions, as dynamo and puppet in the same time. The authors thus propose a generic portrait of social relations, stereotypes and wishes, broken into pieces, to be reassembled by the user’s imagination, in an introspective self-portrait, or perhaps a selfie. It could be all just entertainment or it can be seen as an absurd show. It raises a few questions, but it certainly does not give answers.

To define the role that was given to marionettes in the exhibition, the authors of “Selfie Automaton” approached puppetry, where it is common for the manipulator to play with the meanings and possibilities of control. “Selfie Automaton” reflects on the characters and actions embodied by the puppets that are nothing but dispersed parts of our own and can be combined or split, in search of a self-portrait, be it of an architect or of anyone else. Handles and pedals make the various shows possible, when provided with one human power. What remains, still, is the question of predetermined patterns. Whether they really exist, whether we are part of them, their victims or their generators. The exhibition positioning the visitor in various relations with its objects of entertainment and himself, from leaving him the comfort or discomfort of the distant observer, up to making him a giant ballerina in a micro banquet, a victim of a Kafka-like commission, or a beggar of wishes.

Russia Pavilion: V.D.N.H.
V.D.N.H. Urban Phenomenon, examine the park’s global significance “given that the whole world is concerned by the question of how to develop society’s intellectual potential and how to create effective mechanisms for cultural assimilation. The V.D.N.H. does not merely provide citizens with leisure, but has an educational and cultural mission. The coherence of this urban ensemble, the diversity of its public spaces, and its necklace of national and thematic pavilions create a territory which is capable of accumulating and multiplying society’s intellectual and cultural energy, and it is this which in the final analysis is helping us win the battle for quality of life. The exhibition involves art and multimedia technologies to talk about the past, present, and future of the V.D.N.H. In addition, a section dealing with the history of the exhibition present artefacts from Soviet times while there also be a video installation immersing visitors in the atmosphere of the V.D.N.H.

Today, VDNH area is actively being renovated, attracting audience with the aid of urban planning means, architectural and educational techniques. The experience has shown that this method proves to be successful: when primitive pleasures are replaced with intellectual ones, visitor numbers are growing. The study of this process has become the main theme of V.D.N.H. URBAN PHENOMENON Project: when we acquaint visitors with the unique atmosphere of the exhibition, its rich history and unique artifacts, at the same time, we explore the mechanism to create a space of culture and equal opportunities, which meets the needs of modern people. The exposition of the Russian Pavilion not only focuses on the stages of the complex formation, but it also serves as a laboratory where strategies for its future development are being devised.

Serbia Pavilion: Heroic: Free Shipping
The exhibition as a moment of total passion and youthful enthusiasm to expose our own insecurities about the difficulties in finding work in architecture’s present job market. The project puts the architectural profession into focus, by reporting from its own ranks regarding the problematic contemporary social position of architecture and noting the necessity of finding new possibilities for action. The hull-like interior of Serbian pavilion, which recalls the Biblical tale of Noah’s ark: The flood is afoot. The insides of the arc, hideout of the rebellion, radiate hope. Trench of the revolution has been drawn,from the lower deck we row towards the treasure, bathing in Blue, which has no boundaries and not a single drop of bad blood.

The ark is constructed from plywood and oriented strand board, and coated in a layer of ultramarine blue resin. A joint sailing route is presented as a possible exit from the front of the omnipresent feeling of systemic constriction and anxiety. A soundtrack of clattering keyboards fills the space, while 28 plug sockets are installed along the curved edges of the installation – both intended to pay tribute to the hard work of architects across the country.

Seychelles Pavilion: Between Two Waters, Searching for Expression in the Seychelles
Between Two Waters, Searching for Expression in the Seychelles, the exhibition faces the Grand Canal and transports visitors to the 115-island archipelago, the least populated nation in Africa, exploring the identity of this nation while also investigating the architecture of every day life in the paradise islands. The exhibition contain a partially constructed shelter that incorporates elements of vernacular architecture and hundreds of posted messages from Seychellois residents and visitors, spanning across both ethnic and generational boundaries. Pictures, which represent the culture of the nation, display how architecture has changed over time, similar to the ebb and flow of the water around them. Seven projects of a range of typology and program are also featured, acting as representations of the architecture that has emerged as Seychelles searches for its voice in the built environment. A video describing the ongoing negotiation between fantasy and reality, represented by two waters, the rain and sea also be displayed.

The pavilion opens a window to the clashing paradigms faced by architects in the paradise islands, inviting visitors to confront an architecture of everyday life. Looking beyond the extravagant vacation economy and environmental catastrophism that dominate popular perceptions of the islands, longtime Seychellois firm gives architectural voice to the local context. A video narrates an ongoing negotiation between fantasy and reality, represented by two waters—the rain and sea. A partially constructed shelter incorporates symbolic elements of vernacular architecture and features messages from hundreds of Seychellois residents and visitors, spanning generational and ethnic boundaries. From beneath a corrugated roof, visitors can observe in moving images the polarized contradictions of lifestyles that find shelter in Seychelles today. The result is a hybrid of cultures and a charming architectural bricolage.

