May 28, 2016 - Nov 27, 2016

REPORTING FROM THE FRONT - CENTRAL PAVILION

Biennale Architettura 2016 - International Exhibition

Biennale Architettura 2016

PAOLO BARATTA - President of La Biennale di Venezia 
While opening previous editions, we have often complained that the present seems to show an increasing divergence between architecture and civil society. Now we wish to explicitly examine whether and where there exist phenomena that show trends that run in the opposite direction with positive messages and we're interested in having not only to the results, submitted to critical judgement, but also in the phenomenology of what has taken place in these positive examples: how to demand for architecture was born, how the needs and desires were highlighted and expressed, which procedures - logical, institutional, legal, poltical and administrative - led to the demand for architecture, and thus allowed it to find solutions, beyond the banal or self-harming ones. We are interested in the awareness that, when it is useful in leading  to the creation of public goods, architecture is a public good, in its technical definition: one's fruition does not reduce the chance for its enjoyment by others. Presenting architecture in action is also one of the answers to the permanent question raised by La Biennale. What is an architecture exhibition and what a Biennale Architettura is? We need to engage with all the possible actors reponsible for the decisions and actions with which the space of our leaving is realized. If Architecture is the most political of the arts, then the Architecture Biennale mus acknowledge it. 
ALEJANDRO ARAVENA - Curator of the Biennale Architettura 2016
In his trip to South America, Bruce Chatwin encountered an old lady walking in the desert carrying an aluminium ladder on her shoulder. It was German archeologist Maria Reiche, studying the Nazca lines. Standing on the ground, the stones did not make any sense; they were just random gravel. But from the height of the ladder those stones became a bird, a tree, or a flower. Maria Reiche did not have the resources nor the technology to study the lines from above the desert. But she was creative enough to still find a way to achieve her goal. The modest ladder is the proof that we shouldn't blame the harshness of constraints for our incapacity to do our job. Against scarcity: inventiveness. On the other hand, standing on the roof of a car or a truck to look from a certain height and moving around the area would have destroyed the object she was trying to study. So, there was a canny understanding of the reality and the means through which to care for it. Against abundance: pertinence. We would like the Biennale Architettura 2016 to offer a new point of view like the one Maria Reiche has from atop the ladder. Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, Reporting From the Front will be about listening to those who were able to gain some perspective and are consequently in the position to share some knowledge and experiences, inventiveness and pertinence with those of us standing on the ground. 
REPORTING FROM THE FRONT
Scheme of issues to address the battles for Biennale Architettura 2016
MARIA REICHE'S ROOM
BIENNALE ARCHITETTURA 2016

REPORTING FROM THE FRONT
Architecture is about giving form to the places where we live. It is not more complicated than that, but also not easier than that. Those places include houses, schools, offices, shops and retail areas in general, museums, palaces and government buildings, bus stops, subway stations, squares, parks, streets, trees along the streets (or not), sidewalks, parking, and the whole range of programs and pieces that constitute or built environment.
The form of those places, though, is defined not just by the esthetic trend of the moment or the talent of a given designer; they are the consequence of regulations, interests, economies and policies, or perhaps even of the lack of coordination, indifference, and simple chance The forms these places assume may improve or ruin people's lives.


The difficulty of the circumstances (scarcity of means, ruthless constraints, urgencies of all kinds) is a constant threat to the delivery of quality. The forces at play are not necessarily amicable either: the greed and impatience of capital or the single-mindedness and conservatism of bureaucracy tend to produce banal, mediocre, dull built environments. There are many battles that need to be won in order to improve the quality built environments and consequently people's quality of life.

In addition to that, the notion of quality of 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 endeavor 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.
Our curatorial prosposal is twofold: on the one hand we would like to widen the range of issues to which architecture is expected to respond, adding explicitly to the cultural and artistic dimension that already belong to our scope, those that are on the social, political, economic, and environmental end of the spectrum.
On the other hand, we would like to highlight the fact that architecture is called on to respond to more than one dimension at time, integrating a variety of fields instead of choosing one or another.
Reporting From the Front will be about sharing with a broader audience the work of people who are scrutinizing the horizon looking for new fields of action presenting examples where different dimensions are synthesized, integrating the pragmatic with the existential, pertinence and boldness, creativity and common sense.

