Venice Architecture Biennale 2012 – Giardini Highlights

I am currently writing a series of 5 of articles highlighting my favourite moments from the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2012. Below is the second instalment of the most memorable projects from the Giardini National Pavilions. Check out the first instalment here.

Hungarian Pavilion – Space Maker


Curated by Balint Bachmann, Space Maker investigates the subject of the architecture model as a symbol of complexity and content. The exhibition explores the importance of the architecture model in the education and realisation of architecture projects.

Over 500 models from architecture students are on display. Each of the models are white to represent cleansing and the space is unlit to remove elements of artificiality. Silence throughout the pavilion eliminates distraction and intends to allow the spectator to imagine the possibilities constructed or embedded in each individual model.

Israelian Pavilion – aircraftcarrier


Curated by Erez Ella, Milana Gitzin-Adiram and Dan Handel, aircraftcarrier documents historical periods of uncertainty. The pavilion represents moments of social, economic, political and territorial struggles that have radically transformed and defined Israeli’s current position in architecture. The moments are categorised in the form of signals, emporiums, allies and flotillas.

The exhibition creates a ‘concept store’, selling custom made objects that relate to each historical moment in time and focus specifically on their relationship between the United States and Israel. The retail experience encourages live interaction with the theme and allows one to deconstruct the work of the pavilion which then goes on to travel the world as spectators take objects home for further reflection, examination and reinterpretation.

Japanese Pavilion – Architecture. Possible Here? Home-for-All.


Curated by Toyo Ito, Home-for-All exhibits the process of 3 emerging architects – Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto and Akihisa Hirata. Home-for-All documents their process as they work together creating a shelter for the 400,000+ people who lost their homes in the tsunami of 2011. The exhibition tells a cohesive story of process through interviews, drawings, working models and video documentation.

The exhibition conveys the sense of the devastation that occurred to the area and the following collaboration processes that have taken place to rebuild. “We made this house without any barrier between “professional” and “amateur”, no distinction between “builder” and “resident”. Every step of the process was done together with local people: builders became residents, residents became builders.” Toyo Ito. Home-for-All ultimately speaks of the human spirit, energy and binds together a sense of community and through the process of devastation allows one to reconsider the meaning of architecture.

Korean Pavilion – Walk in Architecture


Coordinated by Hee Jun and Eun Leong, Walk in Architecture is divided into 2 themes; conflicted and assembled ground vs abstracted and rehearsed ground. The pavilion explores the themes in the form of five walks. Together they represent the future, beyond modernism, the past, the position and the sense.

The pavilion seeks to use the walk as a primordial means to engage, and also as a paradox to a “Walk in Venice” which positions architecture as the subject. The design intends to allow allow one to walk and think, meditate, observe, dream or wander.

Nordic Pavilion – Light Houses


Sponsored by The Museum of Finnish Architecture, Light Houses celebrates the jubilee of the Nordic Pavilion designed by Sverre Fehn. 32 architects display models representing the conceptual idea of the house. The models also reflect their personal philosophy on architecture.

The models explore themes of light, material, structure, space, nature and atmosphere. The exhibition intends to create a chorus of contemporary architecture in polyphonic dialogue with Fehn’s iconic pavilion. The images below show the models of Tyin Tegnestue Architects and Lassila Hirvilammi Architects.

Polish Pavilion – Making the Walls Quake


Curated by Michal Libera and Katarzyna Krakowiak, Making the Walls Quake is the exploration of architecture built through the complexities of sound. The theme explores the idea that sound goes on to create a map of our social lives.

The bare and physically empty pavilion amplifies the sounds that have always existed within the space (creeks, ventilation, heating etc) and through volume allows the sound to move to the foreground of the spectator’s conciseness. The volume of sound and high coefficient of reverberation makes human conversation difficult and therefore our words within the space become blurred into the amplified sound of the building.

Romanian Pavilion – Play Mincu


Curated by Mil Ivanescu, Irina Bogdan, Ana Costantinescu, Laura Iosub and Paul Popescu, Play Mincu encourages one to engage with architecture ideas and to focus on its political, bureaucratic and creative connotations. Play Mincu is both playful and thought provoking.

Upon entering the pavilion spectators are asked to produce a traditional stamp. One goes on to enter a dark room with a piece of paper. Well-lit pedestals contain stamps of various quotes relating to ideas of architecture and again the user stamps their paper. The stamp is not only representative of history and art but also the bureaucratic hurdles of architecture. One leaves the pavilion with something similar to a manifesto.

