An insight into the Swiss and Venezuelan Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale
This week we have waded to work in our sensible wellie boots and battled through the excited tourists in the rain to get the Biennale! Apparently Venice is experiencing some of the worst floods in twelve years – things can only get better right?
At least I could escape from the howling wind in the tranquil oasis of the Swiss Pavilion; curated by Miroslav Sik, an architect and university professor along with Knapkiewicz+Fickert from Zurich and Miller+Maranta from Basel.
As you walk in to the space you are overcome with a sense of calm within the cocoon of white washed walls, which cast a soft light over the low round table of reading materials. Passing through a curtain to the next room you find yourself craning to make out every photograph on the collage, which covers an entire wall and represents the projects and buildings they have worked on previously. The group are concerned with the design of new buildings, how they fit and add to their surroundings whilst also remaining sensitive to heritage and culture. Understanding the character of a location and allowing this to be reflected in new design commands a good sense of understanding and a broad knowledge of the areas history and tradition. If these elements are ignored a great spectacle could be created but with no real connection to its location and is this not the worst type of architecture?
In a further space is a large-scale photographic installation by Michael Zirn who created the piece through the use of a giant camera obscura. He used a very traditional technique by converting Miroslav’s digital images into negatives and then projecting them onto the walls, which were coated with a light sensitive emulsion. The images then developed directly onto the walls to create an enormous montage of buildings and when the sun shines through the high slanted windows it reveals beams (or perhaps columns) of light that look as if they are as much a part of the architecture as the walls themselves.
Next door in the Venezuelan Pavilion a slightly similar montage is displayed but this time in vivid tones of orange and green reflecting ideas about the urban setting in Venezuela. The exhibition is entitled La ciudad socializante vs la ciudad alienante and is presented by Domenico Silvestro who wanted to aim his ideas at a wide audience, not just architects. The strong graphic sketches on the walls create a certain amount of tension and Silvestro hopes will bring interest to the cities present situation rather than representing a possible future or a vision of the past. In an adjoining space there is also an installation of cubes onto which videos are projected of interviews with Venezuela’s construction workers!
I have just checked the weather and it seems the floods are subsiding so perhaps I will have the chance to visit the Museo Fortuny on my day off, more to come soon!