On a tour through the last 100 years of architectural history, the 14th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale complies with a request from its curator Rem Koolhaas: to talk about the past and the future, and not focus only on the present.
By Veronica Boix
The Venice Architecture Biennale is a benchmark in contemporary art. Titled Fundamentals, its fourteenth edition was inaugurated last June 7 and will remain open for the next six months, until November 23, 2014.
The Architecture Biennale 2014 is focused solely on architecture, there are no exclusive pavilions for star architects, said this year´s curator of, the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who won the Pritzker Prize in 2000. In fact, there is only one sentence on the catalog cover: "Architettura non architetti” (Architecture, not architects).
On a tour through the last 100 years of architectural history, the 14th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale complies with a request from its curator, Rem Koolhaas: to talk about the past and the future, and not to focus only on the present. This is because, for Koolhaas, current architecture is fiction. Precisely for this reason he requested that participating countries focus on the fundamentals of architecture: "the ceiling, the floor and the walls that every architect has used at some point in his career." Read more about architecture, homes and decoration.
The concept designed by Koolhaas consists of three interrelated exhibitions presented in two venues: Il Giardini, or Venetian gardens, and the Corderie ship in Arsenale, a former shipyard. This art event covers almost 500,000 square feet of space where 65 participating countries will present their pavilions.
For the first time, under the title of Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014, the national pavilions have tried to adhere to a thematic line to describe how the architectural imprints have been erased in favor of a single, modern and sustainable language. From all of these emerges a dialogue between history and architecture that synthesizes an overview aimed towards a unique aesthetic. "Modernization is a global process that affects all countries and is setting the architectural trends that will dominate the future constructions," says Koolhaas. "So I thought it was important to talk about modernity in this biennial."
Also for the first time, other biennials and festivals in Venice—such as the ones devoted to dance, music, theater and film—are collaborating with the Architecture Biennale. Thus, with an eye on Italy as a "fundamental" and emblematic country, Mondoitalia presents the architectural richness that Italy has bequeathed to the new generations. Each project—from a total of 82 films, 41 architectural works and the fusion of architecture with other arts—addresses individual and unique topics, but together they form a comprehensive portrait of the host country. At the entrance of the exhibition, designed by Koolhaas himself, a light installation made up of thousands of colored glass bulbs and 15 kilos of Swarovski crystals evoke the Renaissance facades of the Venetian palaces.
Meanwhile, Elements of Architecture is a thorough analysis of the foundations of our buildings, employed by any architect— anywhere and at any time— from the floor, walls and ceiling to the window, balcony, fireplace and the stairways. Each element occupies a room curated by an architect or a team of architects.
Moreover, this edition will be joined by a number of autonomous events that unfold throughout Venice. That is the case of BCN Re.set, the project of the Enric Miralles Foundation, which enrolled the work of several architects from around the world to modernize the Spanish city of Barcelona. Another must-see is the Antarctic Pavilion, which created links between disciplines and institutions to explore life models -present and future-in the polar region. ■
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