These are the frontlines from which we would like different practitioners to report, sharing success stories and exemplary cases where architecture made, is making, and will continue to make a difference.
In order to identify those examples we started from four different angles:

A. Themes
We came up with a list of issues that need to be addressed. Issues like inequalities, sustainability, insecurity, segregation, traffic, pollution, waste, migration, natural disasters, informality, peripheries, and the housing shortage are problems where basic needs and human rights are at stake. We went to look for creative, innovative practitioners willing to risk going into such complex fields. At the other end of the spectrum, we understood that issues like the mediocrity, banality and dullness of the places where we live are equally menacing for the quality of life. So we invited those consistent solid professionals who constitute a kind of resistance and moral reserve of the discipline against such threats.

B. Projects
We knew of projects that we thought had made a contribution so we wanted to know the story behind them, the difficulties, the tipping points, and the strategies they developed in order to succed.

C. Architects (or practitioners)
We contacted those we adimre or had a history of consistently producing quality outcomes in different circumstances. We asked them what were they'd been working on recently or what their next thing was going to be. In short: good architects.

D. Spontaneous submissions
Finally, La Biennale and Elemental began to receive spontaneous submissions from different people or projects that we were not aware of.
Following this, we proceed to invite people.
We did not have any kind of geographical, age, or gender quota. We sought only quality.
Some of them never responded.
Others declined, arguing that even though they were very much interested in the theme, they did not have enough time to give a proper response. Most accepted the challenge and began a dialogue with the curatorial team.

There were some attributes that we wanted the final selection to be able to reflect: for example, we wanted to highlight and underline those practices that even in the most conventional circumstances (doing buildings) were able to respond with precision and consistency to the request, fulfill the needs and desires that originated them and ultimately stand the test of time. We wanted to insist (until it becomes a shared minimum flotation level) on those examples that avoid trends and fashion and resisted the temptation of unnecessary frills.
We wanted to achieve a certain critical mass of architects, younger and older, known or less known, who were honestly in search of a certain timelessness and yet willing to respond to the challenges of our time. We were looking for projects able to integrate more than one dimension at a time, framing old charged issues in an original way in order to move forward.
In any case, it was crucial that there had to be a proposal; just to raise awareness of a problem (or do research), no matter how relevant the challenge may be, was not enough.
The relevance of the problem or the difficulty of the circumstances should not excuse practitioners from responding with quality architecture. Nor was the opposite approach enough: builidings that look nice but are unable to say which problem they are trying to address did not make it to the short list. We did our best to select examples that address a problem that matters and for which quality architecture made a difference.

BREAKING THE SIEGE
Gabinete de Arquitectura

Working with two of the most easily available materials - bricks and unqualified labor - as a way to transform scarcity into abundance.

ONORE PERDUTO
Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo

"Smallness. A Triptych"
Video Project by Sara Marini, photographs by Fabio Mantovani, illustration by Riccardo Miotto and editing by Sissi Cesira Roselli

"Tattiche di guerriglia della piccola scala: effetti sullo scenario"

Small scale, the reservoir of the lost honor of architecture.

AND
VAVStudio

How working under a forced embargo may lead to sustainble practice.

URBAN RENOVATION OF LORMONT GENICART DISTRICT - 79 COLLECTIVE HOUSING UNITS IN BEGLES
LAN

Improving the quality of the already built peripheries as a way to deal with anger and resentment

LEGISLATING ARCHITECTURE
Arno Brandlhuber + Christopher Roth

The activist and the law: from defying the code to strengthening it.

THE PHYSICS OF CULTURE
Grafton Architects

Intermediate spaces. Expanding the gamut of habitability in between the tropics.

ANDES' SHADOW
elton_léniz

Learning from nature about how to survive marginality and urban violence.

INUJIMA LANDSCAPE PROJECT
Kasuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA

A series of small light pavilions to rescue an island from abandonment.