Russian Pavilion – i-city skolkovo


Curated by Sergei Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov, i-city skolkovo covers every surface of the Russian Pavilion in QR codes. Spectators use the codes to view various proposals for a new city of science located near Moscow, in Russia. The city will include important new scientific centres, universities, homes and over 500 jobs. The city intends to allow diverse organisations from different parts of the world to interact with one another as a network, constructing not only a new city but also a new community for the development of science.

The QR codes explore the connection and intersection between the real and virtual. The pavilion speaks of light and atmosphere. Proposals for the new city include projects by David Chipperfield, SANAA, OMA, Herzog & de Meuron, Stefano Boeri, SPEECH, Valode & Pistre architects.

Serbian Pavilion – 100


Commissioned by Dr Igor Maric, 100 exhibits a large table and though its monumental scale creates a series of metaphors and opportunities. The table represents being alone alongside everyone as opposed to being alone against everyone.

The exhibition space contains a large table, leaving only a narrow hallway for walking, standing and sitting, the interior becomes the exterior, and emptiness becomes fullness. By denying and introverting the scale of the table, the object is brought to extreme meaning; universal, indivisible, sculptural and banal.

Spanish Pavilion – SpainLab


Curated by Debora Mesa and Anton Garcia-Abril, SpainLab poses the challenging questing: “What is the Innovation in Architecture?” The exhibition brings together the work of 7 architects and designers who together represent innovation in architecture, with particular focus on community.

The exhibition displays a balance between the proposition of questioning, ideas and realisation. Each of the works are carefully curated to display not only the authors intention but also their personal emotion and motivation which is often lacking in the communication of architecture.  My favourite work is titled ‘Dream your City’ by Ecosistema Urbano. (Belinda Tato, José Luis Vallejo) Their project focuses on public space as a platform for interaction and experimentation; developing a new means for understanding and transforming urban life.

Swedish Pavilion – And Now the Ensemble!!!


Curated by Miroslav Sik in Collaboration with Axel Fickert, Kaschka Knapkiewicx, Paola Maranta and Quintus Miller, And Now the Ensemble!!! represents an appeal to architects, builders and authorities to look at urban design and architecture as a dialogue-based, evolving and collective work of art. The main hall showcases the work of three architects and propagates a hypothetical, interpretive and at times chaotic ensemble.

The exhibition intents to explore architecture beyond style and star architecture and through a series of tables and chairs encourage reflection and dialogue.

U.S. Pavilion – SpontaneousInterventions: Design Actions for the Common Good


Curated by Cathy Lang Ho, along with David Van Der Leer and Ned Cramer, SpontaneousInterventions presents the work of 124 socially motivated urban interventions that have provided immediate benefit and improvement to the public realm. Each of the interventions are displayed as a kinetic system of weights and pulleys and requires spectator participation to learn more about each of the interventions. The projects range in scale from guerrilla intervention to large structures.

One side of the display documents project images and information while the other is in the form of a barcode categorising each project relating to information (dark blue), accessibility (orange), community (pink), economy (light green), sustainability (dark green) and pleasure (light blue). Black counter weights on the adjacent wall reveal a solution to the problem when their corresponding project banners are pulled down. The pavilion is playful, interactive and informative. Another of my favourite exhibits with enough content to make for a great book!

Uruguayan Pavilion – Panavision


Curated by Pedro Livni Aldabalde, Panavision features the work of six diverse and emergent Uruguayan practices. Each practice has produced a model representing their organisation as a means to develop discussion on contemporary Uruguayan architectural agendas. Common ground is representing by imagining a common future.

Selected firms included G+, 11:54 p.m, Bednarik + Mirabal, MBAD, Fábrica de Paisajes, and MAAM. Each model was developed within specific rules of spatial, programmatic and scale conditions.

Venezuelan Pavilion – Ciudad Socializante vs Ciudad Alienate


Showcasing the work of Domenico Silvestro and Andres Agusti, Ciudad Socializante vs Ciudad Alienate. Domenico Silvestro’s work in the form of art  explores the notion of the home as a hideout and family nucleus for dream, memory and hope.

Andres Agusti’s work is an audiovisual testimony to the evidence of people power, when out of necessity and disaster they devote themselves to the transformation of their environment and home. This project again questions the role of the architect and how our work better needs to address the issues of populations living in poverty.

Venetian Pavilion – Nicholas Hawksmoor: Methodical Imaginings


Curated by Mohsen Mostafavi, Methodical Imaginings focuses on a series of important London churches designed by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor during the eighteenth century. The exhibition celebrates the structures of the city by conceiving the interior of the pavilion as an analogical site of London.

Black and white photographs of the churches are on display alongside resin models that hang in space in a similar relationship to that of their actual locations around the city of London.

Thank you for reading and be sure to check out the next article which will cover the Central Giardini Pavilion. Please feel free to contact me on if you would like further information or photographs on any of the exhibits. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


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