The city of a thousand bridges welcomes us with bright sunshine and a blue sky. We are on our way to the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, which this year was curated by the Irish architects Yvonne Farrel and Shelley McNamara under the exhibition theme “FREESPACE”.
On our way to the exhibition area, we encounter the first pavilions and design hotspots in public parks and small backyards, which are scattered all over the city and present themselves to the public between the narrow alleys.
Upon arrival at the Giardini we walk through the imposing cupola room of the Padiglione Centrale. The following spatial structure of the themed exhibition connects the different exhibits through lines of sight, defined wall openings and the interaction between inside and outside. The curators animate the visitors to generate their own connections on their individual paths through the rooms. The shown projects also focus on the theme of the connection. On display are contemporary interpretations of architectural details of historical projects that unite the past, present and future of architecture.
“FREESPACE describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself.”
Yvonne Farrel & Shelley McNamara
The country pavilions, built by the most important architects of the 20th century, are distributed within the largest green area of Venice. Since 1907, 28 buildings have been built, which, with their different styles, can themselves be considered an international architectural exhibition.
In the Austrian pavilion the three offices LAAC, Henke Schreieck and Sagmeister & Walsh interpret FREESPACE under the motto “Thoughts Form Matter”. You can see image, body and space standing next to each other as basic constants. They assume “that architecture does not fill the space, but creates it”.
With “Another Generosity”, the Scandinavian pavilion broached the issue of the relationship between nature and the built environment. According to the designers, architecture should enable a world that supports a symbiotic coexistence of the two. The exhibited membranes “breathe” and thus react to external and sometimes invisible stimuli. As part of a larger Nordic project, the installation will stimulate debate on how we can shape our world with a different generosity.
On the second exhibition area Arsenale, the visitors view into the Corderie is denied by a curtain of ship ropes – a tribute to the former function of the rope and ship rope workshop. Along the next 317 metres of free space, the 71 selected architectural offices, planners and designers present their projects.
Before we return to the Venetian sun, Danish architect Dorte Mandrup takes us on an Arctic journey. Her installation shows on a scale of 1:12 an abstract model of the visitor centre at the Ilulissat ice fjord in Greenland. Complemented by an immersive light and sound installation, the extreme conditions of such a project are clarified.
What do we take back to Aachen? The Italian sun, special, yet unagitated impressions and immense freedom in our head for new projects.