Singapore Pavilion: At The ‘Home Front’
“Space to Imagine, Room for Everyone” goes behind its infrastructures, modern cityscape and beyond the walls of private abodes to look at how the city and its people are interacting and using the environments. The theme celebrates people and their creative actions in forging social bonds, new identities and connections to place. The Singapore Pavilion showcases a selection of works in three segments: People and their Homes, People working the Land and People engaging the City. In two broad themes (archetypal terrains), at every scale, in the boundary between the private and public realms, actions like participation, contestations, activations, appropriations, transgressions and occupations are enacted. All these happen in the building and urban fabric, on the grounds, in the void decks, in the private abodes of their housing estates, and in their public spaces. The aim of this “battery of actions” is to forge a new society built on the gains of the previous more austere generation.

The 240-square-metre Singapore Pavilion, located at the Sale d’Armi building at the Arsenale region, features a centrepiece display of 81 customised lanterns illuminating photographs inviting visitors to have a look into the homes of each family to discover their ordinary living and the space they call their own. Artefacts and interview footage are parts of the exhibition too. They narrate the stories of citizens and families stepping out and taking actions to adopt and own their environments, such as mud-bricks made by the community for the walls of their new building. In n turning Singapore inside out, they move beyond from being productive and technocratic, to be creative and egalitarian. Thus, these “battles” at the front is a poignant visual account of their human capacity building, in looking at the past with new eyes, and broadly, in their attempts to humanise the environments of Singapore.

Slovenia Pavilion: Home@Arsenale
The slovenian pavilion features a latticed library that examines the role of the ‘home’ in the year 2016, addressing domestic topics as critical, social, and environmental issues. Architects, artists, critics and curators from various backgrounds are participating with their selection of books addressing the prescribed notions of ‘home’ and ‘dwelling’. participants, including tatiana bilbao, pezo von ellrichshausen, and konstantin grcic, are invited to become temporary residents of the installation for one hour to one day, hosting live events that question what defines a contemporary residence.

Since the dawn of civilization, structures for dwelling have constructed the predominant part of our built environment, and have served to fulfill our most basic needs.They should aim beyond securing mere survival to provide the conditions necessary for a meaningful life.’ after the biennale, the installation — and its 300 books — relocate to the museum of architecture and design in ljubljana, to be continually available for public use. The installation inhabits its arsenale location with a spatial structure containing a collection of domestic books and objects. the full-scale scheme, composed of wooden bookshelves, performs as both an elevated library and an abstract dwelling that encourages visitors to inhabit its latticed structure. the library challenges conventional private/public divides with a temporary public environment.

South Africa Pavilion: Cool Capital: The Capital of Guerilla Design Citizenship
“The Capital of Uncurated Design Citizenship”, showcases a selection of projects from Cool Capital, presents successful physical outcomes and practical solutions to urban challenges, an urban experiment and labour of love for Mathews and a small team of dedicated architects, artists and designers. Cool Capital’s urban laboratory is Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital city situated 60km north of Johannesburg. Often overlooked as an international tourist destination, Pretoria is a typical landlocked capital city: The perception exists that this city, populated with historic government buildings, stoic monuments and many reminders of an uncomfortable past, is suspended in a bygone and uninspiring time-warp. The South African pavilion proves that by short-circuiting the usual bureaucratic processes of permissions and approvals, a city can be effectively democratized in a creative sense, leading to substantial and sustainable empowerment, and above all, a new type of social cohesion for South Africa.

Aravena’s creative call refers to the power of citizens to become active agents in the making, shaping and re-imagining of their own built environment, and it is exactly in this spirit that Cool Capital was launched. Starting out with with relatively few participants, the project quickly mushroomed into a city-wide movement with over 1000 active participants and an ever-increasing social media following. Locally referred to as the world’s first uncurated, DIY guerrilla biennale, Cool Capital’s intent was simple: to dislodge the bureaucratic relationship between citizens and public space and to encourage a new appreciation of where they live. The project encouraged citizens to rediscover marginalized or forgotten parts of the city and to collaborate and become active agents in the creative rethinking of Pretoria as home, place, destination and capital city. All of Cool Capital’s projects either challenged, celebrated or leveled the status quo.

Spain Pavilion: Unfinished
Winner of the Golden Lion Award
Unfinished, focuses on the large number of uncompleted and/or abandoned buildings in Spain, a consequence of the frantic expansion of the construction industry the country was experiencing before the financial crisis of 2008. The lack of a long-term planning strategy and a reflection on the real usefulness of those projects, often conceived with the sole purpose to get a short-term profit, produced an enormous number of buildings abandoned just after the crisis begun, because there was no longer an economic reason for their completion and/or maintenance. The exhibition presenting projects which have been able to create novel opportunities from this modern ruins, transforming and converting them into something eventually capable to meet Spanish people’s real needs instead than fascinating them with a fake architectural “grandeur”.