FENDA
Aires Mateus

The power of old-fashioned beauty as a way to resist banality.

IN PURSUIT OF A NEW OUAGADOUGOU
KERE ARCHITECTURE

Universal knowledge or local wisdom? Designing with forces pulling in opposite directions.

PEOPLE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE SEA - A CELEBRATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE
Jiakun Architects

If cities are good news, then we may consider densifying the open spaces and the services and not just the residences and the buildings.

FORENSIC ARCHITECTURE
FORENSIC ARCHITECTURE

Forensic Architecture - Tracing wrongdoings back through architectural design logic.

SIMON VELEZ ARCHITECTURE
Simon Vélez

Matter is more sustainable than materials (less embedd energy).

MUD WORKS!
STUDIO ANNA HERINGER with LEHM TON ERDE BAUKUNST with ARCHITEKTURMUSEUM DER TUM

Facing scarcity by using mud, one of the most readily available resources on earth.

REPORT FROM MY FRONT - THE BATTLE: CRADLE TO CRADLE 
EPEA INTERNATIONALE UMWELTFORSCHUNG

Sustainability beyond good intentions. Sustainable constructions shouldn't be those that are less harmful but those that are the most beneficial to the environment.

HUMAN - MEDITATION - NATURE
Vo Trong Nghia Architects

Resisting globalization in the jungle by developing an architecture somewhere between infrastructure and landscape.

TO LIVE IS TO BE SLOWLY BORN
KASHEF CHOWDHURY / URBANA

The nobility of open spaces. The discipline that is needed to work in a poor country as a clue to delivering quality even under the most difficult circumstances.

NAGA SITE MUSEUM - SUDAN
David Chipperfield Architects

The elegance of containment: why a classic approach makes a sense in remote places.

TRUSTICS: ARCHITECTURE AS A TACTIC OF TRUST
El Equipo Mazzanti

The icon and the spaces in between; from figure to background and vice versa.

COMMUNITY LIBRARY, AMBEPUSSA, SRI LANKA
ROBUST ARCHITECTURE WORKSHOP

An army of builders - Replacing guns with tools as a way to use the troops' discipline in favor of the building industry.

FARMING THE LIFE: LANDSCAPE RESTORATION OF VALL D'EN JOAN WASTE LANDFILL
BATLLE I ROIG ARQUITECTES

Waste of geographical scale: landfills able to become landscape (again).

BRAGA MUNICIPAL MARKET AND ITS RECONVERSION INTO A MUSIC AND DANCE SCHOOL
Souto Moura - Arquitectos

Although apparently counterintuitive, demolishing is sometimes a positive constructive force that may give a new life to a place.

THE EVIDENCE ROOM
School of Architecture, University of Waterloo

No hole, no holocaust.

Architecture as evidence: the story of Robert Jan Van Pelt as a witness in the trial against Penguin Books by negationist David Irving.

ENABLING STRUCTURES, WARWICK, DURBAN, SA
DESIGNWORKSHOP: SA

From police to policy: the transformation of Warwick triangle from the most dangerous into the most lively part of Durban.

SPACES
Raphael Zuber 
ORPHAN GROUND
Renato Rizzi

Architecture as intense reality; a missing link in the prevailing stingy or arrogant forces that normally shape our built environment.

JARDIM COLOMBO: A SELECTIVE CHRONOLOGY
Christian Kerez in collaboration with Hugo Mesquita 

Learning from the favelas (without poeticizing them).

SAVING THE CITY
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Sustainable massive housing.

L'ARCHITETTO CONDOTTO
Renzo Piano Building Workshop ang G124 (Senator Renzo Piano's Working Group) 

Taking care of the peripheries built in the last few decades.

WESTERN SAHARA
MANUEL HERZ ARCHITECTS

Western Sahara - Redefining the architecture of a refugee camp as the identity of a nation (yet to be).

VARA PAVILION
PEZO VON ELLRICHSHAUSEN

Expanding the notion of domesticity and public space while working in places where the artistic vanguard is not even close to being a given.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile