7 September 2010

Biennale Review

'The first decade of the 21st century is ending in a succession of radical changes. In this context of rapid evolution, can architecture be the mouthpiece for new values and modern lifestyles? The 2010 Biennale is the opportunity to test architecture's numerous possibilities and to account for its plurality of approaches. Every one of its orientations relates to a different way of living.'

Director Kazuyo Sejima's statement - by the way the first woman to direct the Architecture Biennale - resulted in the less pretentious 12th International Architecture Exhibition in the absence of 'Lynnadids'.
In the previous editions of the exhibition the vast and beautiful spaces of the Corderie dell'Arsenale used to act as a mere background for sculptures of 'Star-Architects'. This year the installations refer directly to their sourrounding and create a series of diverse and interesting spaces. Probably the most beautiful and definitely the most poetic of these spaces is Matthias Schuler's (Transsolar) and Tetsuo Kundo's Cloudscape.
An artificial cloud hanging between the columns which could be gradually experienced through a lightweight spiral ramp. You enter the cloud from cool and dry climate underneath until the cloud fully embraces you. When reaching the top the climate gets warm and dry and sight becomes clear. The cloud is generated through different pressures of air.::image source

Canadian artist Janet Cardiff's sound installation 'The Forty Part Motet' is intangible. In the early modern hall under the wooden pitched-roof a choral of Thomas Tallis (1514-1585) hangs in the air. 8 x 5 speakers - arranged in an ellipse - distribute Tallis' 'Spem in alium'. Forty vocal scores expand the space and create a touching experience of the space.
Both installations deal strongly with the experience of space and its physiological and psychological impact on the human body.

The second main exhibition at the Palazzo del Esposizioni as well showed a heterogeneous overview of contemporary architecture production. Next to known offices from Japan like Atelier Bow Wow, Sejima's SANAA and Toyo Ito Biennale proved Aranda/Lasch as well as many young practices showed their conceptual approaches - few of them really outstanding but as a whole a highly informative cross-section.
Most intriguing was OMA's mini exhibition on Preservation. With the theme of CRONOCAOS, ::OMA/AMO, 'Preservation', exhibition view

OMA explores the wrenching simultaneity of preservation and destruction, which is destroying any sense of a linear evolution of time - an intelligent and critical debate on preservation. Additionally their new project for Venice's Palazzo Tedeschi which is to be converted to a shopping mall/cultural center was shown to the public for the first time.

Many of the pavillons of the participating nations were dealing with the theme 'People meet in Architecture'. Outstanding: the Netherlands, the winner of the Golden Lion Bahrain, Japan on the 50th anniversary of Metabolism, Canada, Croatia with their floating Pavillon.

:: The Netherlands on vacant spaces

:: Canadian Architect philip beesley's installation 'hylozoic ground'

:: Croatian floating pavillon, source

In summary it can be said that it is one of the most interesting yet heterogeneous architecture Biennales. An overview of alternative contemporary architecture without laying claim to completeness.

::all images by synchronictiy unless otherwise indicated