The exhibition gathers examples of architecture produced during the past few years, born out of renunciation and economy, designed to evolve and adapt to future necessities and trusting in the beauty conferred by the passage of time. These projects have understood the lessons of the recent past and consider architecture to be something unfinished, in a constant state of evolution and truly in the service of humanity. The current moment of uncertainty in our profession makes its consideration here especially relevant. The themes of unfinished, proactive design, and constant transformation are perfectly expressed by the exhibition architecture , composed of metal profiles and photographs framed in pale wood to form a series of “incomplete matrices”. Additionally, in a separate room, video interviews to architects, academics and architectural critics are projected onto a pile of cardboard boxes.

Sudan Pavilion: Nubia, The Displaced Kingdom
The exhibition fundamentally questions the elegance of containment and the reasons why a classic approach in architecture makes sense in remote situations. the new museum is primarily designed to protect excavated objects from the tough conditions caused by sun, sandstorms, rain and looters. the exhibition offers an overall impression of both the scheme and its context. it includes models, interviews with individuals connected to naga, a film focusing on the archaeological excavation, as well as a small range of objects from the excavation itself.

Naqa is an ancient city in modern-day sudan. only accessible via sand tracks, it sits about fifty kilometers east of the nile and is one of the largest historic sites in the country with remnants and ruins of an ancient city that was once one of the heart of the kingdom of meroë. the desert landscape is framed by a mountain, and apart from a small watch house and a temporary archaeologists’ building, the area appears completely unspoiled. Chipperfield delivers a classic type of architecture that aims to transcend trends and stand the test of time. he starts the description of his project for the ruins of naqa by stating that there is nothing less appealing than a visitor center. as a result, the scheme instills a simplicity, pertinence, and a sensitivity that cares for the ancient landscape. once the museum is completed, it illustrate an example of dealing with a strong valuable heritage in places with limited resources.

Switzerland Pavilion: “Incidental Space”
“Incidental space”, underlines how depiction of the built environment can alter the very nature of architecture, the interactive installation is aimed at investigating the possibilities, both in terms of technical feasibility and the limits of our own imagination of how to think, build and experience architecture differently. In recent years, architects’ creative latitude has been greatly reined in by an enormous—and growing—burden of rules and regulations. The fact of the exhibition space’s autonomy, and its distance from the everyday world of public and private architecture, has a potential as a base for autonomous thinking and acting that is increasingly being recognized and put to use. in this case, autonomy is not to be understood as the self-referential l’art pour l’art, but as a protected opportunity for deviance, a pre-requisite for the success of new forms of socialbility in a highly technologicalized world of such complexity that no one can have a sole overview anymore.

“Incidental space” is an experience that takes place at a specific location, justifying itself there, standing only for itself, as a claim or a thesis; not to serve as an illustration of some other space beyond itself, or gesture toward some particular tendency in architecture. The project attempts to explore the outer limits of what can be achieved in architecture today, asking questions such as: ‘how can you use the medium of architecture to contemplate an architectural space that is entirely abstract and as complex as possible?’, and ‘how could this kind of imaginary space even be visualized, and how could it be produced?’. By offering a small space with maximum possible complexity and with infinite interior extension. a space whose visual character cannot be something easily decoded, ensuring that it does not depict or represent any other space, but defies univocality and withdraws itself from any unambiguous legibility. ‘incidental space’ in no way corresponds to what architecture has been considered to be architectural space.

Thailand Pavilion: Class of 6.3
The Pavilion of Thailand resembles a hay field rippled by the wind. Hundreds of thin poles, placed in the middle of a darkened space, slowly oscillate after the visitors inevitably brush against them while passing through. Yet, it is not an allusion to a peaceful landscape, but to the sense of uncertainty and precariousness that remains after an earthquake.

In 2014, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand, destroying private and public buildings. After that dramatic event, the association Design for Disasters started a project by asking nine Thai architects to design nine school buildings, in team with designers, engineers, educators, and school directors. The exhibition presents those projects: nine earthquake-proof elementary schools, all built with the involvement of the local communities, which both re-create proper educational spaces for the children and stimulate a reflection on the relationship between good architecture and educational process.

Turkey Pavilion: Darzanà: Two Arsenals, One Vessel
In the Pavilion of Turkey, a vessel, Baştarda, has been constructed out of abandoned materials found in the old dockyard of Istanbul and transported to Venice to suggest a new connection in the Mediterranean. Measuring 30 metres in length and weighing four tons, the vessel was built from more than 500 pieces including seven kilometres of steel cable and abandoned materials found on site including wooden moulds, discarded furniture, signboards and boats.

The project title Darzanà means dockyard and it is a hybrid word, originate from the common language that developed in the Mediterranean from the 11th to the 19th century among people such as sailors, travellers, merchants, and warriors. Known as Lingua Franca, this was a shared language when Mediterranean was the main vessel connecting the surrounding cultures. In the same vein, it is possible to talk of a common architectural language and to define it as Architectura Franca. Despite their very different identities and populations today, Venice and Istanbul once both featured considerable dockyards of similar sizes and production. The shipshed is the building block of a shared architectural heritage; its proportions grow out of the dimensions of boats and of common building technologies. Darzanà links a shipshed of İstanbul with a shipshed of Venice by a vessel. For the project Darzanà, a last vessel, Baştarda was built earlier this year at an abandoned shipshed at the Haliç dockyards in Istanbul.

Ukraine Pavilion:
The exhibition begins a dialogue on a crucial issue of our time: envisioning the future of cities in places of ongoing conflict. Do architecture and design play a role in the existing state of affairs? Can we make fundamental changes to the presuppositions that determine the way we live and thrive in the urban environments of our regional conflicts? Izolyatsia. Platform for Cultural Initiatives proposes to bring greater visibility to the complexities of these embattled contexts. the conflict in Ukraine serve as a catalyst to further a much needed and deeper consideration of the contemporary built environment within the Rust Belt of the Donbas Region? Architecture Ukraine – Beyond the Front expands on this material by applying investigations developed during the residency to Izolyatsia’s home city, Donetsk.

The exhibition presents the results of the international residence Architecture Ukraine, held in Mariupol in summer 2015, as well as materials and interviews related to architectural opportunities and urban challenges of life in Donetsk, which were obtained from open web sources. Project reflects on what is happening “beyond the frontline” by juxtaposing the stories of Mariupol and Donetsk, neighbouring cities of the Donetsk region, now placed on opposite sides of the fragile borders. The exhibition consist of data visualisations, interviews, models, film and printed material to engage the visitors with the diversity, history and culture of the Donbas region of Ukraine. New methods of understanding and describing cities promote and inform radical approaches to re-envisaging our built environments. The exhibition hopes to confront anthropological, economical, social and cultural history while analysing social and geographical boundaries that limit or expand the cities’ dynamics.

United Arab Emirates Pavilion: Transformations: The Emirati National House
The exhibition explores the transformative aspect of the housing model of Emirati National Houses, known as sha’abi (folk) houses. It’s focus is on how a standard housing model was adapted by residents to individualized homes, thus reflecting their culture and lifestyles. This housing type was introduced in the 1970s to settle a transient population, and urbanize a newly emerging nation. Architecturally it was based on a simple diagram: a courtyard housing typology derived from traditional precedents. As residents’ needs evolved, a series of changes took place. These were functional: addition of rooms, enlargement of living spaces, and the raising of enclosure walls to ensure privacy. Other modifications were for aesthetic or symbolic reasons; replacing entrance doorways, repainting outer walls and elaborate landscaping. The house reflected its inhabitants’ needs, culture and lifestyle. Modifications resulted in visual diversity, moving away from a monotonous appearance. In presenting this case the pavilion hopes to first, move the discourse concerning the urban environment in the UAE to one that is grounded in the everyday life of its citizens.

Secondly, to present an example in which architects have provided residents with the necessary tools to modify their own environment. The story of the national house is told through three thematic sections: a historical part documenting the origins of these houses; a neighborhood/city scale showing the diversity and prevalence of this housing type throughout the UAE; and lastly the house/building scale enabling visitors to experience the architectural and urban qualities of the Emirati National House. The exhibition features historical and technical materials including detailed architectural analysis of a current national house, archival newspaper clippings documenting the initial start of the National Housing program, and 1970s photographs by Dutch photographer Gerard Klijn. Additionally the exhibition includes a specially commissioned series of new images by Emirati photographer Reem Falaknaz.

United States of America Pavilion: The Architectural Imagination
The Architectural Imagination is an exhibition of new speculative architectural projects designed for specific sites in Detroit but with far-reaching applications for cities around the world. The exhibition emphasizes the importance and value of the architectural imagination in shaping forms and spaces into exciting future possibilities for all Detroit citizens. Detroit was once a center of American imagination, not only for the products it made, cars and music and much more – but also for its modern architecture and modern lifestyle, which captivated audiences worldwide. Now, like many postindustrial cities, Detroit is coping with a changed urban density and image that has generated much thinking in urban planning. Nonetheless, having emerged from bankruptcy, there is new excitement in Detroit to imagine the city’s possible futures, both in the downtown core and in its many neighborhoods.

Believing in the potential of architecture to catalyze change, the curators selected visionary American architectural practices to address these futures. The architects worked with Detroit residents to understand neighborhood aspirations before devising the programs and forms exhibited here. The projects not only demonstrate the value and diversity of the architectural imagination but also have the potential to spark the collective imagination, and thus launch new conversations about the importance of architecture in Detroit and cities everywhere. The exhibition selected twelve visionary American architectural practices to produce new work that demonstrates the creativity and resourcefulness of architecture to address the social and urban issues of Detroit in the 21st century.

Uruguay Pavilion: Reboot Architecture lessons from the “guerrilla Tupamara” and the Andes plane crash
Reboot, Uruguay’s case this was to send a signal, by digging a deep hole in the exhibition hall. The background for this idea lies in the country’s history and refers to the Tupamaros movement from the 1960s, whose activists used the invisible infrastructure of cities as their underground hideaways. Another historical fact is the Andes flight disaster, where the plane was both the tomb of many passengers and “home” to the survivors. Two examples from history that demonstrate to visitors – in line with the provocative spirit of the Biennale – that architecture can also be generated by people other than professional architects, thanks to the to survive, which becomes a springboard for the creativity of human beings.

While this fact underscores art and architecture sharing a lot in the search for new responses to issues of our times (architecture of need), the idea of “rebootATI” was to encourage visitors to “collect objects from other pavilions, in order to create a communal transnational report to be archived, packaged and later shipped for exhibition in Montevideo”, during the Montevideo Biennale. The visitors were given ‘invisibility cloaks’ and invited to take whatever objects took their fancy from other pavilions – in line with their own personal ethics – turning what is actually theft into a “kind of subversive action”, for community collection. Visitors and critics were really taken with this artistic and provocative idea, but the Biennale organisers weren’t quite so impressed and decided to suspend the initiative. Still, we have some photos so, along the lines of the philosophy of webcreativity, they can travel along the surface of time and remain as a record in the eternal present of the time of the web.

Yemen Pavilion: Beautiful Yemen
Beautiful Yemen, the installation was conceived to let you get acquaited with the unique, sophisticated and impressive vernacular architecture of the Arabia Felix. Yemeni vernacular architecture is an example of a living tradition able to engender social and economic wealth and to attract people from different professions as it’is shown.

Collateral events

Across Chinese Cities – China House Vision
Università IUAV di Venezia, Promoter: Beijing Design Week (BJDW)
Across Chinese Cities is an international program organized and promoted by Beijing Design Week (BJDW) since its launch at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2014). As part of this ongoing series the exhibition curated by Beatrice Leanza (BJDW) and Michele Brunello (Dontstop Architettura), stems from the House Vision project, a Pan-Asian platform of multidisciplinary research and development started by designer Kenya Hara for Japan in 2013. House Vision is an exploration in ‘applied futurity’ in domestic habitation exercised by match-made teams of architecture practices and industry-leading companies from various sectors.

Across Chinese Cities – House Vision features for the first time the body of research so far produced with a team of China-based architects and experts. It addresses the changing role and habitat of architecture practice in today China by rendering manifest the contextual phenomena and research trajectories behind 14 architectural proposals. Grouped in five thematic clusters (The Hybrid Unit, Dematerialized Space, Rural Frontiers, Community Plus and Home Kitchen) they are presented by way of an integrated system of material, digital and documentation archives devised to guide visitors’ fruition in a series of interactional scapes.

Stratagems in Architecture: Hong Kong in Venice
Arsenale, Castello, Promoters: The Hong Kong Institute of Architects Biennale Foundation; Hong Kong Arts Development Council
Hong Kong is a city known for its versatility and resilience; yet what is often seen in daily life is rigidity and lack of alternatives. Architecture, under such circumstance, becomes an agency reflecting on human, social and even political conditions, and at the same time moulding the values of the public. On one hand, it conforms to the rules of capitalism and private demand; on the other, it seeks to transcend the norm and open up imagination. What lies in between could be conflictive and creates endless and ever-changing battlefields. New ideas are put to test at the borderline; they may fail or they may transform into new set of values.

The classical Chinese essay Thirty-Six Stratagems is a collection of military tactics applied at wars in ancient China that categorized into chapters that illustrate different situations. The wisdom provides guides in politics, business and civil interaction in modern time. Drawing reference from the classic, the exhibitors examine the challenges they face and attempt to provide solutions to the complexity of reality.

Coexistence
Arsenale, Promoter: Instituto Cultural do Governo da R.A.E. de Macau (I.C.M.)
Macao, a lucrative port of strategic importance in the development of international trade in Chinese territory, became a Portuguese settlement in the mid-16th century and returned to China in 1999. The “Historic Centre of Macao” is a collection of a series of locations in the old city centre that witness the unique assimilation and coexistence of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005, and represents the architectural legacies of the city’s cultural heritage.

This exhibition provides the interactive opportunity to review how we can learn from the “old” buildings and the existing urban context of Macao in a “new” way. The exhibition explores the idea for reconditioning historical spaces for domestic use. By presenting a series of recent restoration and regeneration projects, as well as displaying the traditional (perhaps disappearing) building techniques and local materials that are being rediscovered, reused and applied during the re-making process in the past and present days, one might be able to understand the coexisting east-and west relationships between the architectural approaches and the Historic Centre.

Everyday Architecture Re: Made in Chinese Taiwan
Palazzo delle Prigioni, Promoter: China National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA)
In responding to the theme of REPORTING FROM THE FRONT, the exhibition explores the aspirations and possibilities demonstrated via common civilians creations around their daily architecture. In the face of global / local environmental challenge and social issues, the event re-investigates the concept of civic construction and re-invents materials from recycled waste to set forth the next-step towards “improving the quality of the built environment and, consequently, people’s quality of life”, as stated by the curator of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Alejandro Aravena.

Aftermath_Catalonia in Venice. Architecture Beyond Architects
Cantieri Navali, Promoter: Institut Ramon Llull
Aftermath focuses on lived-in architecture when architects are no longer present and users continue daily the architectural experience. The selected works have been created over the last 10 years by Catalan architects. The audiovisual representation of the structures invites you to evaluate their quality and observe and listen how they are inhabited and roamed in multiple and changing ways. All of the works selected share a distinctly public character and the ability to integrate the natural, urban and human landscapes, extending architectural functionality to the creation of common good.

Architecture for the People by the People
Cannaregio, Promoter: Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art
In the era in which architecture is presented always more as self-referential, the TMOCA (Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art) offers different viewpoints with this exhibition organized by the Faiznia Family Foundation: Faryar Javaherian’s contribution “Architecture at TMOCA: the museum and the permanent collection” shows the architecture of the construction of the museum and the architecture works that it presents, a tight bond between container and content. Parviz Kalantari’s works on mud and straw architectures of Kashan desert cities are very significant.

Felice Ardito’s artistic installation “Nakojaabad” (Nowhereland-populated or “the invisible cities”) is the poetic point of view of the artist about the cities life, their transformation in time, and the result they have on their inhabitants, “because – as Ardito says- it is the city that makes the people!”. The project includes the realization of two “Arches of Peace”, one in Iran and the other one in Italy. Amir Anoushfar presents the renovated historical buildings of Kashan: the architecture of the past that suits the present. Cultural Heritage of East Azarbaijan presents “Tabriz Bazar”: Architecture made by people for people. Free workshops for children about the exhibition themes are organized during the running period of the exhibition: “fff and Cenzino for Kids”.

Architecture Ukraine – Beyond the Front
Spazio Ridotto, Promoter: Izolyatsia
Architecture Ukraine – Beyond the Front begins a dialogue on a crucial issue of our time: how to envision rebuilding and revitalizing cities in places of ongoing conflict. The exhibition features work from Izolyatsia’s research residency program, “Architecture Ukraine 2015”, which brought together professionals from diverse creative fields to examine the infrastructure challenges marking Mariupol, an embattled border city in Eastern Ukraine.

It further explores a parallel examination of the foundation’s home city of Donetsk, currently under conflict, as circumstances create a divergence of the sister cities of Donbas to outposts on either side of a volatile de facto border. The exhibition seeks to hold up a mirror from beyond the front, examining anthropological, economical, social and cultural history, while analyzing social and geographical boundaries that limit or expand the cities’ dynamics.

Branding Islands Making Nations
Università IUAV di Venezia, Promoter: Vertical Geopolitics Lab
Branding Islands Making Nations is a case study competition intended to open the discourse on added value in design, expanding upon the 15th International Architecture Exhibition’s call to arms by inviting an extended field of spatial practitioners to the Biennale Architettura 2016. Consultants and communication designers, marketing and advertising experts shall speculate on the role of branding in the making of a place.

Facilitated by the Vertical Geopolitics Lab think-tank, the conceptual framework is based on the understanding that the politics of representation determine the success of an intervention in the built environment. In the case of a government seeking to determine the feasibility of a territorial claim, entrants are tasked with the presentation of a branding package surrounding an artificial landmass instrumental in legitimizing a nation’s territorial claim. Select teams represent the mix of stakeholders and issues at play, expanding possibilities rather than shifting responsibilities by exposing the glitches, loopholes, and grey areas in systems as first step toward conflict resolution.

Gangcity
Arsenale Nord, Promoter: DIST – Dipartimento Interateneo di Scienze, Progetto e Politiche del Territorio, Torino
Gangcity documents the phenomenon of urban clusters devoid of any kind of legal controls, in order to enable processes of reappropriation and the care of private and public spaces. The project aims to reveal the reciprocal influence between the violence and geography of cities, paying particular attention to the gangs as primary groups born in, and spread throughout the urban ghettos, predominantly through the involvement of teenagers.

Encouraging a mix of disciplines and methodologies, Gangcity was staging an international symposium and a photography exhibition in addition to a variety of events and scientific workshops. The narrative tone that emerges from the scientific analysis of the gangs complements the narration of social scientists, architects, urbanists and artists, who, along with the inhabitants, are also players in the new life cycles of urban clusters. However they’ve finally been freed from gang violence through socially inclusive practices rather than repression.

Prospect North
Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Promoter: Scottish Government
Prospect North explores Scotland and its relationship with its northern neighbours with a focus on people and place. This macro to micro approach delivers a series of innovative mapping strategies, individual narratives, portraits and imagery highlighting Scotland’s place and identity within an economically emerging northern region. Prospect North explores the relationship between people, culture, places, industries and economies and how ‘peripheral’ communities are re-energising through grassroots actions and local endeavours whist at the same time recognising Scotland’s geographic horizons are expanding.

Revitalisation by Reconciliation
Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Promoter: IBA Parkstad
The IBA method, giving cities and regions an economic, social and cultural boost, was presented for the first time at the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Roundtables and conferences contribute to this discourse by focussing on relevant experiences from IBA Parkstad and others, and their cross-border regional impact. They explore new ways to address the urgent need of democracy in spatial design, urban transformation in Europe, sustainability, and the potential of cross-border cooperation. Experts, politicians, stakeholders and architecture students from throughout Europe contribute to the debate.

«Salon Suisse»: “Wake up! A path towards better architecture”
Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Promoter: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
Curated by Leïla el-Wakil, the two-fold aim of the 2016 Salon Suisse is to discuss and re-evaluate fundamental ideas resulting from a balanced conception of modernity, and to participate in setting these as adapted guidelines for architecture in the 21st century. Currently, thanks to the global diffusion of ideas, a multitude of innovative, cost-free and meaningful architectural solutions, often based on lessons from the past, proliferate worldwide. One can observe an empowerment of architecture by the users themselves.

The Salon Suisse offer a space for reflection on topics such as tradition as modernity, reuse and recycling, auto-construction, the priority of human beings and human needs, “Small is beautiful”, Existenzminimum for all, and bio-climatic methods. Swiss and foreign architects, engineers, researchers, crafts(wo)men, filmmakers and artists are invited to share their knowledge and experiences around the theme of “a better architecture for tomorrow”.

Sarajevo Now: People’s Museum
Arsenale Nord, Promoter: Matica of Bosnia and Herzegovina
For centuries, Sarajevo has served as a crossroads and urban frontier. Like other cities transformed by exponential growth or unanticipated shrinking, post-conflict Sarajevo is confronted with its very own modes of informal practice. These conditions expose emerging practices and lessons from a city breaking down divisions and energized as a site for the production of citizenship.

These dynamics echo similar forces running through Urban-Think Tank’s research and design projects, which inspired a collaboration between ETH Zurich, the City of Sarajevo, and the Historical Museum through the ‘Reactivate Sarajevo’ initiative. One of the highlights of this partnership is the collateral event at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, presenting emerging lessons and practices.

Shaping European Cities. Urban confrontation, democracy and identity
Young Talent Architecture Award Granting Ceremony
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, Promoters: Fundació Mies van der Rohe and European Commission (Creative Europe program)
The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe in Barcelona organize the debate Shaping European Cities. Urban confrontation, democracy and identity and grant the Young Talent Architecture Award (YTAA).

Both events, funded by the Creative Europe programme, highlight the conviction that high-quality architectural solutions foster growth, social inclusion, democratic participation and – ultimately – individual and societal well-being for city residents. The newly created Young Talent Architecture Award (YTAA) of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award brings under the spotlight the architects’ education and their first steps into professional life. The discussion was open to people involved in the construction of our territories, from citizens to stakeholders, from policymakers to architecture experts and from critics to students.

Sharing & Regeneration
Palazzo Zen, Promoter: Fondazione EMGdotART
The exhibition takes human beings demands and desires about their livelihoods as the starting point. It especially aims at the residents simple wishes about their lost space: appeals and dreams that are buried deeply in their minds and never before have been woken up. The exhibition consists of three parts: the regeneration of urban central areas, the regeneration of countryside, and new experimental areas. It can be schematically represented by a series of concentric circles, going from the city internal areas to the outside and vice versa, representing the idea of sharing: sharing of knowledge, skills, emotions, thinking, wishes, cares and respect of our common past looking towards the future.

These projects represent the process that goes from the reconstruction of community relationships to the reshaping of city and rural images, in which architects play an important role. The transition from a blueprint-led planning / design process to an action-led, communication oriented, and culture-based planning / design process can give an important contribution to the renewal of social development ways.

The Forests of Venice
Serra dei Giardini, Promoter: Swedish Institute
Initiated by Kjellander Sjöberg Architects and curated by Jan Åman, the exhibition presents a sensual, thought provoking spatial installation in the Serra dei Giardini, a greenhouse from 1894. It suggests wood as a regenerative construction material, elucidating a vision of architecture and urbanity co-existing with nature in a restorative and adaptive way. Cities worldwide are threatened by rising sea levels, Venice, a city built on ten million trees, can serve as an example of how to handle this global problem.

The exhibition investigates if ten million new trees could become a solution, creating new ecological and adaptive urban landscapes. Seven Swedish architects have been invited to transform an element of the Venetian palace into an architectural strategy for our time. The starting point is the fact that Venice is the result of a dynamic process between the natural environment and civilization.

The Horizontal Metropolis, a Radical Project
Isola della Certosa, Promoter: Archizoom EPFL
“Horizontal Metropolis” is an oxymoron to conjugate the traditional idea of Metropolis (the center of a vast territory, hierarchically organized, dense, vertical, produced by polarization) with horizontality (the idea of a more diffuse, isotropic urban condition, where center and periphery blur). In contrast with main trends that see figures of urban dispersion mainly as a phenomenon to be contrasted, the Horizontal Metropolis concept consider them beyond the theme of “peri-urban” and as an asset, not a limit, for the construction of a sustainable and innovative territorial project.

Here horizontality of infrastructure, urbanity and relations, mixed use and diffuse accessibility can generate specific habitable and ecologically efficient spaces. In this frame of thinking, the Horizontal Metropolis works as natural and spatial capital, as a support and place of potentiality. The exhibition investigates the Horizontal Metropolis, its space, its traditions and its inhabitants’ lifestyles, its relevance today as an energetic, ecological and social design issue, it explores scenarios and design strategies for the re-cycling and upgrading of cities-territory in a radical project.

Therapy of Living / Terapia del vivere
Magazzino 11, Promoter: Biobridge Foundation
5,000 years of respect of Natural Environment, wearing jades of Heaven as research of quality of life, translated in today creations
Living – or the inherently architectural datum thereof – as the research for a better quality of life. Today, it cannot but be influenced by social, cultural, geo-political, historical, environmental, scientific factors. Project THERAPY OF LIVING revolves all around man and evolution with respect to the primary architectural environment, that is, living space (the body) and a space to live in (the environment).

Our reflection starts with history, the history of the Far East in particular, and writes it by means of a capsule collection, a precious collection of jade artefacts – symbol of protection of the individual from curse and hazard. Hence, a lesson and principles to understand, translated into the contemporary languages of art and scientific research (three artists and one hundred students of local “Marco Polo” Art School of Venice).

Time Space Existence
European Cultural Centre, Promoter: Global Art Affairs Foundation
The exhibition Time Space Existence presents architects from 6 continents brought together in an extraordinary combination. It shows current developments and thoughts in international architecture, presenting architects with different cultural backgrounds and in different stages of their careers, what they have in common is their dedication to architecture in the broadest sense of their profession, presenting architecture through a focus on the concepts Time, Space and Existence.

Architects should be very conscious about the impact their activities have on living beings and on our environment. This exhibition aims to enlarge our human awareness of our own personal existence as human beings within a specific space and time.

Without Land / Senza Terra
Isola di San Servolo, Promoter: A.I.A.P. (Associazione Internazionale Arti Plastiche)
In an agreed upon and fixed point, an aerostat with the features of a terraqueous world map is raised. It show the writing Without Land that keeps rotating around itself. It was a sign for all who do not have a land of their own, a place where to pause, a place where to meet, to converse and argue, to relate with others.

At the bottom of the aerostatic balloon, a plate was placed with the inscription of all the names of the artists participating in the project Without Land. The names was in alphabetical order but without the mention of functions and activities as sculptor, painter, photographer, musician, literatus or whatever else. There was only names and last names of human beings who have zeroed their social functions.

Spcail projects
The 15th International Architecture Exhibition features three Special Projects, the first promoted by La Biennale, the other two the result of agreements stipulated with other institutions, organized and realised by La Biennale itself.

The exhibition curated by architect Stefano Recalcati, titled Reporting from Marghera and Other Waterfronts, to be shown in the exhibition venues of Forte Marghera (Mestre, Venezia), examines significant projects for the urban regeneration of industrial ports, helping to fuel the debate on the conversion of production in Porto Marghera.

The collaboration agreement with the Victoria and Albert Museum of London takes its first step in the Applied Arts Pavilion at the Sale d’Armi in the Arsenale, with the exhibition entitled A World of Fragile Parts, curated by Brendan Cormier.

Finally, in view of the United Nations – Habitat III world conference, to be held in Quito, Ecuador, during the month of October 2016, and as part of the Urban Age programme, organized jointly by the London School of Economics and the Alfred Herrhausen Society, La Biennale presents, also in the Sale d’Armi, a pavilion dedicated to the themes of urbanisation – Report from Cities: Conflicts of an Urban Age – with particular attention to the relationship between public spaces and private spaces, curated by Ricky Burdett.

Conversations
The Biennale Architettura 2016 is accompanied throughout its duration by a wide-ranging programme of encounters to discuss the themes and phenomena presented in the Exhibition. The Meetings on Architecture return this year with the architects and protagonists of the International Architecture Exhibition curated by Aravena, scheduled for every last weekend of the month. The “Special Projects” also be enriched with a series of conversations and symposia to explore the issues they raise.

On July 16th and 17th, in Venice, the exhibition venues host the annual Urban Age conference organized by the London School of Economics Cities, jointly with the Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society. The complete programme of events was announced shortly.

Projects
The Biennale Sessions project is held again for the seventh consecutive year, following the success of its previous editions. This initiative is dedicated by La Biennale di Venezia to institutions that develop research and training in architecture, the arts and related fields, and to Universities and Fine Arts Academies. The goal is to offer favourable conditions for students and teachers to organize three-day group visits for fifty people or more, offering reduced price meals, the possibility to organize seminars free of charge at the Exhibition’s venues, and assistance in organizing their journey and stay. As of today, 53 international institutions from 13 countries and every continent have signed a protocol of understanding.

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